10 Historic Sites You May Not Know About in Metro Detroit
Now that my oldest is out of that “any park, any time, all the time” stage, I’ve been finding that I need to put a little more effort into my summer plans. He’s no longer happy with let’s go discover a new park; instead he wants to know what we’re going to do. Now he wants a plan, a reason, when we go out; and more importantly, he loves it when he can discover/explore new things.
So I’ve been researching my summer plans a bit more and I’ve been finding out there’s a lot to do around Detroit than I initially realized. There’s the Michigan Science Center, Cranbrook Institute of Science, and the Zoo – obviously – but did you realize there’s a ton of historical museums in the area too? (you can find a list of all the museums that we know about here)
I’ve come across quite a few historic sites that I didn’t realize were there. Here are ten that I’ve added to my summer adventure bucket list that I hope to get to this summer.
Michigan Central Railroad Depot Museum (Grosse Ile)
This museum, located in a 1904 depot, exhibits displays on railroads, community life and significant Grosse Ile artifacts. Also located at the Depot Museum is the Customs House, which is filled with artifacts, documents and memorabilia detailing life on Grosse Ile and the lives of its residents, from early native Americans to the present. Naval Airstation, which examines naval history through artifacts and photographs.
Dearborn Historical Museum (Dearborn)
Originally the Detroit Arsenal at Dearbornville (1833-75), the Dearborn Historical Museum comprises includes the 1833 Commandant’s Quarters and the 1883 McFadden-Ross House (originally the Arsenal’s 1839 Powder Magazine), as well as a third historic building, the 1831 Richard Gardner House. As part of the museum, visitors can see period furnishings, a scale model of the old Arsenal grounds, genealogical resources, and get a glimpse into simpler times.
Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit)
The museum is the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African American experience, providing learning opportunities, exhibitions, programs and events based on collections and research that explore the diverse history and culture of African Americans and their African origins. The museum houses over 30,000 artifacts and archival materials and home to the Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection, Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, Coleman A. Young Collection and the Sheffield Collection, and a repository of documents of the labor movement in Detroit.
Loren Andrus Octagon House (Washington)
Less than 500 of these rare, Victorian-era octagon houses remain and we are very fortunate to have two remaining both in Washington Township – one that is privately owned and the Loren Andrus Octagon House.
Kempf House (Ann Arbor)
The Kempf House Museum, built in 1853, was home to the Kempfs, a German-American Family who lived and worked in the 1890′s. Guided tours will take you through restored rooms, including the music studio where a 1877 Steinway Concert Grand Piano still remains. The museum will be having an open house on November 17th and 24th, with free admittance, so it’ll be a great time to check it out.
Arab American National Museum (Dearborn)
The Arab American National Museum is the first museum in the world devoted to Arab American history and culture. The Museum brings to light the shared experiences of immigrants and ethnic groups, paying tribute to the diversity of our nation.
Saline Railroad Depot (Saline)
The Saline Depot, built in 1870, includes a station agent’s office and freight room, with exhibits of local history. The grounds feature a livery barn, horse-drawn vehicles, walking trail, and a fully furnished caboose sits on nearby tracks.
Dossin Great Lakes Museum (Belle Island)
This museum chronicles the natural and culture histories of the Great Lakes and Detroit River areas, and showcases the story of the Great Lakes, with a special emphasis on Detroit’s role in regional and national maritime history. Exhibits tell more than 300 years of the region’s rich maritime history, from the shipping fleets that rule the waterways to the varied roles that the Great Lakes and the Detroit River have played in our region’s industrial and social history.
Michigan Firehouse Museum (Ypsilanti)
The Museum features an original 1898 firehouse complete with bunk area and brass pole. Exhibits focus on the history of fire fighting in the State of Michigan and fire fighting technology. Collections include fire trucks, extinguishers, emblems, bells, hats, helmets, ladders, breathing apparatus, clothing, hose carts, nozzles and toy fire trucks.
Automotive Hall of Fame (Detroit)
A museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating outstanding automotive achievement. Since its founding in 1939, the Automotive Hall of Fame has honored nearly 800 automotive industry greats from around the world.