Flat River Museum showcasing Greenville history this weekend

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 9:49 am on Friday, May 02, 2014

Greenville’s combined bands performing on Lafayette Street in downtown Greenville in 1929. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE — For those searching for a unique, eye-opening look at Greenville’s history, look no further than the Flat River Museum this weekend.

Celebrating the “Spring Into The Past” mentality with “America’s Pastimes” as the theme, the museum is offering new displays that dive deep into Greenville’s history, showcasing fun elements from the past that were likely otherwise forgotten.

“With this as our theme, we are excited to present four new displays in our museum this year,” said Flat River Historical Society and Museum President Keith Hudson. “We have worked hard researching and putting these showcases together. You will not want to miss this exhibit.”

A display case at the Flat River Museum in Greenville shows the history of baseball in Greenville as part of the America’s Pastimes exhibit. — Daily News/Cory Smith

The four exhibits include baseball at the turn of the 19th century, city bands, movie theaters, and opera houses, all specific to Greenville.

The museum is offering extended hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday for guests to explore the exhibit.

Through the museums’s board of directors’ research, Hudson said the efforts unearthed some unique facts about Greenville’s history, such as that the community was once the home of two professional minor league baseball teams that competed against larger cities such as Grand Rapids, Lansing and Jackson.

On July 2, 1867, the first ballgame between organized teams was played in Greenville between the Eagles of Greenville and the Wolverines of Ionia.

After a five-hour nine inning game, Greenville won by a score of 86 to 61.

Guests of the exhibit can also dive into the lifestyle of a Friday evening in the late 1800s, when residents would spend 5 cents to purchase a ticket at the Margueritte Vaudette nickelodeon theater to watch movies.

Another display showcases the history of bands in Greenville. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Another surprising fact is the love and support shown to Greenville’s city bands, long before the Danish Festival Band was ever imagined.

Citizens of Greenville even voted 731-283 to support a millage in support of the city bands in 1924.

For more of the exhibit, curious minds will have to wander to the museum this weekend. Admission is free.

The museum, located at 215 N. Franklin St., opens yearly in April and remains open through December. The regular hours are from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on weekends with additional hours available by appointment.

Flat River Historical Society and Museum Trustee Kelly Worden, who assisted Hudson in setting up the exhibit, said the photos and relics in the exhibit are a treat not to be missed.

“The museum is one of Greenville’s special gems,” she said. “Seeing the faces and artifacts from our new ‘Spring Into The Past’ displays make these moments in time come to life.”

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