Situated between Battle Creek and Jackson, Marshall, Michigan is a small town with a storied past. With more than 800 historical buildings in town, it seems everywhere one turns in Marshall, they are surrounded by history.
For residents and visitors alike, eight fascinating Marshall museums are one of the best ways to appreciate the city’s history. Each museum is unique and helps tell the story of a historical town.
Each museum is within a mile of downtown Marshall, and visiting one (or all) of them is a fun way to navigate through history.
202 E Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
One of the more unique museums in Michigan is the U.S. Postal Museum. The museum holds the largest collection of memorabilia about the U.S. Postal Service besides the Smithsonian.
The museum documents the entire history of mail delivery in the United States. That history is displayed with photos, antique equipment, educational displays, and more.
Fans of museum memorabilia will enjoy the museum’s displays, which include antique mail trucks, the world’s first postage stamps, a horse-drawn buggy, and a storefront post office from the 1890s.
Note: The museum is open by appointment only. Call Mike at 269-420-7030.
602 E. Washington St., Marshall, Michigan, 49068
Old schoolhouses hold a unique fascination for history buffs and the Capitol Hill School Museum is no exception.
The Capitol Hill School is a two-room schoolhouse that served Marshall for 101 years. In 1968, the building was sold to the Marshall Historical Society, which has worked to restore the school to its former glory, from the roof to the trim to replicating the bell tower.
Once inside the museum, visitors can spend time in two distinct rooms. One is set up like a 19th-century classroom with slate boards, desks, and a school bell. Visitors can sit at desks, write on the boards, and get a sense of school days in older times.
The other room contains exhibits relating to how the educational system of America was created in Marshall, how Marshall did not become Michigan’s capital, and the history of music education.
Note: The museum is open by appointment only. Call 269-781-8544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
720 Fair St. Marshall, MI 49068
The Calhoun County Fairgrounds in Marshall are home to Michigan’s oldest fair each August. But they’re also home to a collection of museums at a site once expected to become the site of the state capitol.
While Lansing became the state capitol, Marshall kept its small-town charm. Over time, a collection of historic buildings took residence at the fairgrounds, creating another Marshall museum space.
The buildings at the fairgrounds include:
- Calhoun County Fair Museum: Tells the story of Michigan’s oldest fair, the Calhoun County Fair, that began in 1839.
- Floral Hall: A building from 1860 that holds the distinction of being the state’s oldest fair building.
- Houston School: This rural schoolhouse was built in 1836 and operated until 1967. It was moved to the fairgrounds in 2005.
- Old Maple Grove Church: This church, built in 1901, was moved to the fairgrounds in 2006.
- Lockwood/Avery Granary: This historic building retains all of its original bins, leather belts, and metal drive equipment.
Note: The museums are open by appointment only. The fair office number is 269-781-8161 or email email@example.com
107 E Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Museums don’t get much more wonderous than the American Museum of Magic, which has delighted visitors of all ages since 1978. Residents and out-of-town visitors can fully immerse themselves in the worldwide history of magic and discover the nation’s biggest collection of magic artifacts.
The AMM has been described as the “Smithsonian of American Magic,” and visitors can marvel at the artifacts and stories of renowned magicians like Harry Houdini, Harry Blackstone, Percy Abbott, and many more.
Related: Colon, Michigan, known as “The Magic Capital of the World” is about 40 minutes southwest of Marshall and is home to the famous Abbott Magic Company.
The museum was the brainchild of former journalist Robert Lund, whose collection of magic artifacts and archives came to be housed in Marshall. Lund’s private collection of magic-related items grew to include more than 350,000 pieces of short-term memorabilia, costumes, photos, diaries, thousands of posters, and more than 12,000 books on magic.
Note: The museum is open by appointment only from December to March. The museum is inside a historic 1860s building. The museum’s first floor is wheelchair accessible, while the second floor is accessible only by stairs. Guided tours cover only the first floor, making the second floor optional.
612 S Marshall Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Once upon a time, Marshall was close to becoming Michigan’s state capitol. The town was so close that a Governor’s Mansion was built under the supervision of Marshall resident James W. Gordon in 1839.
Ultimately, Lansing became Michigan’s state capital in 1847, and Gordon became Michigan’s third governor in 1841.
The Governor’s Mansion remains one of the most notable landmarks in Marshall. This two-story Greek Revival mansion features historic, elegant design elements that reflect an affluent mid-19th-century lifestyle.
The rooms are decorated with authentic artifacts and period pieces, offering visitors a glimpse into the daily lives of Michigan’s early governors and their families.
Note: The museum is open to the public seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
402 Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Historical museums in cities of all sizes are places to tell the stories of the people who live there. The Marshall Historical Museum is no different, serving to preserve the history and stories of this historical town.
The museum, formerly the Marshall Grand Army of the Republic, was constructed in 1902. After the Civil War, it served as a gathering place for Union veterans.
Visiting the museum and exploring its exhibits is like taking a walk through the deep history of Marshall. Some of those exhibits include:
- Marshall Arts: An exhibit about famous people born and raised in Marshall. It includes items from the Hinkle Automatic Theatre, a marionette show that once toured around southern Michigan.
- Civil War: The items on display include souvenir medals, equipment, and those related to Capt. DeVille Hubbard, who organized the Marshall Light Guard. The guard became part of the Union Army and fought during the First Battle of Bull Run.
- Made in Marshall: An exhibit of unique items made in Marshall, including a buggy, a Royal bicycle, and a folding bathtub.
Note: The museum is open seasonally from May to October on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
107 N Kalamazoo Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Fans of historical architecture will love touring the Honolulu House, a unique structure whose style includes Polynesian, Gothic Revival, and Italianate influences.
The house was built in 1860 by Abner Pratt, a former U.S. Consul to Hawaii and former Chief Justice of Michigan’s Supreme Court. It was built to reflect the area Pratt lived in while he resided in Hawaii.
Right away, visitors will notice a sizeable nine-bay porch and its center as the base of a tower topped by a pagoda. Its tropical features include an observation platform and a raised veranda.
Renovations over time have restored the house to its 1800s elegance, down to its original exterior colors.
Note: In 2024, the museum is open from May to October, Thurs-Sun from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is open on weekends only in November and December from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
220 W Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Many Michigan cities have museums that tell the story of the Great Lakes State’s automotive history, and the Walters Gasoline Museum is one such hidden gem.
The museum is at the former Marshall Interurban Railway Depot, which dates back to 1903. It offers visitors a fascinating look into the past and the impact of gasoline on the American automotive industry.
Visitors to this Marshall museum will find a unique collection of memorabilia, including cars, signs, advertisements, vintage gas pumps, and other pieces of Marshall’s history. They can also find much more than automotive artifacts, including eclectic collections and artifacts from downtown mercantiles.
Note: Tours are available by appointment from late May through the weekend after Labor Day.
Visit One of Marshall’s Fascinating Museums Today
From historic schoolhouses to architectural marvels to magical artifacts, Marshall museums have something for everyone. Marshall is brimming with historical sites, and each of Marshall’s museums offers a unique perspective on different parts of the city’s history.
A visit to just one of Marshall’s museums is a perfect family activity for a day trip and is a great way to learn about the storied past of this quaint Michigan town.