Museum program to open Sesquicentennial celebration

The Manistee Elks Lodge will be the location for the opening event in the City of Manistee sesquicentennial celebration at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 27. The opening event is being co-sponsored by the Manistee County Historical Museum and the Elks Lodge. (Courtesy photo)

MANISTEE — The City of Manistee has a long, rich history and during the course of the upcoming months a celebration will be taking place to commemorate its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of it being incorporated as a city.

Manistee County Historical Museum executive director Mark Fedder said everything will kickoff from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 with a special program at the Manistee Elks Lodge No. 250. The two organizations are jointly sponsoring this opening event of what will be a year-long celebration.

Seating is limited to 80 people and there is a cost to attend the opening event. Anyone wanting tickets can purchase them at the Manistee County Historical Museum, located at 425 River St., or the Elks Club Lodge, located at 432 River St.

“They should contact the museum if they want to come, and any proceeds from this event will be divided between the museum and the Elks Lodge,” said Fedder.

The museum executive director said a lot of discussion went into how they wanted to commemorate the big milestone.

“We were all trying to find a way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the city becoming incorporated, so at the museum we were trying to all figure out the best course of action to celebrate that occasion,” he said.

Fedder said they elected to go with several smaller events throughout the year to focus on many aspects of Manistee’s history instead of holding just one huge celebration.

“We thought a good start would be a program called ‘Fun with the Founding Fathers,’ and it basically is the story on how the city came to be incorporated,” said Fedder.

He said it will deal with the history of the members of the first city commission and when the first meetings were held.

“I will talk about how that came to be and I will be doing the presentation telling how all those things started that led to Manistee becoming incorporated as a city,” said Fedder.

Fedder said when museum staff and volunteers began talking about what to do for the sesquicentennial, something that was quickly realized was a need to find a historical venue to host the opening program.

“We thought the Elks Lodge would be perfect because one of the things of the city that we wanted to talk about is the history of all the service clubs,” said Fedder. “They do a lot for the city. What better place to do that than at the Elks as it was built in the early 20th century and is a very unique building.”

That prompted talks with the Elks members, who thought it was a great idea.

“We met with the Elks Club members, but they decided to partner with us and will be providing the refreshments,” said Fedder. “I invited all the current service clubs in the city to the event, so in addition to the history of the city becoming incorporated, I am going to provide a rapid fire history on all the service organizations from 1869 to the current date.”

Throughout those years Fedder said many random clubs came and went that many people might not even be aware of.

“Many people wonder who those organizations were and what they did, so I plan to give a little background on them,” he said.

Fedder said the people from the service organizations he invited will then be asked to stand up and say a few words about the history of their organization.

Manistee Elks Lodge exalted ruler Amy Loftis said they are excited to be part of the opening celebration.

“We were contacted by the museum as they reached out to us quite some time ago because they were going to be focusing on service clubs,” said Loftis. “Being across the street, and being one of the oldest service clubs, we were a natural fit.”

Loftis said Manistee’s Elks Lodge building is quite unique.

“We are one of the few Elks Lodge buildings across the United States that had our building constructed specifically as an Elks Lodge and we have been able to maintain it,” she said.

Loftis said there rich heritage in Manistee is what also made them want to be a part of the opening program.

“We are actually celebrating our 125th anniversary for having an Elks Lodge in Manistee,” said Loftis. “So when I first started talking with Mark about this I said we are perfect for this because we are only 25 years behind the city.”

She said they plan to serve light refreshments, and the event will be held in a portion of the building that the public doesn’t get to see very often.

“The whole focus of the Elks Lodge is veterans working with the community, and the special needs children,” said Loftis. “I think it is a good opportunity to showcase our location and some of the unique features. This is one of the few events where we will be doing it upstairs in our actual lodge room which is usually a place for members only.”

Fedder said the museum plans to follow the kickoff program with some other small events throughout the year.

“We didn’t want to just do one big party and then say that is it,” said Fedder. “So what we doing is other events that follow throughout 2019.”

He cited a history of the city movie theaters at the Vogue Theatre in April, which will include a screening of the 1978 movie “Superman” that will be free to the public.

Another event will be a presentation at the Ramsdell Inn with light refreshments followed by a walking tour of downtown.

“We are going to do several other walking tours, mainly of the west residences,” said Fedder. “We also have a program planned at Rietz Park in August and there will be a Maxwelltown Trolley Tour and one that talks about the manufacturing and all the industry that was here that we will do at North Channel Brewing Company in November.”

He said there will even be a play at the high school that ties into the history.

“There is a lot going on and the museum is really excited to host it and be a part of it,” said Fedder.

The Manistee County Historical Museum is currently on its winter schedule; for any questions or tickets, the museum can be reached Thursday, Friday or Saturday at (231) 723-5531. Find a full schedule of sesquicentennial events under the “Exhibits” section at



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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