The Empire Area Museum was dedicated in June 1987, and is fashioned after the original Roen Saloon, a prominent fixture in Empire during the lumbering days. The Museum features the original bar in the Roen Saloon, a Victorian parlor, turn-of-century kitchen, artifacts from Norway Town, a blacksmith shop, barn display, railroad exhibit, a covered wagon, and much more.
Behind the museum is an original one-room schoolhouse, complete with water pump and outhouse. this building also serves as our audio-visual center. The Billy Beeman Barn (full of horse drawn equipment) was added in 1990.
The first museum was established in 1976, in an old village building known as the Hose House, home of the Empire Fire Department. It was built in 1911 at a cost of $582.53. That building is also part of the Museum Center.
Helen Witt Collection -- This fantastic collection of decorated eggs are part of the more than 6,000 eggs decorated and sold by Helen Witt between 1970 and 1995.
Bill, her husband, did all the cutting and hinge installation and Helen did the rest. Much of this work was done while living in Empire from 1971 thru 1979 owning “WITT’S END (Tiffanys today).
Enjoy the fantastic detail and beauty of each egg. Eggs used are: pullet, chicken, turkey, double yoked turkey, ostrich and emu. Bill Witt 1915-1997, Helen Nessen Witt 1919-2005, collection on loan from their son Bill and Sharon Witt.
Ted Pelky’s Model School Bus Collection -- Ted started drawing busses at age 5 and building them at age 10. He works off school bus brochures and photographs.
Ted was born in 1957 in Traverse City and spent much of his time in later years in Empire, visiting here each summer from 1983 through 1998. He built an estimated 130 busses while in Empire visiting his family. After the busses would get old, he would select a few each year and have his Dad burn them keeping the wheels for the next project. Each bus took about 20 hours to complete. They are made out of poster board and some plastic trim and plastic wheels.
He donated most of his remaining Empire collection (23 of 29 busses) to the Empire Museum in February of 2013. He now lives in Brunswick, Georgia and continues to make busses to this day. The new busses have a model airplane type finish that, Ted says, make them appear more realistic than his earlier models.
Check out the other exhibits we have in the EAM complex. These links will take you to pages that will give you a small taste of what we have--and we hope that you might want to come experience all we have in person!