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Remember the history of Ionia while preserving it

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On November 2, an election will be held in Ionia asking eligible voters to decide on a mileage of less than one mill per year to move the Ionia Community Library from its current location at 126 E. Main St. to the buildings. of the Ionia National Bank. at the corner of Main and Depot streets. The buildings were a gift to the Mercantile Bank of Michigan library and will increase the floor space of the current library by four times.

The current location of the library, which many will fondly remember as the Hall-Fowler Memorial Library would then become a historical museum and research library, as the November 2 vote includes $ 150,000 over a three-year period for help with this reassignment.

The Hall-Fowler House was donated to the city of Ionia by Marion Hall-Fowler, the only daughter of the Hon. Frederick Hall and Ann Eagers Hall, to be used as a library. When the library opened on October 9, 1903, the Curator of the History Rooms on the second floor was Bertha Milligan Brock, IHS Class of 1879. At a young age, Mrs. Brock understood the importance of saving the history of ‘Ionia and her dedication to this cause continues to benefit this community today.

Over the years, the library’s collection of books and artifacts grew and, with limited space, all of the history room items were moved to 251 E. Main St., Maison Blanchard. , which is the headquarters of the Ionia County Historical Society. This turned out to be a questionable decision as Maison Blanchard was meant to be a reminder of life in 1880.

So the story room artifacts were placed in the basement of the house which has winding steps that provide limited access and there is no temperature control. The ICHS volunteers have done their best to share Ionia’s story, but our story will have a much better home when it is returned to the Hall-Fowler location which has an elevator and the accessibility to the building was improved in 2008 with barrier-free entry. ICHS is fortunate to have the advice of museum consultant Jerry Adams, IHS class of 1981. His parents are Bud and Helen (Hogan) Adams. (Helen and I worked together at Perrone’s soda fountain and know the recipe for the best hot fudge on Main Street!) Jerry recently visited the Hall-Fowler site and shared his lasting memories of the building.

Sales notepad from The Vogue Shop at 316 W. Main St., Ionia.  Telephone 527-4940.  The pink slips were used to record the deposits paid.

Speaking of memorabilia, surely there should be room for Ionia’s military history, General Kidd’s writings, and albums kept by the local Blue Star Mothers chapter. Julia Wheelock was a 28-year-old rural school teacher in Ionia Township when she learned that her brother who was fighting for the Union during the Civil War: “Orville is injured – an amputated limb. Julia traveled south and found that her beloved brother had fought in the Battle of Chantilly and had succumbed to his injuries. She remained in the south until the end of the war, having joined the cause as a Michigan State Hospital Officer. Julia cared for the injured and comforted the dying with her desire to spare other families the grief she felt over the loss of her brother. Hundreds owed their lives to his dedication. Please remember Julia.

1950s advert for THE NEW '' IONIA '' STATION WAGON BODY manufactured by Ypsilanti Reed Furniture co., Ionia, Michigan.

The bottom line is this – the November 2 election is a chance to solve the space and storage issues that have been going on for years by reallocating two classic Ionia monuments. The possibilities of the banking building should inspire us all. Those with memories of the past will have access to a facility dedicated to Ionia’s rich history that began with a group of courageous pioneers who chose this place for its natural beauty and resources in 1833 and negotiated with Native Americans. . They had faith in the future and built a city. Imagine that.

The Relocate, Repurpose, Reimagine website is: citizens4ic.org.

If you want to see the Maison Blanchard basement for yourself, call me at 616-527-4945. I have the key.

– Linda Ciangi has been a member of the Ionia High School class of 1956 and a member of the IHS Alumni Association Board of Trustees for over 50 years.


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