New siding will protect military annex building
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Crawford County Historical Museum’s military annex building, which has taken on a tired look, will receive needed upgrades this year.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners agreed to fund 50 percent of the $1,600 for siding that will be placed on the exterior of the military annex building.
The county owns the property where the museum buildings are located, the buildings, and it covers the buildings under its insurance policy.
“This has been a project that has been on their radar,” Crawford County Administrator Paul Compo said regarding the siding project.
The historical society insures the contents of the buildings.
Depending on when the rest of the funds can be raised for the siding materials and a building permit, troops from Camp Grayling have offered to supply the labor for the project.
“We’re waiting to get everything in order,” said Karl Schreiner, the president of the Crawford County Historical Society.
The interior of the building will also be revamped as the museum opens for the season this Memorial Day weekend.
Different areas of the building will be used to highlight veterans and showcase photographs and artifacts from the Civil War, World War I, World War II and Korea, Vietnam, the modern era, as well as a spot for the National Guard.
The displays will not be the same as they were the year before as the museum moves forward.
“We will keep rotating photographs around until we go through a complete cycle or until we get new stuff in,” Schreiner said.
A model builder will be sought to recreate scenes from battles fought with airplanes that can be hung from ceiling of the building.
One intriguing display in the museum is from the late Don Geiss, who was among a group of POWs captured during World War II. The troops were loaded onto a Nazi train, and then took on bullets fired by U.S. fighter pilots.
“All they saw were swastikas,” Schreiner said.
Geiss and his fellow troops were released, and were then fired upon by Russian soldiers.
The museum also wants to pay its respect to Crawford County families who have served in various wars throughout the years.
“Those stories aren’t told, and we need to be able to do that,” Schreiner said.
A new sign and emblems for each branch of the military will be placed on the exterior of the building, as well as one recognizing the deep connection between Camp Grayling and the community.
Schreiner hopes that the military annex will get the attention it deserves along with other attractions on the museum grounds.
“I think we have a first rate military museum for a town our size, and I want people to come here and take pictures of it,” he said.
The family of Peter Lukes, of Auburn, donated $7,075 to the Crawford County Historical Society to put a new roof on the Military Annex building in 2015 in his memory.
Lukes served nearly 40 years in the Michigan National Guard and had a close connection with Camp Grayling. For seven years, he served as the command sergeant major for Camp Grayling. The command sergeant major serves directly under the Camp Grayling commander, ensuring that day-to-day operations, activities and training proceed as planned. Lukes died on Sept. 27, 2014. He was 75.
After the siding project is completed, the military annex building will serve as a recognition for veterans for many years to come.
“Bit by bit, it’s coming around,” Schreiner said.
Built in the early 1880s, the building was sold to Grayling Charter Township for use as a township hall in 1883. The township hall was located at Ottawa Street and Ogemaw Street. When the Grayling Middle School, which was the Grayling High School at the time, sought to expand, the township entered into a property trade with the school district. The building was eventually moved to the Grayling City Park and was dedicated in 1974 as the first museum after the Crawford County Historical Society was founded.