The Marshall Historical Museum at the GAR Hall will open for the 2021 season on Saturday, May 8, and feature a special exhibit recognizing the contributions to Marshall of Harold C. Brooks, its leading citizen of the 1900s.
The exhibit features a Steinway piano and other furniture pieces that had been in Brooks’ long-time residence at 310 N. Kalamazoo Ave. The museum at 402 E. Michigan Ave. is open 12-4 p.m. weekends only.
Brooks was a civic leader, philanthropist, preservationist, historian and businessman. He lived from 1885 to 1978 is and best known for running the Brooks Rupture Appliance Co. for most of his adult life.
He is credited with inspiring Marshall’s historic preservation movement. He is noted for saving the Honolulu House from possible demolition and leading the effort to convert what once was an old livery stable into city hall. He donated the Brooks Memorial Fountain to the city as part of his effort to the lead the 1930 Marshall centennial celebration. He donated the land for the airport and led the campaign to build the current Oaklawn Hospital building.
Other museum attractions include the Hinkle Automatic Theatre, an early 1900s marionette show, that once toured southern Michigan. There are exhibits that show key events in Marshall’s history including the roles of area men in the Civil War. Also on display are locally made products including a Page Brothers buggy and a Marshall folding bathtub.
Adult admission to the history museum is $10 and also includes a tour of the Honolulu House Museum, 107 N. Kalamazoo Ave. There is no charge for visitors age 12 and under and for Marshall Historical Society members.
The Marshall chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic constructed the building in 1902 as a meeting place for the Civil War veterans’ organization that remained among the strongest advocacy groups in American politics. The historical society has operated the building as a museum since 1977.
The piano and furniture were donated to the historical society by Brooks’ great-grand-daughter Anne Easter of Cary, N.C. His grandson John Twist from Grand Rapids provided numerous other Brooks family items and assisted in creating the exhibit.
The purpose of the Marshall Historical Society is to preserve, protect and promote Marshall’s historic heritage. The historical society owns and operates three museums and manages the Marshall Historic Home Tour and the Marshall Candlelight Walk which are expected to return this year.