Be a part of history: The Pines of Dow Gardens volunteer docents and tour guide openings

On the Dow Gardens website, there’s a quote from Herbert H. Dow that reads, "I favored Midland, because I had a home here and did not want to build elsewhere."

That’s true, says Samantha Engel, historian for The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. According to Engel, once The Pines of Dow Gardens residence was built in 1899, the Dow family never lived in another home, not even a vacation home.

Engel is currently searching for volunteer docents to help lead tours of that historic home. An information and training session is being held Monday, May 21, to familiarize prospective volunteers with the grounds, the staff, and the various roles they can fill as volunteer docents.

Volunteering as a historical tour guide may seem intimidating, says Engel, but there’s little to worry about. During the session, Engel will provide the hows and whys of the docent role, hand out historical literature and host a free tour of the home.

"The goal is to show people that it’s not so scary," she says. "Even myself, I was a little intimidated at first. You’re in this house and you think that people expect you to know every little thing about a subject, which just isn’t the case.

"I want to show people that you always know more than you think you do."

Volunteer docents will give tours of the home and help with programming that includes a tea party series, self-guided tours on Saturdays and Christmas at the Pines. Volunteers will receive a complimentary admission card for the following year.

There are currently five volunteer docents at The Pines of Dow Gardens. Engel is hoping to at least double that number.

"When you preserve a community’s past, it helps shape the community’s identity," she says.

The volunteer docent training is on Monday, May 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The Pines of Dow Gardens is located at 1809 Eastman Ave. in Midland.

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