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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeping a Legend Alive in Michigan

Before going further into some developments taking place regarding Holling’s career, I want to stop and credit the work being done in Leslie, Mich. Holling’s home town is also the home of the Leslie Area Historical Museum and a special area devoted to Holling's art, writing and achievements.

Joan Hoffman, who curates the Holling collection, describes activities there. “The Leslie Area Historical Museum operates under the charter, constitution and by-laws of the Leslie Area Historical Society. The museum workers are custodians of the many historical items, which are cataloged, displayed and properly cared for. The City of Leslie has provided the space we use."

Joan Hoffman

“The Society's function is more fund-raising and lining up public historical programs. They played a big part in the recent 175th anniversary of Leslie. It was Steve Hainstock's vision and effort that initiated both the Society and Museum in 2007. He has a wealth of historical knowledge, and we look to him often for guidance.

“Leslie is a small town,” Joan says. “A major highway once went through town. Since Route 127 was moved to the west and hooked up with the Interstate highway system, many businesses that once were in Leslie are now gone. It seems to me Leslie is looking for its identity like many towns where the major road now bypasses them. Leslie and the area have a lot of history, and that is what a few of us are trying to promote.”

One function of the museum is to be there for visitors, serving individuals and groups. “Groups like Scouts come yearly. We have school groups sometimes and the Chamber of Commerce once a year. One of our people is particularly good at genealogy and maintains a file on families. We work with the town library and have had small displays in their display case, and for awhile we had displays in a vacant store front.”

The Historical Society and Holling collection is housed in the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) building represented in this postcard. This is on Bellevue, a short distance east of Main St.

“Above the upper window arch,” Joan points out, “are 13 upright rectangular stones that follow that curve. Those represent the thirteen original states. The pole that looks like it divides the window and the 13 stones is a flagpole.

There are only two floors, none at ground level. The museum is in a room in the basement. “See what looks like grates to the left of the steps?” she asks. “Those are our basement museum windows. The corner stone just to the left of the basement windows says 1903.”

If you’re traveling through southern Michigan, you’re invited to take a little time to visit the Holling collection and learn more about one of America’s favorite writers. The Leslie Area Historical Museum is at 107 E. Bellevue Rd., P.O. Box 275, Leslie, MI 49251; 517-589-5220.

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