Interpretive Panel Project

The Ada Hotel, c. 1915

Project Overview

The Ada Historical Society is preparing a project focused on promoting the sense of community and cultural heritage of Ada. This project proposes to do so through:

  • The installation of six historic interpretive panels (historic signboards) at key points in the village.
  • A related booklet, ReDISCOVER Ada, available online and in hard copy, that coordinates with the interpretive panels and provides more in-depth information about the history of the village.

The Ada Band, c. 1915

Objectives of the Project

Interpretive panels placed around the village will tell Ada’s story by displaying, interpreting and promoting Ada’s past. The panels and available booklet will provide an enjoyable, engaging experience for both first-time visitors and long-time residents. They will also encourage foot traffic around the village. The project will emphasize:

  • Ada’s sustained community over its long history.
  • The architectural blending of old and new that lends character to the main streets of the village.
  • Images, personal experiences and anecdotes to bring Ada’s history to life.

The Citizens Bank, c. 1915

Take a Step Back In Time…

Each panel will present a dominant image showing that particular corner around 1915. A text section will help readers experience that corner as it was a century ago and compare it with today’s view. A secondary image and text section will highlight another special story or historic event near that spot. The interpretive panels are planned to be free-standing, all-weather signboards mounted on powder-coated aluminum posts. The panels will represent the most recognizable and often-traveled corners of the village—the corners of Ada Drive and Thornapple River Drive and the corners of Bronson Street and Ada Drive. All panels will be accessible on foot by sidewalks and will be visible to vehicles driving through the village.

Rex Anthony delivering mail, c. 1890

Sharing Ada’s Past

The Ada Historical Society has been collecting Ada’s stories since it first formed in 1974. The Society is committed to preserving and sharing the unique heritage of the Ada area. Society volunteers have researched and drafted the interpretive panels using historic images, documents, books and oral histories from long-time Ada residents.

Ada Drive from the viaduct looking toward Thornapple River Drive, c. 1915

How You Can Help

The Historical Society is asking for your support on this community project. Please consider donating toward the cost of fabrication and installation of the six interpretive panels and production of the booklet. Your donation will be recognized in the ReDISCOVER Ada booklet that will coordinate with and expand upon the stories in the interpretive panels. Download a contribution form here.

Interpretive Panels Location Map

For more information or to see panel concepts, please contact the Ada Historical Society, attn: Kristen, at or call (616) 676-9346.