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The Heritage Association of Hillsdale, Michigan (THA), was founded in March 2016 by Heather Tritchka, Constance (Connie) Sexton, and Dedra Birzer, for the purpose of forming an organizational structure which facilitates the creation creation of visual art to reflect the historical, cultural, and natural heritage of Hillsdale County. Tritchka, who holds a B.S. degree from Hillsdale College, MA in Philosophy from Biola, CA., and works as a professional artist, had long dreamed of sculpting a statue of Winona. Winona was the Potawatomi daughter of Chief Baw Beese, a figure that combines local legend with significant accounts of early Hillsdale County history. Heather brought together Dr. Dedra McDonald Birzer, who holds a doctorate in Comparative Women’s History and the history of the American West, with Connie Sexton, Sexton’s involvement with several local organizations provided experience in organization, fundraising, bookkeeping, and leadership. From the beginning, these women realized that they wanted to form an organization that would live on past their Winona Statue Project, one that would continue to enlighten residents and visitors of Hillsdale County about the area’s rich heritage through beautiful works of visual art. This desire to educate through heritage art is indeed the mission of The Heritage Association of Hillsdale, Michigan.

“Studio42” is the association’s home, located at 42 Union St., Hillsdale, MI. This space is generously donated by Carly and Marty Hubbard, owners of 42 Union St. THA has successfully accomplished their 2016 Winona project, a life size bronze statue of the “Princess “of Hillsdale: Winona, resides at Mrs. Stock’s Park, Hillsdale, MI. The organization’s 2018/2019 Black Bear project was successfully completed in June of 2019 with the unveiling of a bronze statue of a Mama Bear and her two cubs at the Baw Beese Lake Walking Trail, Hillsdale, MI. In the fall of 2019 a 48” X 40“portrait of the first hotelier of the Keefer house in Hillsdale, Mi. was commissioned to John Castelesse. It was donated to CL Enterprises as a thank-you for rehabilitating the Keefer Hotel. Current projects are two murals; a billboard style mural “Welcome to Historic Hillsdale” and a history walk mural for Jonesville Mi. A future project is an oversized bronze statue of a painted turtle family, to be place along the Baw Beese walking trail in Hillsdale Mi.  THA is a nonprofit organization comprised of dedicated members who support the Mission, Vision, Values and Goals of the organization.

In March 2017, the organization celebrated its first anniversary and introduced an exciting new aspect of THA, a Youth Board. This arm of THA arose through a realization of a dearth of youth leadership opportunities related to the arts in Hillsdale County. To form the Youth Council, requests were sent to each school in the county asking for students interested in art and history (from 9th through 12th grades). The response from the schools and students was almost overwhelmingly enthusiastic and a youth council was formed. The members of THA’s Youth Advisory Board plan events for children that coordinate with larger projects, such as Library Days, Art Exhibits and assistance with the planning and execution of events.

The Heritage Association of Hillsdale, Michigan, is a 501c3 nonprofit volunteer organization. Members assist with mailings and events, as well as offer oversight and advice at our monthly meetings.


To educate and preserve our local heritage for the present and future generations to enjoy.  By exploring our past, we will add to our community’s understanding of its rich heritage with beautiful visual reminders of Hillsdale’s roots.

For more information please visit:

The Heritage Association of Hillsdale MI's Facebook Page at

For online donations please visit:


“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

- Mother Teresa


"Had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of Winona today...she is stunning!"

- Amber Yoder

"It was a very nice open house! Congratulations to The Heritage Association on your new studio space!"

- Melissa McCance

"The first time I met Connie, I was blown away by her enthusiasm and love for the community!"

- Amanda Honeywell

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