City of Wayne Historical Museum is housed in an 1878 former Village Hall, located at One Town Square in downtown Wayne. All of the collections in the Wayne Historical Museum are a part of Wayne’s proud history, including the building itself.The collection contains over 3,000 artifacts and most of them are paper-based objects: government records, maps, scrapbooks, photographs, yearbooks, and newspapers. Other artifacts are films, clothing, household items, and accessories.
All of the collections in the Wayne Historical Museum are a
part of Wayne’s proud history, including the building itself. The community first
built the two-story structure in 1878 to serve as the Wayne Village Hall. It
had a loose rock foundation, wood floors, and brick walls. Because the
community could not afford the money for a cemented foundation, its foundation
remained unsteady until an expensive renovation project in the 1980s.
Over the years, multiple additions were included in order to
accommodate more functions. In the early 1900s the fire department began
operating out of a wing attached to the back of the building, giving the structure
a T-shape. The police department also used the building and built the basement,
which housed two jail cells, in 1926. As government departments moved to
buildings purpose-built for their use, the community used the building for
other purposes such asthe local Junior Achievement and Chamber of Commerce
The Wayne Historical Society reopened the derelict building
as a museum in 1964, four years after Wayne’s incorporation as a city. However,
they could generate enough funds to sustain the Museum, and in 1968 they turned
over their collection to the city on the condition that the site continues as a
museum to educate the citizens of Wayne. Since then, the Wayne Historical
Society has no official connection to the City of Wayne Historical Museum although
they hold weekly meetings there.
In 1987, two side wings were added for more space. There are
three entrances to the Museum: the main entrance, back entrance, and the loading
dock used for larger artifacts and also for wheelchair access. In the current
building layout, the first floor of the Village Hall, the fire department
addition and the southern wing of the 1987 expansion compose the exhibition
space. A total of seven areas make up the exhibition space of the Museum. The basement added in 1926 is used for general
storage, and the second story of the village hallhouses collection storage.
The City of Wayne Historical Museum contains several unique
collections. Most important are the government records like death certificates
and business charters and the photographic records of the town’s history, an
invaluable resource for genealogists, historians of American town development
and Michigan history, and citizens of Wayne hoping to better understand their
surroundings. A full run of the local newspaper is kept in bound volumes in the
attic. The buggy carriages and sled built at Prouty & Glass, a local
carriage manufacturer that predated the automotive industry, constitute another
unique aspect of the Museum. The furniture and equipment used at the local
hotel, drive-in movie theater, police department, fire department, and other
institutions form the third highlight of the collection, as they lend a
tangibility to the information held in the archives.