Thursday, February 10, 2022

Sumpter officials urged to re-open tri-county museum

The Belleville Area Museum
Members of the Sumpter township Board of Trustees were treated to a history lesson during the Jan. 25 meeting.

Mary Ban used the public comment portion of the meeting agenda to remind the board members and the public of the importance of Sumpter Township in the history of the area. She displayed copies of several historic artifacts, including a Rosie the Riveter poster, and books detailing the history of the area as she explained the importance to the community of the Belleville Area Museum and the artifacts there.

She explained that the Rosie poster was symbolic of the many, many local women who worked long hours at the Willow Run airport to help make parts and planes to help with the World War II effort. 

“I want to see that museum open as soon as possible,” Ban said. She said that the closing of the museum by Van Buren Township officials in light of the pandemic nearly two years ago was significant. Ban said that the history of the area was important to the future and that the museum was the caretaker of many historic treasures of the area and tri-county.

Her presentation was prompted by recent comments suggesting that Sumpter officials explore the possibility of a museum dedicated to the township.  

 “Sumpter Township is part of the community,” she said, adding she doesn't want to struggle to set up a Sumpter museum, but to reopen the museum that carries treasures from the whole tri-community.

Ban stressed the importance of preserving the history of Sumpter Township and the entire area to the trustees and suggested that each of them read a book detailing the history of the community from 1840 to 1910 written by Jeanne Hartwick. She said the book was “a treasure” and that it could be purchased at the museum once it is reopened. She also cited The Story of Willow Run by Marian Wilson, which is available at the Yankee Air Museum, and the “Rosie the Riveter Cookbook,” only available at the museum as valuable records of the history of the area.

Deputy Clerk Anthony Burdick said there is a copy of the Hartwick book at the media center across the street from township hall available to residents.

“I pray they will put the museum in operation, soon,” Ban said. “It carries rich, rich history from all three communities.” Her remarks were met with applause from the audience members.

Sumpter Township Supervisor Tim Bowman explained that he and Van Buren Township Supervisor Kevin McNamara had discussed the future of the museum and they hope to discuss the matter with Belleville Mayor Kerreen Conley. 

Van Buren Township owns the building in which the museum is housed and Belleville and Sumpter contribute annually to the operation of the facility. 

The Sumpter contribution during the past few years has been $10,000 according to Deputy Supervisor/Trustee Tim Rush although the Sumpter contribution was suspended until such time as the museum was re-opened.

No date for a discussion about the history of the museum by the three municipal leaders was announced.