This year, I was able to take advantage of my first Museum Day. Ten museums throughout Jackson County opened their doors to the public for the day, FREE of charge. How cool is that?! I love museums, and had heard of this day before, but unfortunately, never got the chance to participate. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by again!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to all ten stops in one day. You see, I like to take my time in museums. As a history lover- especially when it comes to learning about my hometown- I try to take in as much as possible. I went with a few friends, and we decided to pick a few places that we had not yet visited, or may not get the chance to visit in the near future.
At the top of our list- Cell Block 7. I have been wanting to tour this since it first opened, and let me tell you, it exceeded my expectations! It was chilling to think as we walked through the halls and explored the cells, this was where actual convicts served their time. As one of our guides said, Cell Block 7 was where many began their prison “career”. It was interesting to see where movie scenes were filmed for The Old Man & the Gun, read notes from former convicts who once stayed in the cells and have since visited, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to experience the haunting sound as the cells are all opened and closed at the same time. It’s a sound that will echo through your mind long after you exit the walls of Cell Block 7.
Our next stop was the Lost Railway Museum, located in Grass Lake. Relatively new, I wasn’t even aware that this museum existed! Full of history about public transportation, including the Inter-Urban Railway, this was a fun and interesting stop that I look forward to visiting again. If you happen to go, be sure to board the beautiful railway car that is being renovated and restored, contemplate the dangers of riding a bicycle that might be taller than you are (it was taller than me!) and check out the macabre newspaper articles that described, in great detail, tragic transportation accidents from the early 1900’s.
Just down the road from the Lost Railway stands the charming Coe House Museum. If you have ever visited and toured the houses of the Ella Sharp and Waterloo Farm Museums (which were also open for Museum Day), the Coe House is similar in that stepping through the doorway is like being transported to another time. I loved wandering through the rooms, imagining what it would be like to live in the beautiful house during the Victorian Era.
After lunch, we made our way to the other side of Jackson County. Nestled on a side road in quiet Spring Arbor sits Ye Ole Carriage Shop. I had heard of this place before, but didn’t realize it was a museum, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’m pretty sure a smile spread across my face the second we set foot in the door, and stayed until we left. What appears to be a decent sized building from the outside seems to quadruple in size as you explore the inside. It just keeps going! Each room contains something different from the last, from vintage toys, to the largest Coca-Cola collection I’ve ever seen, to rooms upon rooms of automobiles. Everything is impressively displayed and there’s something to catch everyone’s eye.
I enjoyed every minute of Museum Day 2018! I highly recommend visiting any of the museums located throughout Jackson County any time you can, and definitely taking advantage of Museum Day when you can visit them for free!
--Written by Melanie Schmall
Melanie Schmall was born and raised in Jackson, where she still lives with her fiancé Eric, and their two fur kids, Roger and Penny. She loves spending time with her friends and family, and volunteering whenever she gets the chance.
Jackson County Museum Day 2019 is Saturday, May 11th, 2019! Learn more on experiencejackson.com