Arts, Culture, & History

Art exhibits, musical performances, plays, improv nights—the opportunities to experience art and culture in River Country are plentiful. Take in a performance at one of several local theaters or browse beautiful works of art at exhibits that change throughout the year. If hands-on is more your style, sign-up for a local workshop and express yourself!

Sturgis is home to the historical Sturges-Young Auditorium & Civic Center, which features holiday musical performances, plays and events throughout the year. You can also explore the Open Door Gallery & Art Center, which is just a few blocks away. See work from local artists or exercise your own artistic talent during a class.

Three Rivers features the Carnegie Center for the Arts, with exhibits ranging from quilts to watercolors and events including concerts and art camps. Local talent is on display at the Three Rivers Players Theatre, where you can catch performances of beloved musicals, classic plays and contemporary offerings.

Take a drive through River Country and feel the history of the area.  Here are a few of the historical highlights of this great land and the people that carved their notch in history.    Mound Builders were the first settlers of Michigan.  Artifacts from this period can be viewed at the Sue Silliamn House & Blacksmith Shop by appointment.  River Country has the longest existing covered bridge in Michigan, the Langley Covered Bridge, just north of Centreville.    Tour Governor John S. Barry’s House & Museum in Constantine (by appointment only).  John S. Barry was Michigan’s only three term governor in the nineteenth century.  The historical marker honoring the famous Native American, Chief White Pigeon, can be viewed in the village of White Pigeon.  To see all the history of our area, take our self-guided historical tour.    Click here to view and/or print our Historical Self-Guided Tour.

Sue Silliman Portrait (c) Cheryl LombardThe Sue Silliman House on South Main Street, Three Rivers, is engrossed in history.  Arthur Silliman came with his family from Pennsylvania in 1847, to settle in St. Joseph County.  The property is located near the old Pottawatomie Indian trail that crossed the St. Joseph River.  The house, constructed in 1876, was a store, blacksmith shop and home to the Silliman Family.  Sue Silliman was deeded the property from her father, Arthur.  Ms. Silliman was the city librarian for 43 years.  Serving as the State DAR Historian, Sue compiled many historical items.  The home is currently the property of the Abiel Fellows Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Tours by appointment only.  Call Becky at 269-435-4795 to schedule a tour.  Parking is at the Prairie River Parking facility on Michigan Ave, just east of Main Street, behind the Main Street businesses.Grist Mill at Rawson's King Mill Park (c) Cheryl Lombard

One of the jewels of River Country is  Rawson’s King Mill Park in Leonidas, Michigan.  With a historical grist mill dating back to the early 1870′s, you will be amazed at this piece of history.  Nestled on Nottawa Creek, the park also boasts an enchanting waterfall and three islands.  With all this beauty, it is no wonder couples choose this park for their wedding location.

Culbertson Cemetery Sign (c) Cheryl LombardAnother historical site is highlighted in ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ as the only cemetery in the middle of the road.   Culbertson Cemetery is a family plot of settlers from the early to mid 1800′s.  The cemetery is located just north of the Langley Covered Bridge.

Built in 1887, the beautiful Langley Covered Bridge is a wonderful look back into history.  Spanning 282 feet, the covered bridge is the longest in the state of Michigan.  Covered bridges were popular back Langley Bridge (c) Cheryl Lombardwhen the mode of transportation was by horse and buggy.  Horses tended to be spooked on bridges when they could see their reflection.  Covered bridges solved that problem and kept the bridge healthy by keeping the weather off the bridge foundation.
A centennial structure in St. Joseph County is the Sturgis Dam, located just west of the Langley Covered Bridge.  This 100 year old working dam was started in 1909 and completed in 1911.  With 30 gates, the dam creates power for the city of Sturgis, one of largest cities in St. Joseph County.

Sturgis Dam by the Langley Covered Bridge (c) Cheryl Lombard

The most renowned chief in River Country history was Chief Wahbememe.  Known as Chief White Pigeon, this Pottawatomie chief signed the 1795 Treaty of Greenville and was well respected by the local white settlers as well as his tribe.  History tells the story of how Chief White Pigeon, upon learning of a plot to attack the village, ran 150 miles from the east side of the state, back to the settlement to warn the village.  He reached the village and gave his warning, but unfortunately, after not stopping for food or water, collapsed and soon died.  The monument is located on the NW corner of US-12 and US-131.

The boulder for the marker, donated by a local farmer, was loaded on a wagon and pulled by a team of horses to John Weaver’s land outside of what is now White Pigeon.  The chief’s great-great grandson, Willie White Pigeon, honored Chief Wahbememe by unveiling the finished monument in 1909 with a day of celebration with white settlers as well as the local Pottawatomie tribe.

Check out all of the art, cultural and historical sites on the map below. Click on any item on the map for a direct link to the location’s website where you can check event schedules and purchase tickets.

Plan your River Country art and cultural experience today!