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Historical Village

The McKay Cabin, 1898

  The John Peter McKay cabin was built in 1898 on Smith Road about one mile east of King Settlement Road in Wilson Township. There was also a small barn on the farm's 40 acres. 
The two story cabin is a 828 square foot home. The roof's peak is seventeen feet above the ground. The first floor was used as a kitchen, family room and bedroom. Eight stairs lead to the second floor with its three bedrooms. The partitions separating the small bedrooms measure five feet from the floor to the top rail. The wooden floors in the cabin were not varnished, but oiled as needed throughout the year. The walls were whitewashed periodically. Each of the six windows has a single pane of glass. The stove, furniture, dishes and other times on display are not original to the cabin, but they do represent the time period. The cabin was moved the 20 miles to the Besser Museum on June 4, 1971.


Maltz Exchange Bank, 1872

  The Exchange Bank of George L. Maltz & Co. was established in 1872. In 1882, it merged with the Alpena National Bank, and in 1931 it was consolidated into the Alpena Savings Bank. This bank building was the original Customs House Building located on the back of the Maltz property facing Water Street. While a new building to house the bank was being erected on the corner of Water and Second Avenue, this building was moved adjacent to that location to serve the banking firm. Upon completion of the new building, this older Maltz Exchange Bank was moved back to the old Maltz property in the dock area. In April 1972, Frank and Helen Gaasch donated the building to the Museum where it has been restored and preserved.

Green School, 1895

   In 1895, residents in Green Township of Alpena County built a school on land donated by Warren Green. The schoolhouse is of typical rural school design and wood construction. Since opening, hundreds of young scholars have learned their lessons in the one room school house named after Warren Green, which operated continuously through 1961. In April 1981, Mr. and Mrs. Mack Gamage of Lachine donated the Green School to the Besser Museum. With great support from the community, the Besser Museum staff has restored the Green School to its "turn of the century" appearance. Today the museum invites teachers to spend a day with their students in the one room school house and experience history first hand. Research into the history of the school by the Delta Kappa Gamma Teacher's Society has resulted in an educational program with a teacher's packet to be used in Green School.

Spratt Church, 1912

  In September of 1990, the Spratt United Methodist Church was relocated from the Spratt Community in Green Township to the Besser Museum grounds. Many restoration efforts have been made since then. The Spratt Church is now on a new foundation, the north side has been covered wit clapboard siding for energy conservation purposes. Everything from the ceiling line is new; new beams, trusses, insulation, roofing sheeting, and shingles, resulting in a ceiling restored to its original appearance. The wall paper chosen was the closest representation to the 1912 original paper and border. Using part of an original pew as a pattern as well as an earlier photograph, Mr. Enos Torsch of Lachine made 12 pews replicating those originally made for the Spratt Church. There is a total of 27 pews in the restored church that will provide seating. The church is now used for weddings, festivals, and an annual Spratt Methodist Church service.

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