The Meridian Historical Village aims to recreate small-town life during the 1800s for visitors. The outdoor history village is made up of eight historical structures: an 1849 inn and tavern, an 1850 tollgate house, an 1860s farmhouse with barn and outbuildings, an 1877 general store, an 1883 schoolhouse, an 1870s log cabin, and an 1870s chapel. All of the buildings except the chapel are authentic and were relocated to the site. The tollgate house dates from the plank road era and is the only one still in existence in Michigan. The village is operated by the Friends of Historic Meridian, which was founded in 1974. The site also maintains archives and photographs for local history research. The village hosts school programs, day camps, and lectures throughout the year. Seasonal events like the Fall Heritage Festival and Christmas at the Village are very popular with the local community. [1,2]


  • Aerial shot of Meridian Historical Village
    Aerial shot of Meridian Historical Village
  • The Grettenberger farmhouse, donated in 1973 as the first structure in the village
    The Grettenberger farmhouse, donated in 1973 as the first structure in the village
  • The Heathman-Herre general store to the left and Barnes House Inn and Tavern to the right
    The Heathman-Herre general store to the left and Barnes House Inn and Tavern to the right
  • The tollgate house, the only one still surviving in Michigan
    The tollgate house, the only one still surviving in Michigan
  • The Village Chapel, recreated from an original 1870s chapel in Okemos
    The Village Chapel, recreated from an original 1870s chapel in Okemos
  • Inside the chapel, which is used for weddings
    Inside the chapel, which is used for weddings
  • The Parker log cabin
    The Parker log cabin
  • Inside the log cabin
    Inside the log cabin
  • School tours are a major part of the village's educational mission
    School tours are a major part of the village's educational mission
  • Schoolchildren learn how to wash clothes using a washtub and hand wringer
    Schoolchildren learn how to wash clothes using a washtub and hand wringer
  • Schoolchildren listen to a program held in the barn
    Schoolchildren listen to a program held in the barn

Meridian Historical Village began with the donation of the Grettenberger family farmhouse in 1973. The Greek Revival home was built by Johann Grettenberger between 1862 – 1865. The Friends of Historic Meridian volunteer organization was formed in 1974 to maintain the farmhouse and to rescue other historical buildings in the area that was in danger of being demolished.2

The Barnes House Inn and Tavern was the first frame home built in Okemos and the oldest structure at the historical village, dating from 1849. The 1870s log cabin was originally owned by the Perkins family; it was disassembled and reassembled at the village in 2005. The Randall Schoolhouse, built in 1883, was used continuously almost 100 years before being brought to the village in 1987. The Heathman-Herre general store was moved to the site in 1988. The two-story brick building weighs so much that it blew out a tire on the flatbed truck on the way and had to be jacked up with the house still on it! The general store now holds the welcome center, gift shop, and small exhibit. 2

The village chapel is a replica building, constructed after decades of an unsuccessful searching for an authentic one. However, antique pieces such as stained-glass windows, hanging lights, and wall scones were salvaged and incorporated into the replica.3 The chapel is available to rent for weddings and special events. According to a brochure about the village: “Set in a beautiful location, the Village Chapel is a reconstruction of a 19th-century church which stood in Okemos for nearly 100 years. The Chapel features an exquisite narthex and sanctuary. A decorative wall towers behind the raised altar area, providing an inviting backdrop complemented by rich oak floors. A center aisle divides 14 pews that can comfortably seat up to 100 guests.”1

About 3000 students attend programs at the historical village every year.4 Hands-on “chore” activities like churning butter, shelling corn, and using a washtub and hand wringer are a few of the programs offered. Children can even experience a day of lessons in the one-room schoolhouse, complete with slates and McGuffy Readers.5

1. "Meridian Township Parks & Recreation Family Fun Guide 2016." Meridian Township Parks & Recreation Website. Published 2016. Accessed September 7, 2016. https://meridiantwpmi.govoffice3.com/vertical/Sites/%7B1800D46E-0900-43BD-B3FA-10A5660870B1%7D/uploa... 

2. "Village Buildings." Meridian Historical Village Website. Accessed September 7, 2016. http://www.meridianhistoricalvillage.org/village-buildings.html 

3. "Weddings." Meridian Historical Village Website. Accessed September 7, 2016. http://www.meridianhistoricalvillage.org/weddings.html 

4. James, Riley. "The Meridian Historical Village and the importance of knowing local history." The Meridian Times. Published March 17, 2016. Accessed September 7, 2016. http://news.jrn.msu.edu/meridiantimes/2016/03/17/the-meridian-historical-village-and-the-importance-... 

5. "School Tours." Meridian Historical Village Website. Accessed September 7, 2016. http://www.meridianhistoricalvillage.org/school-tours.html