Inventive incentive celebrates county’s 200th birthday

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 23, 2018

MACOMB COUNTY — What better way to celebrate Macomb County’s 200th birthday than taking a tour of its historical places?

The Macomb County Historical Society is encouraging doing just that with its 2018 passport to Macomb County history incentive.

A passport can be picked up at any of the 26 participating historical sites. Visitors have a year to gather a minimum of seven stamps to prove their visit. A filled passport can then be redeemed for a free meal at participating Culver’s restaurants in Macomb County.

Some of the historical sites listed on the passport map are the Clinton Township Historical Village, Packard Proving Grounds, Chesterfield Historical Village, Lorenzo Cultural House, Selinsky-Green Farmhouse Museum, Michigan Transit Museum, Baumgartner House, Warren Historical Gallery, Wolcott Mill Metropark Historic Center, Selfridge Military Air Museum, Rudy Nautical Museum, and the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

Kim Parr, director of the Macomb County Historical Society and the Crocker House Museum, which is also a historical destination, said the new program is a great way to honor the county’s 200 years of history.

“I think it will attract more people to our historical sites and enlighten more people to our rich history,” Parr said. 

And it’s just one of many things planned for the county’s bicentennial throughout the year, including a Bootlegger’s Ball in Mount Clemens in June and a torch relay around Memorial Day.  Various communities will have their own events planned as well. In August, Parr said, the Crocker House Museum will host a live music event that will feature local actors dressed as and acting as notable Macomb County residents from the past. She said it will be a party and will include food and more. Parr said the most vital part of the program is that it will open people’s eyes to how important it is to save these historical sites and others.

“We’re trying to instill an appreciation for not only the history of Macomb County, but the historical sites as well,” she said. “We have lost so many historical sites over the years.”

Phil Gilchrist, director of the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens, which is also on the list of historical sites, said he too is a strong proponent of creative use of historical facilities like the art center.

Located on Macomb Place, the Anton Art Center was built in 1904 and opened at the Mount Clemens Public Library — the first Carnegie library built in Macomb County.

“We hope (the passport program) will give a little incentive to the community to come and visit us and learn more about the history of Macomb County,” Gilchrist said. “I think we’ll get a lot of people here who haven’t visited us before.” Parr said groups like the Historical Society and the Heritage Alliance work to ensure that more sites like the Anton Art Center are preserved, rather than torn down.

“We need to preserve what we have left before they’re all gone. Museum restoration efforts are year-round,” said Parr. “Many Americans tend to just say it’s easier to tear it down and start over. Many look at (historical sites) as a thorn in their side, and they don’t see how they make a community unique and beautiful.”

The passport program also supports area Scout troops, as historical patches can be obtained at some of the sites.

Parr said the passport program wouldn’t have been possible without generous sponsorships that allowed for printing of the passports from the Historical Society, the Macomb County Heritage Alliance, Clinton Grove Cemetery and Culver’s.

Find the link to the passport map at crockerhousemuseum.org or at macombcountyheritagealliance.org. Upcoming bicentennial event details can be found at macomb200.org.