There are hundreds of museums to explore. Many of them are local history museums, and these are one of my favourite places to visit. It contains much of what is important to the community, and when I travel with my wife, it is necessary to learn as much about a community to get the whole experience that travel can offer.
We visited the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History during our exploration of Michigan during the Christmas season. Even though there are hundreds of similarly themed museums, not all museums are created equal; this Castle Museum was one of the best locally themed museums we have been to.
The name is a bit of a lie; there are no true castles in North America. The only castles are mainly wealthy homes that were built to look castle-like. This is somewhat true for this building. Designed to look like a European castle to reflect the heritage of the community that it is centred in, its original purpose was to be a post office – quite possibly the most beautiful post office ever built.
But as a post office, it struggled to keep up with the volume of the mail and, almost 100 years ago, was slated for destruction for a bigger, less fancy building. The people of the area protested, and it underwent extensive renovations. Thirty-five years later, there were plans to destroy this building again. And again, the people protested and were able to get it protected on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it serves as a museum and community centre.
If you are a resident of Saginaw, admission is free. But we came from a much farther land and had to pay a small stipend to enter. For a few dollars, we got an incredible value. It is a treat to visit a place that is arranged and decorated with pride. There is a long and varied history in Saginaw County, and this museum was able to represent much of it. One of my favourite places inside this museum was the room that had storefronts showing what shopping would have looked like a century ago. There is a local sports hall of fame, and one of the most compelling and disturbing things was a hidden passage that managers would walk and spy on the workers to ensure they were not stealing.
It is only possible to house some of the artifacts that a museum has in its possession, so there are rotating events. We came at Christmas and appreciated the decorations.
It is possible to spend two hours at this destination. It is a beautiful building and has some great displays of the local history. Museums like these should always be the first stop when visiting a new community.
- The location of the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History can be found on my Featured Map. This map shows all the places we have visited. Begin planning your trips with this map.
- Admission is very cheap.
- Small parking lot, but street parking is available.
- There are three floors of exhibits.