“We are Quincy,” the village slogan, is posted around town and on road signs.
At the Quincy Historical Museum at 10 E. Jefferson St., “We are Quincy” permeates everything. The museum exists to tell the story of Quincy from the 1800s to the present day.
Housed in a brick church from 1874, considered the oldest existing building in the city, this is the perfect home for such stories.
Karen Hargreave, president of the Quincy Historical Society, and a group of like-minded history buffs were keen to create a museum for their village. Their eyes were on the 1874 church, originally built by a Seventh-day Adventist congregation and used for 95 years until 1969.
The process of purchasing the building, restoring it and creating a historic society took the group almost a decade.
Although they were committed to the cause, they didn’t have many museum items until they prepared the building, Hargreave said.
Apparently, once community members found out that their personal Quincy historical treasures had a safe home, contributions poured in. At the grand opening on August 27, 2010, they had more than enough Quincy history to show, she said.
Exhibits include memorabilia from factories, businesses, banks, and shops that were closed for a long time.
The story of Star of the West Milling Co., one of Michigan’s oldest mills and still in operation, is in the spotlight. Watt’s Drug Store’s soda fountain counter is a particularly nostalgic room for Quincy natives, Hargreave said.
The education record at Quincy includes a very comprehensive collection of yearbooks, photos, information books and a marching band uniform.
Several dresses, military uniforms and firefighter uniforms are on display, all worn by residents of Quincy.
One of Hargreave’s favorites is the Fire Hose Cart. History says that the “Alert Hose Company No. 1” was organized in 1871 using the Button racing cart of 1860.
This not only helped put out fires in the city, but Alert Hose Company also used the cart for competitions.
“The ‘Alerts’ competed against competitors from 38 states to win the National Pipe-laying Champion award at the National Fireman’s Association tournament in Chicago September 5-7, 1878,” the plaque read.
A local resident found the cart in a barn, all in pieces. He completely restored it to the original color scheme, Hargreave said. The Quincy Fire Department displayed it until the museum opened, then moved it to a better house.
When the pandemic closed the museum for over a year, the historical society kept moving forward.
Above the door, an arched window was covered with wood. Behind it was the original decorative window frame. They took it out and had it restored – with a twist. Now, rather than the name of the church, “Museum” is etched into the glass.
And although they have been closed, the museum has not been forgotten. Recently, Amanda Webb, principal of Quincy High School, called Hargreave to request a historical display for a showcase in the high school. She was thrilled and started planning what would interest the students the most.
During the recent Main Street Festival, the museum was open for several hours and 18 visitors came to visit it. Some were listening to Quincy’s stories for the first time and others remembering when.
So many residents, past and present, have contributed, Hargreave said. And an invaluable piece of history came from a Seventh-day Adventist family visiting the area for the 50th anniversary of the “new” church – the one the congregation built in 1969.
This family went through their old church, found Hargreave and poured out volumes of oral history, then returned home, collected photos, wrote down the history of the church, printed a book, and the donated to the museum.
This is another example of the unfolding story of Quincy, discovered, gathered and preserved so that it will not be forgotten.
The Quincy Historical Museum is open from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of the month from May to October and by appointment by calling (517) 639-4595.