Old Rugged Cross Museum celebrates 25 years

REED CITY — Staff and volunteers of the Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum are excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary this year, and are sharing its pride with the public by hosting an open house.

“We think it’s amazing that we’ve been able to keep going this long,” said historical society secretary Betsy Randall about the milestone. “Hopefully, the open house will encourage people to bring others to the museum.”

According to Randall, the museum opened in August of 1990 under the direction of city manager Ralph Westerburg with the help of volunteers organizing, sorting and building partitions. Once the building was established, the Old Rugged Cross Historical Society and the Old Rugged Cross Society combined their artifacts and displays to house in the museum, as their former building located on the current site of Rite Aid had fallen into disrepair and was eventually torn down.

The museum open house will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 3. It will include museum tours, music, light refreshments, a presentation by Shanna Avery and a ScanPro demonstration. The ScanPro machine assists individuals in reading and printing microfilm, which is how Reed City newspapers since 1879 are stored.

Inside the historical museum are three rooms depicting life in the Reed City area before 1900. Documents, records, artifacts, equipment and more showcase the history of the city and its families, local departments, industries, businesses and even its Native American residents who were here before immigrants arrived. In addition, one of the rooms is dedicated to the life and music of Reverend George Bennard, who lived in a home on Mackinaw Trail and is famous for the hymn for which the museum is named. In addition, a special exhibit is on display depicting the oil and gas industry of Reed City in the 1940s.

“We’d like people to see our new artifacts and our new ScanPro reader,” Randall added.

Among its historical items, the building is home to the Osceola County Genealogical Society and has a collection of newspapers, microfilm, obituaries, census records, old photographs and more for attendees looking to learn about their heritage and family past. Randall said the society was organized in 1985 and moved their archives to the museum after the Reed City Library ran out of space.

The museum is located at 4918 Park St. in Reed City. For more information, call Betsy Randall at (231) 832-9525.