Featured in this exhibit is a collection of items showing what life was like in Grand Ledge from the 1860’s to 1910. Included are the living areas, clothing, entertainment, Island Resort, street scenes, stores and schools.
In the children’s area there is an early buggy, games, books and a stereopticon, an item used long before TV and tablets.
Music and entertainment was often held in a home. A variety of instruments that people would bring to form a band, such as an 1800’s drum, concertina and clarinet, are on display along with a phonograph. We also have many early community band photographs. What is that odd looking couch you ask? Make sure to check out the fainting couch or chaise lounge where people rested when not feeling well.
The Seven Islands Resort provided entertainment in good weather not only for locals but trainloads of people who came from as far away as Detroit to stay at the Island House Hotel and to ride the steamboat or roller coaster. They also came to enjoy the ledges, mineral wells, fountains and picnic.
On display is an original pot bellied depot stove, a replica of the Island Queen paddle boat, souvenirs and many pictures of the islands and the ledges.
Clothing at the time was very different from now. You will see a variety of clothing from children to adults. A spinning wheel and weaving loom would have been used to make much of the clothing and scrap pieces were saved to make quilts. See the scrub board and hand-turned wringer washing machine used for laundry.
When shopping during this time period, you went to individual stores such as a bakery, meat market, produce store in season, staple groceries, shoe store, clothing, jewelry, hardware and buggy shops. There were no Meijer or big-box stores. The stores were located on Bridge Street which was not paved. In the exhibit, you will see street scenes showing some of the stores and the interior of a few.
Did you know in 1887, both the north side and south side had high schools? We show an 1800’s north side graduating class and an early 1900’s south side graduation held at the Opera House as there were no gyms in the schools. Students living outside of the city attended one-room schools and came to Grand Ledge for high school.
You will see many scenes and artifacts you probably have heard your grandparents or great-grandparents talk about. Don’t miss this wonderful exhibit and a chance to see many things from historic Grand Ledge!