New Civil War Exhibit Up and Running

Well, now that the grand opening of the new exhibit is past us, please visit the Dearborn Historical Museum over the next 3 months to enjoy the visuals and learn about those that served from this area. The exhibit will be open Tuesday – Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. In the meantime, please watch this brief video highlighting just a few of the things you will see and learn about when you tour Dearborn in the Civil War. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Volunteer Profile: John Polzin

          When running any type of business, there are often people whose efforts go unnoticed, but are appreciated nonetheless. As a volunteer at the Dearborn Historical Museum for a year, John Polzin has been handling many of these kinds of tasks.

            Whether it’s cleaning, handy-work, or just being good company, John is always eager to help with anything the museum needs.

            After retiring just over two years ago, John and his wife were looking for local events to attend with their new found free time. When they heard about a presentation at the Dearborn Historical Museum, they attended and he was hooked.

            “The types of presentations offered were so diverse and different”, John said.

            Eventually, when the museum’s budget was cut, John decided to volunteer. He wanted to do whatever he could to help out. An added bonus is that John, not from Dearborn originally, gets to learn about the history of Dearborn.

            While supporting his goal of life-long learning, he has also been able to work with “one of the greatest groups of people”.

            “The interaction with the staff and volunteers is wonderful. Everyone is so helpful and you learn something new every day” John explains.

            Many of the volunteers and employees have been involved with the museum for over thirty years and love to share their knowledge with anyone willing to learn.

            John now also helps to give tours at the Commandant’s Quarters and McFadden-Ross House. He says that his absolute favorite part of his experience is the rich history of the local community.

            “There are people out there just like me that didn’t know what available over here. There is so much history available.”

            With the changes in the museum within the past few years, John has high hopes for the future.

            “With enough volunteers, getting the houses open more often and getting more exposure [is most important]”.

            John, just like the rest of the volunteers are all here for the same reason—to make the museum better.

            Keep a lookout for John and the other volunteers are the Dearborn Historical Museum Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm. 


A New Exhibit: Dearborn in The Civil War

Coming April 5th, 2014

Make plans now to attend the grand opening of the next exhibit at the Dearborn Historical Museum. To celebrate the sesquicentennial of 1864, the DHM is joining forces with the Sons of Union Veterans to tell the story of what was happening locally at the Detroit Arsenal at Dearbornville in the context of the larger conflict. The stories of local residents who fought will be told through stimulating visual and 3-D materials. There will be displays at both the McFadden-Ross House and the Commandant’s Quarters. The Sons of Union Veterans will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. The festivities begin on April 5th at 1:00 p.m. If you have questions, please call the DHM office at 313-565-3000.

Arsenal Interest

The Detroit Arsenal at Dearbornville in 1864. The entrance would, today, be in the middle of Monroe just north of Michigan Avenue.

A Hidden Gem: The Dearborn Historical Museum

There is a dedicated group of people working hard to keep local history alive. Our goal is to provide quality programming that enhances the lives of our visitors and encourages an appreciation for the foundations of this rich historical area. For your next outing, please consider the Dearborn Historical Museum. Check out our events page and then watch the following short video. We look forward to seeing you soon. Thank you for supporting local history.

Enjoy New Walking Tour of Historic West Dearborn

Here is a Walking Tour of West Dearborn for any and all to enjoy. We are posting the map and the text in pdf form, all you have to do is click below. The tour has been divided up into 3 separate walks or if you are feeling energized on the day you go, feel free to walk all 3 on the same day. Even though the weather is not conducive to a walking tour right now, better days are ahead and we hope this brings pleasant thoughts for the day you can explore the rich history of Dearborn. Please stop in at the Museum and say hello when you come. Thank you for supporting local history.

West Dearborn Walking Tour Map 332014

Walking Tour Text West Dearborn

Volunteer Uses Special Skills to Help Museum

On a typical weekday at the museum you’ll encounter a number of things. Marguerite operating the front desk, countless volunteers coming and going, exhibits being laid out. Yet if you take the time to head down to our basement you’ll most likely find Walt Scaramucci working on one of our countless horse or farm life pieces. We have been lucky enough to have Walt volunteering with us for the last several months and he brings with him a knowledge of farming and horse equipment that our staff was sorely lacking.

He has tackled a variety of projects since starting with us. Starting with cleaning, conditioning and organizing work harnesses and horse collars, he has also performed cleaning and repair work on one of our horse-drawn sleighs and our surrey. A few weeks ago he even showed up with his arm in a sling, ready to help out after spraining his shoulder.  Recently, he showed up to the museum with his horse and hooked up the sleigh he had performed restoration work on. He then went for a ride around the museum grounds.


Walt always seems to have a project on his hands, so I was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with him (in a Surrey he helped repair), to have a chat with him about his time with us at the museum.

Why did you volunteer at the Dearborn Historical Museum?

I wanted to get involved and contribute something to the community and I figured this would be a good place to start. I actually applied first to another institution and they gave me a bunch of forms and it didn’t look like anything I would really be interested in, so then I tried here next.

How did you hear about the museum?

Well I have lived around here and I have seen it many time. You know what really peaked my interest? That clay wagon (in front of the McFadden Ross House) that has been deteriorating for the last 20 years, I have watched it slowly fall apart. There is hardly anything left of it.  I said, “you know, somebody should do something about that.” So I figured that one way or another I might be involved in fixing it. And low and behold it might be our next project.

When I went to the office to apply for volunteering, they said “well you could be a greeter and show people through the museum, or we have a bunch of old harnesses and stuff like that that needs some work and I said “I think I am your man for that.” So that’s how I got started.

What has been your favorite project thus far?

I think it has been fixing up a small hand-made horse and stagecoach model.

How long have you lived in Dearborn?

Since 1955, actually since 1954. We first lived with my aunt in west Dearborn when we first came from Italy. My mom and I, my dad had already been here a year and then we moved to a rental house in east Dearborn. In 1957, my dad bought a house on Ternes Street just north of Hemlock and after I was married I moved out here to west Dearborn.

What part of Italy did you and your family come from?

About 90 miles or so North of Rome up in the mountains. We had a small farm and my dad was a wood cutter. We’d go up into the forests after the lumber companies had taken the biggest part of the trees, the big trunks and they leave all the branches and small stuff. He’d go over there, cut and load them up onto the mules and bring them down, load the wagons and sell them in town.

When did you becoming interested in working with horses?

Well I grew up with mules in Italy, so over here I didn’t have a chance because I lived in the city. But I loved watching all the westerns on television because they had all the horses, they were otherwise known as horse operas. I grew up watching Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger and Gene Autry. I wanted to be a cowboy.

When did you get the chance to have horses and ride?

I used to ride at these riding stables every chance I got when I was in high school. And then I went to college at Michigan State and I bought my the first horse of my own, Rocky.

Some people save up for a car, you saved up for a horse?

Yeah I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have anything. I had three jobs, I was working for the grounds department at the university and at the dairy barn and sometimes I would work for this restaurant part time. The money I made went to rent, books and keeping my horse. And eventually I got an old beat up Volkswagen. I called him Royce, because he had been rolled so he was my rolled Royce. So that was my getting around transportation

What do you think the museum should strive for?

Well you have all these beautiful buggies and cutters that are just in storage, it would be nice if we could convert that storage space on the other side there, to have some kind of display area to at least show these off, I think that would be nice.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yeah, I really enjoy working with the other volunteers and I have learned a lot from them. We share the workload and get involved in different projects. It is really enjoyable sharing knowledge and working together with them. You constantly learn new things.

Thank you Walt for all you have done for the museum.

Walt_Image_1Walt gives DHM Office Manager Marguerite Baumgardner a ride.