Old Rugged Cross museum now open
Viability of museum in question
REED CITY -- The Old Rugged Cross Historical Society Museum in Reed City is now open from 1 to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
In keeping with the executive orders concerning the coronavirus, social distancing and face masks are encouraged.
Admission is free, but donations are requested to help defray expenses.
Located at 780 N. Park St., the museum pays tribute to the Rev. George Bennard, who wrote the old gospel hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross."
It includes personal items of Bennard and his wife, such as, a guitar, typewriters, a piano, furniture, books, a stereopticon slide projector Bennard used in his traveling sermons, and framed, hand-written lyrics to "The Old Rugged Cross."
The museum also has rooms depicting everyday life in Osceola County in past centuries.
One of the two rooms depicts early life in Reed City and includes a dining room, kitchen, parlor, bedroom, and office furnished with items from Reed City businesses.
A second room contains displays of early farm equipment, shop tools, equipment from the Reed City Michigan Cottage Cheese factory, an antique fire hose, a 1930s era fire truck and equipment, Native American artifacts, and models of early logging operations.
The museum also houses archives of the Reed City Are Genealogical Society, including microfilms of old area newspapers and county census records, as well as old photographs.
The Old Rugged Cross Museum was a topic of discussion at a recent Reed City city council meeting.
Mayor Trevor Guiles questioned the viability of the museum, because it does not bring in enough money to support its expenses, and the city is subsidizing it.
According to attorney Dave Porteous, the building that houses the museum was built by the city. The city now rents the building to the museum operators.
"There have been conversations that the societies that operate it should buy it from the city and become self-supporting," Porteous said.
"There is nothing I know of that would prevent them from developing a capital campaign to raise the money to purchase the building and establish and endowment to operate it," he added. "One of the individuals that was very committed to the museum over the years established a fund in the community foundation grant program, so that would be a good place to look. In tough economic times, it will become harder for the city to subsidize the operating expenses."
Council member Nate Bailey suggested he could get with the organizers and discuss possible ways of generating some capital funds through grants.
Guiles said he believed that would be the best course of action, because, as it stands they are not brining in enough money to cover their operating expenses.