Explore Local military history

By: Linda Shepard | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 1, 2015

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ORCHARD LAKE — An upcoming event aims to explore the former Michigan Military Academy, which existed on the current site of Orchard Lake Schools 140 years ago.

“We have rich history piled on top of one another here,” J.J. Przewozniak, curator of collections at The Polish Mission, said in a statement. “It’s amazing once you start uncovering the layers of life that are visible in documentation and pictures.”

“Untold Stories of the Michigan Military Academy” is a joint effort by The Polish Mission, the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, the Detroit Center for Public Archaeology and local historian Brian Bohnett.

The event includes a brunch, presentations, exhibits and guided tours of the Orchard Lake Schools campus. The Michigan Military Academy was known as the West Point of the West and was in operation from 1880 until 1905, when the property transformed into the Polish Roman Catholic Seminary.

Today, the Orchard Lake Schools campus includes the SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, St. Mary’s Preparatory and The Polish Mission.

“Being able to connect to our local past is what makes history so interesting and important,” Liam Collins, managing director of the  Detroit Center for Public Archaeology, said in a statement.

“Archaeology is the tangible exploration of the past. It is the study of the things left behind by those who went before us,” Collins said. “It tells the stories of those people who were left out of history books and written records.

“The Michigan Military Academy stood apart as unique for its time, and therefore connects as an important part of making the present-day Orchard Lake community what it is today,” Collins said. “But the story is largely untold outside of historians and academics.”

“Untold Stories of the Michigan Military Academy” featured at The Polish Mission will be presented 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 10 in Building 15 at Orchard Lake Schools, located at 3535 Commerce Road.

Tickets cost $15. To purchase tickets before Oct. 7, visit www.gwbhs.org/events.