Status report on the Lake County Museum

By Paul Bigford

Special to the Star

BALDWIN — Change appears slow at the Lake County Museum at the corner of M-37 and 8th Street.  Actually, come spring, the museum will burst into life.  Here’s a brief description of what to expect in the next few months:

As is evident now, the Lake County Historical Society has successfully moved two 1938 Forest Service structures, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and placed them upon new foundations on the lot granted to the LCHS by the Lake County Commissioners. A dedicated crew of volunteers spanning all ages and walks of life worked throughout the past year to repair, re-purpose, rebuild, repaint and restore the northern building.  We tallied 550 volunteer hours of work to date.  Skilled tradesmen were used, often at generous discount, to do the jobs the volunteers could not.

Fundraising provided the cash needed to finance what was not donated or volunteered.  Replacing some siding, putting in new plumbing and wiring, stripping five layers of paint (including a layer of epoxy paint), installing a new furnace and completing ADA modifications has occurred.  We are still waiting for paving, sidewalks and interior painting.  Replacement windows will more closely match the original style and be more energy efficient.  Exhibits will come last, as we use the many donated Lake County items in storage to tell the remarkable story of our county.  Thousands of dollars left in memory of a deceased LCHS member will be used to landscape the exterior.

Recently, the LCHS board met to discuss the best use of the second building, which is a mirror image of the nearly completed museum building.  Due to the growing size of our membership and meetings, the LCHS board voted to keep the exterior almost original, while opening up the interior to offer a sixty seat meeting room with a mini kitchen.  The downstairs wall surfaces will provide additional display space and the upstairs will offer additional storage.  The two buildings will be joined by a low-key, single story connecting building, with two restrooms.  Fundraising for this new building, which will house tourism exhibits, including a 17-foot long Chris Craft wooden boat, will begin shortly.

With the opening of the Museum in late June you can expect expanded hours, a research library to open and more exhibits.  Watch for opportunities to volunteer as a docent, helper or speaker.  We are currently also fundraising through, an internet crowd-funding site.  Last year we raised more than $58,000 towards our Museum remodeling efforts.  We are now raising funds for our emergency roofing project, necessitated by multiple leaks that began to damage our buildings. Our goal is to raise $14,402.  We have raised $8,440 thus far, and an anonymous donor has promised to match every dollar.

To make a donation, go to, type in “Lake County Museum” in the upper right search box, and find us in the list of projects. Then click on the "roof repair" option and follow the directions. Donations may also be made directly to the Lake County Historical Society, P.O. Box 774, Baldwin, MI  49402.    All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for helping preserve your local history!