COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — West Michigan Stories went about 15 to 20 minutes west of Grand Rapids in downtown Coopersville to visit the historical museum. What we found was a plethora of historical items and memorabilia from decades ago.
Perhaps the crown jewel of the museum is the Charles Westover display. Who’s that? He’s better known by his stage name as Del Shannon. Coopersville has an annual Del Shannon Car Show each August, but it’s the museum that has some of the best memorabilia around from the 1950s and 60s music star who grew up here. Gold and platinum records, posters, photos, clothing, as well as other personal items. Click here to learn more about Del Shannon.
While the Del Shannon exhibit rocks, the historical building itself was once the depot for the interurban train that ran from Grand Rapids, to Coopersville, to Grand Haven, to Muskegon in the early 1900s. Think of it as an electric street car that made commuting to and from cities in the early days possible. You’ll find plenty of items depicting the old days of rail service. In fact, one of the original rail cars known as “Merlin” sits outside the museum and is in the process of being completely restored.
A general store and the original Tasker Pharmacy (still in business today on Main Street) have been completely recreated with items from the 1880s through the 1900s. The actual ten foot wood door still stands in the museum from the drugstore (built in 1880), along with pharmacy items and household necessities.
You’ll also find vintage camera equipment and some of the first that were ever made…long before digital photography and iphones. Even the famous Magic Lantern Camera, used before electricity. It utilized lithograph plates and oil to get the image.
An almost full size saw mill with a circular saw and 54 inch blade can be found in the museum, along with all kinds of lumber and hand tools used around the turn of the century. How about an old farm wagon complete with wooden spokes and metal tires/rims? It looks like something from the old TV show Little House On The Prairie.
There also an old Philco TV set, record player, typewriter, cash register, and a piano made by the Rankins Family that had music stores in the old days in Coopersville, Holland, and Grand Rapids. The museum also has a military exhibit and photos of Nelson McLean, a veteran who served with the famous General Patton. You’ll also find a mock classroom.
The museum is expected to undergo an expansion in the not-to-distant future and hopes to add more memorabilia and history, especially enlarging their Del Shannon exhibit.
While there is no charge to visit, they do accept donations. Click here for the Coopersville Historical Museum website and much more information.