Not only are the Sturgis Historical Museum’s exhibits unique to our area, they meld rich history and contemporary technology to create an experience like no other. As we gather and restore items, we change exhibits to continually grow and make each experience at the depot better than the last.

Map of the Sturgis Historical Museum at the Depot in Sturgis, MI

Our Native American Heritage

Native American tribes influenced the culture and settlement of Southwest Michigan and the Sturgis Prairie. Using the touch screen, you can explore interesting facts about the tribes and their way of life. Among the Native American artifacts are authentic handmade baskets, a gambling game, a beaded charm bag and a ceremonial belt, a reed baby carrier and a holographic arrowhead.

Native American Heritage

How Our Town Began

The ornately framed photo of Judge John Sturgis is sure to catch your eye, especially when he begins to move, blinks and slowly turns to tell you the story of his family’s move to this area. On the tablet, you can see the actual photo of the Judge and some of his descendants. Notice the changing seasons out the Judge’s window.

How Our Town Began

The Civil War

Moonlight filters through a life-like bur oak tree revealing smoke from the 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment soldiers’ campsite. Then an image of Colonel William Stoughton appears as he describes the three major battles the heroic 11th Regiment fought for a noble cause.

Civil War Exhibit at the Sturgis Historical Museum in Sturgis, Michigan

Our Town Begins to Grow

By touching numbers on the 1881 Sturgis map that correspond with significant buildings in town at that time, you will see close-up images and descriptions of 19th century Sturgis.

The Station Agent’s Office

The station agent’s office has been restored to reflect the original content necessary for a well-functioning station. You can touch the interactive screen for descriptions of the artifacts displayed and send a Morse Code message on the telegraph. Look to your right, Mac, the Station Agent, will appear in the station’s mirror. Listen as Mac describes his duties, and he will also let you know about the incoming train; just watch out the windows as it arrives and departs.

The Station Agent's Office at the Sturgis Depot

Model Train

Look up — An elevated track with a Model “O” size New York Central train circles the museum about every four minutes.

The War Years

Uniforms, newspaper articles, letters home, activities on the home front and other historical memorabilia highlight Sturgis men and women who answered the call to serve. A touch screen offers photos and biographies honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our country. This display highlights the wars from the Civil War to the present on a rotating basis. Browse binders from each war for short biographies of Sturgis veterans who came home.

The War Years in Sturgis, Michigan

Our Industrious City

How did the farming town of Sturgis Prairie, founded in 1828, become an industrial city by 1900? Location, railroads, ingenuity and ambition of the many entrepreneurs and village leaders who lured others by offering $4,000 to any manufacturing company willing to establish in Sturgis and employ 100 or more workers. This exhibit highlights those factories and businesses, and companies manufacturing today.

The Electric City Theater

In honor of Sturgis The Electric City, Edison-style light bulbs illuminate this 20th century hall. The Sturgis hydro dam fills the wall-to-wall screen and showings of Windows to Our Past films.

The Electric Theater in Sturgis, Michigan

The History Tree

A large bur oak tree, dating from the 1730s, stood at the corner of U.S. 12 and White School Road and was believed to be one of the oldest trees in St. Joseph County. In 2007, when a strong storm toppled the tree, Pat Arseneau, a local master woodworker, salvaged a cross section of the widest part of the trunk to display in our museum.

The History Tree at the Sturgis Historical Museum

City Services Through the Years

Sturgis city services are highlighted through pictures and displays of our police, fire, hospital, schools and more.

Sturgis, Michigan City Services

Our Religious Heritage

A large, stained-glass window near a vintage pump organ is more than just glass. By touching one of the panes, a historical synopsis of a local congregation appears, providing a way to explore the religious heritage of our city.

Religious Heritage in Sturgis, Michigan

Would You Like to Learn More?

We’re here to serve the Sturgis Community and beyond. Feel free to give us a call at (269) 503-7440 or visit our contact page for more information.