CLARKSVILLE, Mich. -- It seems we have a fair amount of museums in West Michigan...even the smaller towns and villages have their own take and the special historical items that were indicative to that location. That said, the Village of Clarksville in Ionia County has a rare farm/agricultural museum with hundreds of turn-of-the-century items inside. The Farmall Acres Museum (as it's called) is actually housed in the old Bolthouse onion storage facility that was popular in the 1930s and 40s.
The curator of the museum is 75-year-old Harold Metternick. By trade he was an electrician for 45 years and has been volunteering on the Bowne Township Alto fire department for more than 50 years. He enjoys acquiring vintage pieces of farm equipment, then tearing it apart and completely cleaning, painting, and refurbishing it. Perhaps that's the other noteworthy item...every piece of farm equipment in the museum is actually functional!
While Harold has been collecting items for many years, he only just started the museum about six or seven years ago. The goal? To simply preserve the farm and agricultural business and the way things use to be done around and just after the turn of the century. Harold has everything from early hay-bailors, to tedders, to grinders, and hammer-mills from the two big names in farming, International Harvester and McCormick Deering. You'll also find some of the first farm tractors that went in to production, as well old refrigerators and box freezers...the kind that were big, bulky, and heavy.
He's got lawn mowers (both riders and push mowers) from decades ago, including a rare electric riding lawnmower that is substantially quieter that its gas-powered counterpart. What looks to be one of the first generation of paddle-wheel type snowblowers can be found at Farmall Acres, including thousands of hand tools and grinders to keep them sharp. Recognizable logos and emblems from the old days are sprinkled throughout the museum, and it's all arranged in a way that's easy to go through and see how far farming has come.
You'll also find three vintage fire trucks still in great operating condition. On occasion Harold takes the fire trucks (or even a tractor) on the road to participate in local parades. He simply wants to share his love of the farm with everyone and try to preserve a technology that has died. Perhaps it's his past that shows since he worked on the farm himself at a very early age.
Since the Farmall Acres Museum is located in a small community and somewhat off the main path, it sometimes can be difficult to get traffic through the museum. Hopefully, this story will help. It's a fabulous place to take school kids on a field trip, or visit if you once worked on a farm, work on one now, or simply want to revisit the past and the way things use to be. Appointments to see the museum can be arranged with Harold or his wife Ruth. Both are great people and take great pride in what they've accomplished. In fact, Harold notes "I've got equipment to restore that I'll probably never be able to get to...it's a huge undertaking to secure the machinery, tear it apart, rebuild it without any plans/directions/blueprints, then transport it from his place in Alto to the museum in Clarksville.
Great place! Don't miss it if you have the chance to see it...and this from a city boy raised in the Detroit suburbs! Some of this collection should be in the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village Museum! You can contact Harold and Ruth Metternick at (616) 868-6639. Got any suggestions or ideas for a West Michigan Story? Email me at email@example.com You can click here for more information and a map.