By Sue Moore
Having a general store in the Vicksburg Historic Village has been a gleam in Maggie Snyder’s eyes almost since she became curator for the Historical Society in 1984. She is about to see her dream come true as the building is now under construction.
While waiting for it to be completed, Snyder has big plans for the newest addition to the village.
Based upon an old model of what a general store looked like in Vicksburg in the early 1900s, the general store is being built in the southwest corner of the grounds with the Village Sweet Shop attached to its side.
The Historical Society has been collecting items for the general store for many years. Then, the Vicksburg Community Association donated the money to purchase the contents of the Doris Lee Sweet Shop which was in operation on East Prairie Street for nearly 50 years until it closed in 1992.
“Because we like our buildings to look lived in, we are working on sweet treats like ice cream and candy made from plaster of Paris and paint,” Snyder said. “Also, because a real store sells new things, we will be doing light refinishing and repair to some farm and household items scheduled for display in the general store.”
The “Thursday Guys,” a crew of volunteer builders who have been taking care of repairs around the village as well as completely remodeling the Township Hall that was acquired in 2008, have built the general store from the ground up this time, rather than converting an old building.
Jim Bird drew the plans and Ken Evensen, head of the work crew, has sourced building materials from anyone he could convince to part with their lumber. The Edison Neighborhood Center for houses that have been torn down or foreclosed upon by the county treasurer, was the source of the 2 x 4s and the framing materials.
Donations have also come from Frederick Construction and Big C Lumber Company. Now Warren Lawrence has found a donor for interior equipment from a family in Ionia that owns a building housing a general store, built before the turn of the century and closed up in 1904.
It had not been unlocked since then until a contingent from the Historical Society was allowed in.
Inside, it was filthy with all kinds of bugs, dust, and debris lurking inside according to Tonya Nash, a Historical Society board member who checked it out.
Some of the counters will be hauled down to Vicksburg if enough volunteers can be found brave enough to enter the filthy interior of the building, Evensen said.
He expects to get the building enclosed before the snow flies and some of his helpers leave for warmer climes, but he needs more money to bring the project to completion.
The Historical Society board has been examining ways to raise about $11,000 to finish the interior, put a floor on the Sweet Shop and other items that will complete the build out. Donations can be sent to the Vicksburg Historical Society at 300 N. Richardson, P.O. Box 103, Vicksburg, MI 49097 or call 269-649-1733 for further information.