Historic desk on display at Reed City museum

REED CITY — A rolltop desk that is more than 100 years old and sat in a former local business has found its way back to Reed City.

The piece of furniture, made of solid oak, belonged to Milton Brown, who owned Brown's newsstand and soda shop on Upton Avenue in the early 1900s. The building was demolished long ago, and the property is now home to Yoplait.

According to Emerson M. Brown, Milton Brown's son, who is now 94 years old and still lives in the city, the desk sat in the shop and was used as a filing cabinet of sorts for bills and transactions. But to Emerson, the desk is much more.

"It's my father," he said. "It's my father who was an ideal father for me. The desk means memories."

The Brown building was sold in 1950 following Milton's death in 1933. The desk passed to Emerson's younger brother who used it for his law practice in Chicago and then in his home until his death. It then passed to Emerson's niece, Andrea O. Brown, who donated the rolltop to the Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum.

It arrived safely in six pieces and was reassembled by Ron Ingraham. Emerson, who has been somewhat reunited with the desk, is pleased with its return to Reed City.

"It's one of those prime feelings," he said. "I feel so good about it."

Museum staff are just as thrilled.

"I think it's just wonderful that we have it and that Andrea was willing to share it with us," said Betsy Randall, museum secretary,

Richard Karns, museum president, agreed.

"I think it's good to cherish the memories, because once they're gone, they're gone," he said. "The museum keeps these artifacts of the past safe and preserves them."

The museum also will host an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, for one of the first chances to see the desk. It also has other pieces of furniture from the Brown building, along with a chair that is paired with the rolltop.

The Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday from May 1 through Sept. 30.