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Pandemic puts strain on Meridian Historical Village

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP (AP) — Every year thousands of school children visit the collection of century-old buildings at the Meridian Historical Village.

The student tours of the Okemos property’s farmhouse and general store and lessons inside its one-room schoolhouse help Friends of Historic Meridian, the nonprofit that maintains the village, fulfill its mission: to create and sustain an active appreciation of history.

They also account for 90% of the village’s revenue. The money is used to help maintain the property’s seven aging buildings and its chapel, all located off Marsh Road in Meridian Township’s Central Park.

In the last year, amid a global pandemic, school visits to the village have ground to a halt. So have many of the building rentals and weddings hosted at the village chapel, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Since March 2020, the village has lost two-thirds of its annual revenue, said Brad Brogan, president of Friends of Historic Meridian.

While some cultural institutions could hope to wait out the financial strain posed by COVID-19, Meridian Historical Village’s aging buildings pose maintenance issues that can’t be ignored, according to Brogan.

“These structures were placed in our care and they’re obviously getting on in years,” Brogan said. “We’re reaching a precipice where we’ve got to do the maintenance.”

A historic collection of buildings

Meridian Historical Village was established in the 1970s, but most of its buildings are more than a century old.

The first to be relocated there, the Grettenberger Farmhouse, dates back to the 1860s.

Among the village’s other treasures are the first frame house ever constructed in Okemos, a one-room schoolhouse plucked from Conway Township, a barn, a two-story brick house that now serves as a general store and gift shop, a tollgate house, and a log cabin.

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