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Benton Harbor group shares photos of founding family to celebrate history

 BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- The Benton Harbor Historical Preservation Society is honoring the city's history with a new showcase featuring original photos of the its founding family. They gave ABC 57 an exclusive first look.

It's a peek into Benton Harbor's history centered on the man who started it all in 1960, Sterne Brunson. 

Even some of his descendants were shocked to see the photos the society was able to obtain.

"It's just really touching to see all these pictures, especially the ones I haven't seen before. It's just a wonderful thing to be able to come down and look at these," said one descendant, Paul Filstrup.

That's the reaction the historical society was hoping for.

"Seeing that the PGA tournament was in town, I knew we needed to do something to highlight the history of Benton Harbor, so four our first family, we chose the Filstrup family. And then to find out the little cherry on top that they're actually with the founder of Benton Harbor," said President and Founder of the Benton Harbor Historical Preservation Society, Michael Hoyh.

The Filstrups joined the Brunson lineage through marriage, and their kids brought with them a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind photographs.

Some include the original photo of Sterne Brunson and the only known picture taken of his wife, Sarah.

The windows of photos also include the electric car the Filstrups developed.

"They actually decorated it at one time, too. They've never been able to sell many of these, but it got them through the Depression...it was very difficult, but they survived," said Paul.

He hopes the economic boom his ancestors helped to write into Benton Harbor's history repeats itself.

"I think that the Benton harbor economic development which happened in 1907 is happening now again, which I’m glad to see and trying to develop all the waterfront areas will be a wonderful thing for the city. I think it will bring in more jobs, and it will be a much nicer city and people will come here with no problem," said Filstrup.

You can check out the stories of the Filstrups at 140 5th Street in the arts district through the second week of June.

The showcase also features a time capsule from 1963 from the Upton and Whirlpool foundations' Technical Center.

They hope to open it with the Uptons in August.

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