January began with a request for assistance in reorganizing and rearranging the museum. Carolyn Rayl, Gary Kimery, Pat Spencer and Mike Swanger have helped throughout the year in making the museum a more organized and inviting space. Lynn Nolin and Pat Milton have done a great job in creating the displays in the museum’s windows.

In March we received a donation which has, and will allow, for the upgrade of the museum’s display spaces and storage of materials. We have already changed a couple of the display cabinets and storage spaces. More changes are being planned, which may require us to ask for assistance in funding those changes.

May was a busy month. It began with the Almont second grade classes coming to the museum for their annual visit. Before COVID, I would take the children on a walking tour of the historic places of interest around downtown and then give the students a short history lesson once we got to the museum. During COVID, we supplied the teachers with the information so they could conduct the historic tour, and then the students came to the museum for a lesson on Almont’s early history. The students particularly liked learning about Oliver Bristol and the Bear. Each of the children received a “Word Search” puzzle, which was based on Almont’s history.

May also saw repairs to the museum building, which is owned by the Almont Downtown Development Authority. A front display window was replaced due to being broken by a bird strike. The building received an excellent exterior paint job, so the building looks bright and fresh. The painter also repaired and painted the inside of the display windows. Ultraviolet (UV) protective film was placed on the inside of the display windows to protect objects being displayed from the effects of UV light. This allowed us to remove the ugly, dark UV screens from the upper portion of the display and drastically brightened the interior of the museum.

The last weekend in June, we celebrated the opening of the museum– our 26th year of operation. The “Royal Rubes” set up in front of the museum on the sidewalk and performed for over an hour. They received applause from the traffic stopped in front of the museum by the stop light.

August is the Almont Community Historical Society’s (ACHS) annual picnic. We changed things up this year by having subs instead of burgers and dogs. This meeting is a time for members to sit and discuss the things we would like to accomplish during the rest of the year. We also published Volume 3 of “Stories of Almont’s Past”—the stories published in the Tri-City Times from November 2021 to November 2022 and reprinted “Remembrances of Almont 2015”. Volume 3 is on sale at the museum for $15, and we were able to lower the cost of the “Remembrances of Almont 2015” to $20.

The museum was particularly busy at the “Heritage Festival”. We had extra staff in the museum to help visitors. The “Royal Rubes” again set up in front of the museum and performed for about an hour at 1p.m. They moved to the “beer tent” and performed for about another hour beginning at about 4:30 p.m. We had the “M-53 t-shirts” for sale and a photo booth that, for a donation, would take your photograph and place it against a backdrop of historic Almont.

October saw the museum open while the Lion’s Club held their Halloween party. We didn’t have many visitors but it was worth the time to be open. When the downtown businesses held their Halloween celebration on Halloween, the museum handed out candy and a small historical information sheet to over 300 of Almont’s scariest children.

December began with Lynn Nolin setting up “The Christmas Story” display with the infamous “leg lamp”. For the “Holly Day Light parade”, the museum again was setup to have the children come in and create their own “old fashion” Christmas ornaments and write a letter to Santa. As usual, the museum was packed for nearly two hours before the parade. After the parade, the “Royal Rubes” set up in the First Congregational Church and played for over an hour during the church’s “Festival of Trees”.

The December ACHS meeting is our annual Christmas party where we shared great cookies, cakes, and pies and enjoyed each other’s company.

December also saw the completion of Phase I of the establishment of the Almont Community Historical Society Endowment and Project Fund. The fund was created in 2018 and needed to reach an endowment of $10,000 by December 2023. The Endowment Fund is designed to fund the ongoing operational costs of the museum. Phase I only covers a small portion of the current operational costs. We are now in Phase II, which has a goal of reaching $50,000, so the earned income from the endowment fund will fund the entire current operational costs of the museum.

In 2024, we will publish Volume 4 of the “Stories of Almont’s Past” covering the articles from the Tri-City Times from November 2022 to November 2023. We also expect to complete Volume 2 of “The Beginnings–Coming to Almont”, which will have the genealogies and histories of more of Almont’s earliest settlers. In preparation for Homecoming 2025, we will be working on reprinting Hildamae Bowman’s homecoming books and publishing Volume 5 of “Stories of Almont’s Past” covering November 2023 to November 2024. Also, Lynn Nolin is working on a book about Charles Kellogg Farley, which will write a new chapter or two to Almont’s earliest settlers.

The ACHS is planning on getting a storage shed for the space behind the museum. The museum’s small size has forced us to add extra space so we can get the display fixtures and excess artifacts out of the museum and create a more inviting atmosphere within the museum. We will be requesting assistance in the near future with this endeavor.

Also, designs for custom display cabinets are being finalized. Because of the extremely small space of the museum, it is necessary to construct custom cabinets to best utilize the space within the museum. Standardized cabinets would create wasted space which we cannot afford. The process will also require additional financial assistance, which will be requested when we finalize the designs and have cost estimates.

In the near future, when the storage shed and cabinet projects have been completed, we will be working on preserving, digitizing, and storing the many old newspapers presently at the museum. This we be a very expensive project that will require extensive planning to minimize the overall cost. Once the storage shed and cabinets have been installed, we will begin the planning stage for this project. Once that planning is completed and we know the estimated costs, the museum and ACHS will need help in meeting this financial burden. Most of these newspapers are probably the only copies in existence.

As always, the ACHS needs additional members. The membership dues help to cover the museum’s operational costs but what we really need is people who will help operate the museum on Saturdays; people who will do research and write the stories of Almont, both past and present; people who will help operate the museum’s website; and people who will help find ways to fund the maintenance and improvement of the museum and fund the “ACHS Endowment and Project Fund” at the Four County Community Foundation.

Lastly, on a personal note, I have informed the Society members that I will be stepping down as President of the Society at the monthly meeting in February of 2025. Treasurer Nancy Read Spencer will also be stepping down at the same time. The Society needs people who will commit the time and energy necessary to fill these positions. Please come and help us.

Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or jrwade49@ gmail.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.