History will have a home: Lake Twp., Walbridge, Millbury talk about opening museum

By Debbie Rogers, [email protected]

The former Lake Township Administration Building on Main Street in Walbridge.

J.D. Pooley | Seninel-Tribune

WALBRIDGE — History is in the making on Main Street, with the village, Lake Township and Millbury collaborating on a museum.

The history museum will be located in the former Lake Township Administration Building on Main Street in Walbridge.

Leaders are envisioning a space that will highlight the area’s founders and the rich railroad history, with rotating exhibits, plus many volunteers and free admission. It could open sometime next year.

“In my view, it’s going to be a partnership where we’re all working together on this project — because it is all of us, and the history of all our communities,” said Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko.

Lake Township Trustee Richard Welling said he has met with Walbridge and Millbury leaders.

“We’re going to try to cover the costs,” he said, adding that the building needs to be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The history of trains will be instrumental, he said.

“Really, Walbridge exists because of the train yard that was here,” Kolanko said. “I think we need to showcase our youth sports teams. We need to showcase some of our founding fathers that helped build Walbridge.”

Other things that could be highlighted are businesses and the former Walbridge High School, he said.

“There’s a lot of wonderful stories that I would hope would be part of that museum idea,” Kolanko said. “It’s something, too, where I would like to see our community pitch in. A lot of people have wonderful memories or artifacts of Walbridge.”

Kolanko said he will be meeting with Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer, who is also the township administrator, to talk about a timeline.

They need to make sure the structure is intact, and parking is available, Kolanko said.

“I’m hopeful that within a year we could have something up and running,” he said.

Welling said the roof and furnace are in good shape.

He has been researching the history of the building.

“The weird thing, if we stop using that building, it reverts back to the original family,” he said. “They put that right in the deed.”

The land was donated by the Baker family, Welling said.

Trustee Ken Gilsdorf said he is working on getting a wheelchair ramp and display cases donated.

According to the book “The History of Lake Township,” the cement block, one-story building was constructed in 1909 at 217 N. Main St.

The construction bids that were received ranged from $1,297 to $1,843.

The trustees used the building for township meetings until 1994, when the administration building opened on Cummings Road and Ohio 795. That building was destroyed in the June 2010 tornado, then rebuilt.