May 16 celebration to spotlight
expansion at historical museum
ATTICA TWP. — Attica Township’s Community Celebration on Saturday, May 16 is more than two months away but that isn’t stopping organizers from getting a jump start on prepping for the event to highlight the abundant services and amenities Attica Township has to offer residents and visitors.
Particularly enthused about the upcoming event is Janet O’Donnell, Director of the Attica Historical Museum, who is anxiously anticipating the opportunity to show off the refurbished building.
Once a maintenance building, the updated museum is situated behind the Attica Township offices at 4350 Peppermill Rd., a quarter-mile west of Lake Pleasant Rd.
On May 16, O’Donnell and her staff will host an Open House & Grand Opening at the museum from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Visitors will be treated to doughnuts, hotdogs, popcorn, coffee and lemonade, chances to win a 50/50 drawing and tours of the building.
O’Donnell and her volunteer staff, which includes Nancy Schodowski, Kay Conway, Diane Malczewski and Arlene Ludington, have been meticulously cataloging the museum’s myriad historical items; most of which have been donated by local individuals and families.
For O’Donnell, whose parents, Clarence and Martha Schmidt, took up residence at the Lone Pine Farm on Payne Rd. when she was just 4 years old, Attica has always been home.
“I was raised on that farm along with my two siblings (Joyce and Joann),” she said. “All my childhood memories of growing up revolve around the people and places here in Attica.
“I remember walking to school every day and cutting through the fields to get there,” she recalled. “Lake Pleasant Road was still gravel back then, but I remember the businesses that were downtown and some of those buildings are still there.
“There was Rowley’s and Doug Russell’s stores and Leon Foot’s garage; but most of all I remember the people.”
It’s the memories of those people and places that has inspired and continues to sustain O’Donnell’s unwavering passion and devotion for the Attica Historical Museum and its historic contents.
“We all love this museum because it holds so many memories for all of us,” says O’Donnell. “It’s about our lives and those who came before us.”
While her role at the museum is integral, O’Donnell prefers to acknowledge others, including her staff, museum advocate Phil Madeline, Township Supervisor Al Ochadleus and the Attica Township Board for their dedicated and continued support of the museum.
She attributes their efforts and the support of fellow Attica Township residents for making the recent expansion at the museum possible.
Ochadleus reminds that in 2009, the township spent $20,000 to transform a 24-foot-by-40-foot former maintenance/mechanical building into a space to store boxes of historical artifacts and materials collected by the historical society over the years.
“There was a treasure trove of historical items and information in that building,” says Ochadleus. “It could all have been lost forever if not preserved.”
To ensure the items were saved for posterity and future generations, the township in 2017 took bids and eventually contracted with BAS Architects of Sterling Heights to create a 1,400-square-foot addition at the museum at a cost of $82,475.
The project, which was paid for using general fund money, was completed in 2019.
“What we are now looking at is the result of that expansion project,” says Ochadleus. “We’ve been able to double the size of the museum and add an old school section on the west side of the building.
“Janet and her staff have been doing a great job of bringing all of that history back to life.”
It is O’Donnell’s hope that the May 16 open house serves as a catalyst for increased awareness, greater visibility and ultimately, more museum visitors.
“Right now, the museum is open to the public every Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon,” she said. “We’re also always willing to open up to groups and organizations by appointment.
“We would love it if more kids and school groups stopped in to visit,” she said. “We’d love to get the kids in here. And I’m always willing to open our doors for people wanting to visit.”
More in store
Besides paying a visit to the museum on May 16, youngsters are welcome to enjoy the bounce house, slide or play on Attica Park’s playground toys.
Both children and adults can meet one-on-one with Attica Township firefighters and check out the fire department’s new fire trucks and firefighting gear and equipment.
In conjunction with the community event, the Attica Branch of the nearby Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library be hosting various activities for kids and adults.
Dumpster Day, too
For Attica Township residents seeking to rid themselves of unwanted items, the Township will host its annual Dumpster Day from 9 a.m. to noon on May 16.
The grounds of Attica Township Park feature a one-mile exercise track; two pavilions available for rental; three baseball fields; picnic tables and resting benches; and a playground for children.
For more information about the May 16 celebration, call the Attica Township office at 810-724-8128 between 9 a.m.-noon, or visit www.atticatownship.org.
For questions about the Attica Historical Museum or to make an appointment or a donation, call Janet O’Donnell at 586-255-3108.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.