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IXL Historical Museum has new displays

Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo Ken Olson, an IXL Historical Museum volunteer, shows off a milling machine he donated for display at the museum i Hermansville. He also donated two other pieces of equipment — a grinder and power hacksaw.

HERMANSVILLE — New displays have been added to the IXL Historical Museum, which opened for the season Memorial Day weekend at W5551 River St. in Hermansville.

Museum volunteer Ken Olson of Hermansville donated three pieces of equipment last fall — a milling machine, power hacksaw and grinder. These are now part of an outdoor exhibit that features equipment that would have been used by the lumber company.

“All three pieces were used in my personal machine shop,” said Olson, who has been with the museum for five years.

The milling machine, which is a sharpening tool, would have been used between World War I and II. The hacksaw and grinder, run by flat belts, date back to the turn of the 20th century.

“Blades for wood planers would have been used in the machine shop at this mill,” he said. “The hacksaw would have been used to cut metal.”

Olson also added oval-framed photos of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Perry, the original owners of the “company house” on site. The couple, along with their three daughters, would have lived in the house in the 1920s.

New photo displays are now hung in the second-floor hall of the main museum.

Olsen said he has been researching many of the donated photographs to put together collages of those similar in topic and date.

“We have a few new photos that were before 1888, which was before the town burnt down,” Olson said.

He hopes to get a few more on display for the upcoming season.

The village of Hermansville was founded in 1878, when C.J.L. Meyer of Fond du Lac, Wis., started a saw and shingle mill to process the pine and cedar timber on lands he had purchased. Meyer operated this mill until 1883, sending most of the product to Fond du Lac to stock his sash and door factory. At that time, Meyer organized the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company, which acquired the mill and landholdings as the principal stockholder. Dr. G.W. Earle acquired almost all the stocks and bonds of the company in 1900.

The IXL Historical Museum was the main office building, which dates back to 1881-82. Artifacts housed in that building are 99% original, with the office equipment still the way G.W. Earle left it.

An unique attraction on the first floor of the historic office building is the walk-in vault. Other items in the building include crank telephones, dictaphones, inkwells, adding machines and documents for the public to view.

“We also have a Hermansville-printed $5 bill on display,” Olson said.

The second story of the building was a residence that features the company’s living area, complete with living room, dining room and bedrooms, all furnished with decor from that period.

In addition, visitors can tour the original “company house,” one of the oldest homes in Hermansville; carriage house; Hermansville’s original produce warehouse that contains a representation of a company store from the early 1900s; and railroad depot.

The museum would like to open an actual working blacksmith shop in the future.

“This would be a great addition, as we could have a blacksmith do demonstration during our special events,” Olson said.

The museum was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1973 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

With the opening at hand, the museum is in need of volunteers, Olson said. “We will teach anyone,” he said. “Those interested can sign up for a shift once a month or once a year.”

Some of the museum’s upcoming events are their annual Fourth of July car show and Vintage Day event set Aug. 15.

During the regular season, the museum is open Fridays and Saturdays only. Group tours or tours outside of regular hours can be arranged by calling 906-498-2326.

Admission to the museum is by donation.

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