Civil War program to return to Orson Starr House

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 27, 2021

 From left, Kathy Putnam, Rick Karlowski and Alex Kerrigan dress in historical garb during the Civil War program at the Orson Starr House in 2019.

From left, Kathy Putnam, Rick Karlowski and Alex Kerrigan dress in historical garb during the Civil War program at the Orson Starr House in 2019.

Photo provided by Alex Kerrigan

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ROYAL OAK — From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, the Royal Oak Historical Commission will host its annual Civil War program at the historic Orson Starr House, 3123 N. Main St., south of 13 Mile Road.

The free event will include live demonstrations, period costumes, Civil War reenactments, live music from the time period, and tours of the museum. The Starr house was an induction center for Union soldiers during the Civil War.

The wooden frame house was built in 1845 by Orson Starr, an early settler from upstate New York who became well known for manufacturing bricks and cowbells, which are now sought after by antique collectors. The home remains in its original location.

Nancy Robinson, vice chair of the Historical Commission, said the event would include a Union soldier and battlefield surgeon.

“There’s a lot of history in that house,” Robinson said.

Alex Kerrigan, chair of the Historical Commission, said the Civil War program was canceled last year but the city felt it was important to bring it back in 2021. The city of Royal Oak celebrates its centennial anniversary this year, and the Orson Starr House celebrated 175 years in 2020.

“It’s important that we have this (program) this year just to try to educate everyone,” Kerrigan said. “(Inside the museum), a lot of the bells are on display. Last year, we got a donation of a lot of bells back, and there are a lot of donations (on display) from residents from that time period.”

She said the museum is staged like a house would appear in the late 1800s.

“In the past, we had cookware and a tent set up outside,” she said. “I dress up, and my daughter dresses up. We have a few people sit on the porch and talk to people coming in and give information as well.”

Kerrigan added that the event will include a few musket drills and that children would have the opportunity to “enlist” in the Union army, participate in a musket drill and take home a certificate.

Robinson said the Historical Commission currently is seeking volunteers to help maintain historic tombstones in the old part of the Royal Oak Cemetery, 1600 Rochester Road, south of 12 Mile Road and just east of Main Street.

Additional parking for the Civil War program will be available in the nearby Salvation Army parking lot.

For more information, call (248) 588-0170 or visit facebook.com/OrsonStarrHouse.

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