Get a glimpse of Tri-Cities life during the late 1800s as you wander through a parlor, kitchen, dining room and bedroom decorated with period-correct furniture and wallpaper. You’ll explore the formality of dining in this period, the different roles men and women played in society, and the ways people entertained themselves before the Internet, television, or even radio.
Step inside our cabin for a journey to the Michigan frontier and a time when people had to provide nearly everything for themselves. Building a home, hunting for food, making necessities such as soap and blankets … they were all a routine part of life for Tri-Cities pioneers.
The Michigan logging industry was so massive that by the 1880s our state was producing as much lumber as the next three states combined. Lumber workers often toiled 14 hours a day and lived in on-site bunkhouses that lodged up to 100 men. Visit our replica bunkhouse to find out how lumber companies were able to keep their workers happy—and how Tri-Cities trees made it from the forest to the sawmill.
Fur Trader’s Post
The fur trade was the first major industry in Michigan. Our replica fur trader’s cabin gives you a look into the dangerous life of a voyageur, and the ins and outs of this lucrative business. Inside the cabin you’ll find tools, clothing, and trade goods that were used during this period as well as information on important traders – such as Grand Haven founding father Rix Robinson.
The Odawa (Ottawa), Ojibwa (Chippewa), and Potawatomie tribes were the first inhabitants of what is now the Grand Haven area. Enter our full-size wigwam to see how tribal life changed after contact with European traders and settlers. Next to the wigwam is an authentic birch bark canoe that was built during The Feast of the Strawberry Moon Festival in 2006. Ronald Paquin, a Chippewa tribal member, led this project.
Life on the farm isn’t easy today, imagine what it was like in days gone by. Success required farmers to possess a wide variety of skills—everything from carpentry to blacksmithing to cow-milking. Our replica barn contains an assortment of tools essential to a farmer’s daily chores. Some of them look a little bizarre; can you figure out what they do?
This is a rotating exhibit space showcasing key companies from the Tri-Cities area. Johnson Boiler is the subject of the current exhibit, which explores how this 150-year-old company has thrived through two World Wars and into the present day as a prominent Ferrysburg business. You’ll learn how Johnson Boiler has embraced change—and how you come into contact with its products.
Ekken's Grocery Store
Before the days of “big box” stores, small grocery stores were where most people acquired food to feed their families. The Ekkens Grocery Store on the main floor of the Akeley building is a model of one such store. Run by the Ekkens family from 1881 to 1953, the Ekkens Grocery Store was an important establishment in the Tri-Cities. Step inside the store and learn about other historic Tri-Cities stores, how food prices from 1895 compare to today’s prices, and how Gerrit Ekkens earned the nickname “Cheese King.”
Take a look at over 100 years of medical tools, medications, and the history of medical practice in the Tri-Cities.
Bastian and Blessing Soda Fountain
This beautiful, Art-Deco inspired soda fountain captures the era of hot rods, sock hops, and going steady. During that era, local manufacturer Bastian and Blessing was a leader in building these fountains, employing Tri-Cities men and women to create their iconic work.