By Sean Gagnier
Williamston Post Staff Writer
The city of Williamston hosted the first annual Williamston History Day Oct. 9 to encourage residents to explore the history of their town all the way back to when it was in inhabited by Native Americans. History Day was a collaboration of several venues working in tandem to put together something that could become a tradition in Williamston.
Organizers expressed their goal to attract visitors to the museums and establish a relationship within the community. Williamston Depot Museum Curator Jane Johnson said that she wanted to bring people who had never known about the museum into the building with history day.
“I heard people wandering around the back cases and saying, ‘I’ve lived here for 10 years and I’ve never been to this place. It’s wonderful’,” Johnson said. “That kind of reaction is exactly what we wanted.”
The event was spread across five historical sites; the Williamston Depot Museum, Branch School, St. Katherine’s Episcopal Chapel, Foote Cemetery and Summit Cemetery.
The Branch School, 985 Sherwood Road, is reopening to the public for the first time as a historical site. It had fallen into disrepair after it was closed, and it took a group of workers nearly three years to completely restore the building said the Williamston Chamber of Commerce in a statement on Sunday.
Activities at the Williamston History Museum included the unveiling of a new Ingham County Historical Marker and the opening of a new history of Williamston exhibit.
“(The Williamston Depot Museum) has had a marker for quite some time now, but a year or so ago one of the teachers at Williamston High School realized that the information on the plaque wasn’t correct,” Johnson said. “So we called the Ingham County offices and they made us a new plaque. That is what we wanted to show off.”
In previous years the exhibits at the Williamston Depot Museum had focused on the history of the building and the railroad in Williamston, but it was recently decided by the museum curators to remodel the exhibits and include a ‘History of Williamston’ portion.
“We cleaned out all of the permanent cases that we had on the floor, and we changed nine of them into our history of Williamston exhibit,” Johnson said. “Visitors can now come in and see Williamston grow from when Native Americans lived in the area up until the 1900s.”
History Day drew several hundred visitors to each venue, and the event planners expressed their support for continuing the event in the future.
“It’s a good event for Williamston, I think it should continue for a long time,” said Rosemary Phillips of the Williamston Historical Society.