Mike Grobbel, of Shelby Township, chairs the Center Line Historical Society’s board and has long family ties to the city. The group is looking for new storage space to house a growing collection that includes stained glass windows from the original St. Clement Church dating back to 1880.

Mike Grobbel, of Shelby Township, chairs the Center Line Historical Society’s board and has long family ties to the city. The group is looking for new storage space to house a growing collection that includes stained glass windows from the original St. Clement Church dating back to 1880.

Photo by Brian Louwers


Center Line historians seek storage space for growing collection

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published September 13, 2019

 One of the old numbered pews from St. Clement is part of the collection of photos and artifacts held by the Center Line Historical Society.

One of the old numbered pews from St. Clement is part of the collection of photos and artifacts held by the Center Line Historical Society.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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CENTER LINE — Collecting artifacts is only one part of building a museum to showcase them. Precious, irreplaceable pieces of history have to be photographed, numbered, cataloged and stored.

It’s a lot of work, but members of the Historical Society of Center Line say they’re up to the task.

But first, they need a new place to store the stuff.

“We’ve got a lot of materials we’ve accumulated over a short time,” said Mike Grobbel, who chairs the society’s board. “We’ve got them in boxes and we know roughly what’s there. We need a place to store them when we go through them and register them and put them in a database.”

Center Line is small, but it has a lot of history. Among the items in the growing collection are a stunning, intact stained glass window and a pew from the original St. Clement Church that date back to 1880. They also have a triangle chime believed to have been used during meetings of the Center Line Men’s Club in the 1930s and 1940s. Boxes of photographs, typewritten manuscripts and records, historical documents, desks and furniture are also in temporary storage at the Kramer Homes Co-Operative.

Looming renovations there mean the collection has to go someplace else. Simple storage space is what Grobbel said the group is looking for right now: something that’s climate controlled, dry and secure. They would need at least 100 square feet of space, preferably big enough to hold one of the newer pews that measures 13 feet in length.

They’d like to keep the collection intact, as everything is sorted and cataloged.

“We’d rather not split it up unless we have to,” Grobbel said. “We’ve got quite a variety of things, some interesting things. We’d like to see them all together, if possible.”

Center Line City Manager Dennis Champine said the city doesn’t have adequate space to house the collection being put together by the nonprofit group. The society is funded by donations and not taxpayer dollars.  

“We’re going to do everything we can to help them that we’re legally allowed to do,” Champine said.

A potential move to a shuttered church property was discussed, and Champine said a historical museum could help complement a cultural center if funding can be secured by the group through a benefactor or other means.

“We have a small group of very active people who are super interested in preserving history. That’s awesome,” Champine said.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the group or its efforts to secure storage space should call (586) 726-0317 and leave a message. You can find the Historical Society of Center Line online at centerline history.org.

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