Historical museum reopens with VIP journey to the general store

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published February 3, 2016

 Some items stand on display as part of “The World at Your Doorstep: the General Store, 1900-1935” at the Clawson Historical Museum. From beaded purses to tomato juice to prescription medication, the museum’s collection features many vintage items.

Some items stand on display as part of “The World at Your Doorstep: the General Store, 1900-1935” at the Clawson Historical Museum. From beaded purses to tomato juice to prescription medication, the museum’s collection features many vintage items.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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CLAWSON — History buffs and community supporters are invited to journey back to a time where anything was possible at the general store.

“You were limited by what he stocked; however, you could order almost anything and have it delivered right to your doorstep or to the shopkeeper,” said Clawson Historical Museum curator Melodie Nichols.

The Clawson Historical Museum has been closed for housekeeping and the installation of a new exhibit, “The World at Your Doorstep: the General Store, 1900-1935.”

Those interested in getting a closer look at the new exhibit are invited to attend a VIP preview party from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Clawson Historical Museum, 41 Fisher Court. Tickets cost $10 and include coffee and a dessert bar.

“It should be a good night,” Nichols said.

The display features a larger-than-life view of George Robinson, who once owned a general store on East 14 Mile Road near the existing ACO store.

The exhibit will take visitors back in time with a storefront countertop filled with merchandise that would be found in the early 1900s. From beaded purses to tomato juice to cleaning supplies and scrubbing pads, the museum has collected many vintage items.

Buyers also would shop from catalogs, some of which the museum has on display along with interesting prescription drug containers — some from former Clawson druggists.

“It is a selection of what shopkeepers would have carried, and they would have carried whatever they could sell, and they would have had probably one brand of most things, maybe two,” Nichols said.

Nichols said the idea for the exhibit came from the current “shop local” movement.

“It’s kind of the trend now,” she said. “Instead of buying from overseas, let’s buy from a local person or let’s hire a local craftsman or look for a Michigan-made product.”

Nichols said she hopes museum visitors will realize that concept is not a new thing.

“It’s a local proprietor, it’s a locally owned company, not a corporation that’s owning these little stores,” Nichols said. “They are in it as much for the community as they are to make money.

“So, I thought the time was right for people to kind of take a step back and look at how we get our goods and realize it’s not all that different. Yet, in some ways, it is very, very different.

“You could order houses by mail.”

The exhibit will run throughout 2016 and be available to peruse during the museum’s new hours,  5-8 p.m. Wednesdays and 2-5 p.m. Sundays. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the whole house’s dedication as a museum.

Mayor Penny Luebs said she will be attending the VIP event and supports the role that the historical museum plays in the community.

“The museum represents our past history and who we are,” she said. “We are able to learn how people lived and build on their successes.”

Tickets to the VIP preview party are available now at event brite.com and will be for sale at the door.

For more information, visit www.cityofclawson.com/your_government/historical_museum or call (248) 588-9169.


Abraham Lincoln visit to highlight Royal Oak museum preview event

ROYAL OAK — The Civil War is over and President Abraham Lincoln will be making a special visit to the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum.

The late president and his wife, Mary, will be speaking at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at 11411 W. Webster Road for guests attending a special preview of the museum’s newest exhibit, “The End of the Civil War.”

Event organizers said the Lincolns will be portrayed by Fred and Bonnie Priebe, nationally known re-enactors who have won national awards for their presentations.

Tickets to the event cost $15, and school-age children accompanied by a parent or grandparent may attend for free. The event will serve as a fundraiser for the museum.

“The End of the Civil War” exhibit, portrayed through photos and documents, will be open to the public Feb. 6 through mid-May. The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

For more information, visit www.royaloakhistoricalsociety.org or call (248) 439-1501.

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