The Saginaw County Castle Museum is not only a showcase of Mid-Michigan’s history but also a recorder of it. Jonathan Webb shares the history of this incredible Museum and the history that it has captured.
Castle Museum of Saginaw County Website
Castle Museum Facebook Page
Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the call of leadership podcast. Today. We are joined by the president and CEO of the castle museum of Saginaw County history. His name is Jonathon Webb, Jonathan, how are you today?
Jonathan Webb, Castle Museum: [00:00:13] I’m wonderful, Cliff. Thank you so much for inviting me to be part of this show. I’m really excited and looking forward to talking with you today.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:19] I’m really looking forward to it as well. So tell us a little bit about where you’re from and where you grew up.
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:00:24] Well actually, I, I grew up in Ohio, interestingly enough, but I’ve now been in Michigan for 20 plus years. grew up in a small town of about 10,000 folks in Ohio called Bryan, Ohio. it was named at one time, one of the top 100 small towns in America. So it was really a neat place to grow up and a lot of opportunities there.
and that school and that school system and things like that. I ended up going to bowling green state university in bowling green, Ohio, where I was a business major. And while I was there, I also participated in ROTC. And so I ended up serving three years on active duty in the military during the first Gulf war I was over in Europe.
And, so it had a wonderful opportunity to. Spend three years, my formative life in Europe and that’s where my wife and I got married. She was also, from bowling green. And so then we came back to United States after we finished our tour in Europe in about 1993 or so, and moved to Michigan at that point.
And, initially, yeah, we were entrepreneurs had our own business. And then, I got interested in. Participating in local history and took a job in Frankenmuth as the director of the Franklin with historical museum. And that kind of led to several years ago, me being offered the position as the president CEO at the castle museum of second rock County history.
So that’s kind of in a nutshell, Cliff.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:46] You’ve gone from being in the military to being an entrepreneur, and now having an interest in history. What was your decision or what made you decide to start focusing on local history?
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:01:59] Well, honestly, my parents were both teachers. And so that was kind of when I was growing up, I wanted to be a history teacher is what I is, what I always said. But then. Simultaneous to having that desire. I also realized that at least in those days, my parents didn’t make very much money as teachers. And, so I thought, gee, I’d really rather do a job where I can actually earn a little bit more of a comfortable living.
So, that’s why I looked at becoming a business major and, You know, then studied business at school. And, my wife’s parents were entrepreneurs. So while, while I was in the military, by the way is one of the larger bureaucracies you’ll ever deal with. we would talk to her parents on a regular basis and they were running their own business.
Just the two of them. I would see how, how wonderful and how nice that scene for them to be able to do everything that they wanted to do and make all the decisions on their own and not have to go through a bunch of red tape to do the simplest things as I did. And, so I think that was kind of what guided us towards maybe starting our own business when we got out.
And, so we just ended up doing basically retail and, it was really a great experience. You know, a lot of responsibility. We were literally responsible for everything that happened or failed to happen in that business. And, so, you know, you learn a lot of lessons that way, whenever things rest on your shoulders.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:03:15] Yeah i definitely agree with that one of the things in life is whether you’re running a business that’s for profit or nonprofit hour or anything for that matter you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens under your roof .
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:03:28] Absolutely. We learned about. You know, dealing with employees and, and I’m really, I guess I got that experience in the military to being a, you know, as a, as a platoon leader, you step in there, you’re a brand new Lieutenant. You have the reality of it is you have no idea what you’re doing.
and I, you know, I, as I mentioned earlier, this was during the first Gulf war. My concern was that I was going to get deployed, to the actual theater of operations and have to be responsible for making sure people didn’t die. And, boy, you talk about being nervous because I literally had spent. You know, a very limited amount of time, even on the tanks that we were, that I was going to be responsible for, let alone no, you know, opportunity to spend time, you know, in a real operation.
and here we go, suddenly we’re going to war against Iraq and, you know, it looks like I’m going to get deployed over there. I ended up landing in Germany and quite honestly, they, they made a great decision, which was to take the brand new lieutenants and. And let us train a national guard guys from the United States that were going to be deployed over there.
So I actually never entered that theater of war. And of course it was a fairly short time of conflict anyway. but, you know, you, and you kind of grow up fast when you’re, you know, early twenties and suddenly you’re, you’re contemplating things like being responsible for the lives of. a lot of other people.
And, and then of course, you know, when you arrive there, you’ve got these sergeants that have been in the military for 25 years. And they’re the ones that really know how things operate. You have to be. I don’t know how you say that you have to be in charge of those people and direct them yet. Listen to them at the same time, because they’re the ones that have all the knowledge and the expertise.
And so just learning how to. I think deal with people and be respectful to maybe people that are quite a bit older than me, even though I’m actually the authority figure. again, you learn a lot at a very young age and that transfer quite nicely to our retail business or just to rock, to operating our own business.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:17] And I completely understand your point. I’ve read quite a number of business articles and business books. And it’s interesting to note that there seems to be this large push for companies to understand how the military develops leaders, why they’re so good at it, why they’re so effective. And then they take those experiences and translate them into the business world to help the business to become more successful.
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:05:41] Sure sure. That that totally makes sense. I mean, there’s, there’s, you know, a certain amount of discipline that’s obviously required. there is a, you know, you’re dealing with people of all ages, races, cultures, and yet, that can’t factor into anything that you do. And it’s really all about, just accomplishing the mission.
So it’s a very mission driven type of environment. And I think that’s businesses like to see, there’s people who understand how to not only plan, but then to execute. And I’m talking everything from not just tactically, but from logistically and, you know, That kind of thing. personnel wise, how to plan out a mission and then, and then execute it and then be able to evaluate it after the fact and figure out what you did well and what you didn’t do well.
And so those are all skills that you’re definitely taught in the military.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:06:27] I definitely see that. What I would like to do now is I want to talk to you about the history of the castle museum. Tell us a little bit about when it was founded, what its purpose is. If you would please.
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:06:40] Sure. Well, I’ll start with the building, itself. The, the building was actually originally built in 1898. It’s an absolutely gorgeous structure. I would encourage anyone with internet access, which is most everybody nowadays to, to take a moment and go look at photographs and images of the, of the building online.
it was originally built. as I said, in 1898 and constructed as a federal post office in Saginaw. And, there was a program that the federal government was doing at the time where they were going to construct these unique structures throughout the United States. And the idea was to reflect the.
Culture of the early, well, basically European settler, in the area. And so this one for this particular building, they chose to use a French Chateau as a model, and then they combined some things, some elements of the frontier. So it has four sort of like tourists when it was constructed or I’m sorry.
It actually had three tourists when it was constructed that to represent like a frontier Ford, And then there are little, there statues throughout, along the, roofline kind of, if you can imagine the cathedral with the gargoyles or statutes similar to that, that represent the floor and the phone that would have been found in this area at the time.
So again, a, a very, a, one of a kind, design structure building. and that program was discontinued, shortly after this building was completed. And I don’t know if that was because of. Cost overruns, or I’m not sure what, or maybe just the difficulty of doing, you know, a unique building every time you build a post office versus doing a more of a cookie cutter type of plan.
but what, for whatever reason, we were fortunate enough to get one of the unique ones. And, so it, it functioned as a post office for quite some time up until the 1930s Saginaw when, because of the rapid growth of the city of Saginaw. they began to outgrow the facility. And so then it was remodeled extensively in 19, the mid 1930s.
And to look very much like what it looks like today. So what you’re seeing today, you know, is a building that’s roughly 90 years old, as it looks, and then the exterior is, is more than, as much older than that, even 120 years old. So again, it’s, you know, it’s got, Marble and granite and Oak and, and, just absolutely gorgeous, light fixtures that are from, you know, again, the art deco time period, and then from the twenties and thirties and, just it’s, it’s just gorgeous.
So first of all, even to come and, and work in a place like that on a daily basis is I just, I’m so fortunate to do that. And then to be able to use that vehicle. That building is a vehicle to teach history and share that with the, with the residents of Saginaw County. It’s just really a wonderful opportunity.
as far as the organization goes, the organization started rather small volunteer based as most historical societies do in the sixties. And then when the, when the building was no longer. Usable as a post office and they, and they finally had to build a more modern post office in the 1970s. the structure was then was turned over to the County because otherwise it’s going to be torn down and thank God.
The residents of Saginaw County did not want to see that building torn down. and it was turned over to the, to the County of Saginaw who would then in turn, basically gave it to the historical society to use as a museum. and then that was followed, by about 10 to 15 years of very Spartan existence for the historical society.
again, many mostly volunteers, and any, any, Operational budgets were done by, you know, vigorous fundraising. then finally in 1990, the residents of Saginaw County recognized, I guess you could say the importance of making sure that we. Professionally record and present our history for the future generations and passed a tax millage.
That’s county-wide our museum now. And so that has been in existence since 1990 and has been renewed every 10 years. And we just went through our most recent renewal. here in, in 2020, and one of the few positives you could probably say about the year 2020, at least from our perspective was that, the residents of Saginaw County resoundingly renewed that tax millage, you know, despite the tough economic times that we’re living through.
and it passed by a margin cause it has to go to a vote every time and it passed by a margin of 71%. Yes, it’s a 29% now. So that’s really, I guess. Reassuring to know that. As I said, the re the residents of Saginaw County recognized the importance of, of documenting and presenting our history for future generations.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:11:02] And for those future generations i have to say that a few weeks ago when i was driving around saginaw county no matter where i went without fail i would see a sign in someone’s yard that was saying vote for the castle museum millage. I swear. I must have saw, I don’t know how many signs, maybe a thousand signs. I don’t know when i was driving around so i understand exactly what you’re talking about
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:11:25] Right. Well, and there weren’t a thousand signs out there, but I’m glad it appeared that way. We had some good, strategists on our team, that helped us to figure out, how to make sure that we got the word out properly. And, and I would say really, you know, in this kind of just.
talks to lessons that you learn again, when you’re in a leadership position over time. Right. You know, just making sure that you bring together a team of people cool. And that everybody is pulling in the same direction. And that’s really what we did with this campaign. And it’s honestly, it was a, it was a political campaign and that’s the way it has to be run.
we needed to make sure that we got our message out. to the people in Saginaw County, what we do, this is why we feel that we’re providing a service to you. And this is the, this is what that service is. And we. Hope that you recognize the importance of that. And, and so that’s, you know, we talked from talking to everything, you know, from the, the staff, tons of volunteers, that are involved in our organization, our board of directors, you know, local media people that also felt really strongly about making sure that, you know, the, the residents of Saginaw County got the information, review magazine, Bob Martin, we had radio guys that helped us.
you know, just a lot of different people, but everybody pulling in the same direction and that’s really, really key. And I think when you do that and you know, maybe folks who would have been up in the air or really had no idea and wouldn’t have voted at all, when they see that, man, this, it seems like everybody is behind this.
It must be important. that really, I think was the, was the difference for us. And that’s why we have that resounding victory this time.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:54] And that is great news. What I would like to talk to you about now is, you know, from, and this is something that I consider, uh, and I think about everything that’s happening right now in our world. What we’re experiencing today, tomorrow is going to be history. So what do I mean by that? Well, we take a look at the year 20, 20, right? We have this worldwide pandemic. COVID-19.
We have the black lives matter movement that is occurring right now. We’ve got a presidential election that as soon coming up and a lot of people feel that this is very critical to us as a nation. So my question to you is, is, is that as we’re living through history right now, What do you see as the role of the castle museum as we’re living that history?
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:13:41] Sure. That’s a great question. Well, I think we have a couple of different roles. one is, I think it is our duty to try to, properly record what’s actually happening right now. And that includes. You know, stories, artifacts, things that are things that might seem small and mundane, but are, are a big part of, of everyday life.
For instance. The masks that everyone is wearing. Okay. We’d collected some masks, that will go into our collection, our permanent collection to be a re you know, partially to help us tell that story of this Panda. so, so that’s one of those, the things we can do, which is, which is recording, what is happening right now.
And I, and I actually did a series of interviews with folks, From all different walks of life, you know, about, while this was going on, when it was actually, you’re a little bit newer, like talking April may time, period, you know, we’d just gone into the, basically the shutdown. Where everybody was staying home, I’m staying inside.
I’m only going out when necessary and just talk to them, people about how that was affecting their lives, or, you know, from, from a pastor at a local church to a police officer, to musician that makes us money, you know, playing in bars that are no longer open, to high school seniors to, you know, just.
All different kinds of folks and interviewing them in real time so that we get their perspective of what it was like while it was happening. Cause every time, when you look back on something later, you know, you’re gonna, you’re gonna have that opportunity to reflect on it and maybe be older and be a little wiser.
and you might think of it in a different way. So what I really wanted to do was get that raw story of what it was like right now to be going through this for these different folks. So again, that’s kind of phase one, Which is what’s recording, what’s going on right now? I think the other thing that we do is we’re able to go back and look at things like the pandemic from 1918 and say, what can we learn from that?
Or what should we learn from that? Or what should we have learned from that that could have helped us maybe handle this one better? you know, and the same thing with the, with the black lives matter, You know, what history, what stories do we have that we can share with people, that might make them understand the situation better.
And, so, you know, we, we sort of play a dual role. We’re recording what’s happening now while making sure all presenting what happened in the past so that people can use that information to potentially make a better decision about what we do now. Does that make sense?
Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:02] that makes perfect sense. And I have to say that I’m actually a very big believer in story. So, uh, I think it’s really cool. When you say that your, your focus is to capture the stories you’re interviewing the people that are going through this understanding, what are they thinking? You know, who are they, what are they feeling? What are they worried about?
And you brought up an interesting point when you were starting to speaking about the. Uh, the Spanish flu, there was a documentary on Netflix about this, and it’s just amazing to be able to take that trip back in time, to kind of understand what we as a nation we’re going through. Uh, at that moment, cause back then there wasn’t really like a national concerted effort to try to STEM the Spanish flu. I was kind of like everybody’s on their own. And so we have history to refer back to when they say, you know, this city tried this and this other city tried it this way and they got much better results. So it’s really cool that you’re, you’re learning from history at that point.
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:17:07] Absolutely. And you know, the interesting thing, you know, specifically about what you just said was, you know, what we learned in 1918, we learned that you should wear a mask and that you should socially distance and that you should wash your hands. Isn’t that interesting, pretty much the same way we, we handle it now and as much as technology and all the different things, everything else in our world has changed.
The reality is viruses are pretty tough, little buggers, man, and, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. And that’s, that’s the reality. All you can do is try to mitigate the circumstances and, the, the best way to mitigate the circumstances, according to the experts. And that’s what they found in 1918.
And it still holds true today. Where am I asked, wash your hands and socially distance when possible. So.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:46] Indeed. What I would like to do now is I want to go into our three things segment. Let’s say that somebody is coming to your museum. Maybe they haven’t been there for a while, or maybe this is even their first time going. What would be perhaps three key things that you would recommend that they spend time with whether that might be an exhibit or something along that, but what would those three things be?
Jonathan Webb, Castle Museum: [00:18:12] Okay, well, this is going to be hard because you’re asking a guy who was proud of all the exhibits at his museum. Okay. but I would say number one, take some time to just take in the building. Okay. walk around the exterior and look at the limestone blocks. And the, as I said, the figures that are, you know, along the roof line and the steep pitch slate roof and the tourists.
And I mean, it’s just a beautiful structure, both inside and out, and then take some time and walk through the grand lobby, you know, with it’s again, Oak paneled ceiling and it’s, terrazzo floor and it’s marble walls. And, you know, just before you even start worrying about. Or, or thinking about what exhibits we have and learning about history.
Just take a look at the bill. Okay. That’s that’s number one. number two, I would say, you know, we have some really interesting, permanent. Yeah. What I would describe as permanent exhibits. I’m going to, I’m going to answer this question. I’m going to name three things, but I’m really going to name everything in the museum while I’m naming these three things, if I’m successful.
So then we have these, we have a lot of permanent exists. Okay. and those are ones that I guess we call them permanent. So they’re not. Totally permitted that they will change over time. But for the most part, they’re going to be there anytime you come to the museum. and those include things like we just did a brand new exhibit called our foundations, the origins of Saginaw County.
And that goes all the way back to basically, prehistoric times and on, I mean, so we have items in there that have been recovered in archeological digs. it covers the, the native Americans that lived here, the indigenous folks. So the initial NABI, they call themselves. more commonly known as the Chippewa Ottawa, Ottawa natives.
and we worked very, very closely, interestingly enough, with the closest band, which is the second Chippewa Indians, over in Mount pleasant, Michigan. again, they refer to themselves as the initial NABI. So I prefer to call them that as well. but we, we really knew that, you know, that, that story of, of how the light and, that used to be there’s, The game property, the United States of America is not necessarily an easy story to tell if it’s not told properly.
And I think we have to, that’s one of the things we really have to be conscious of as historians is that there are always multiple sides, you know? And this goes back to your comment about, you know, it’s, it’s about stories where everybody has a story. they can all witness the same event or lift at the same event, but everybody has their own story.
So we have to be really conscious. when we present history that we’re, that we’re thinking about the different sides of the story. So what we did was we, we went over to Mount pleasant and then we asked them for help. And we said, well, you guide us and help us and tell us if we’re, if we’re telling, if we’re, if we’re presenting something that is offensive to you, please tell us because.
We may not see it from that perspective. And they were just so wonderful. And, and helpful. And we did, we opened this, exhibit last year in, 2019, which was the 200th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of Saginaw, which formally gave the property. That is a huge chunk of what is now the state of Michigan, from the native tribes to the U S government.
And so, you know, again, like that’s a ceremony that has a very different meaning, to the folks in Mount pleasant and the additionality than it does to us. And so. We didn’t, we didn’t necessarily celebrate it as much as we commemorated it. And we involve them in all this, all the ceremonies they graciously came over, we did a sunrise pipe ceremony, you know, at the, at the site of the signing of the treaty.
so I mean, that’s just, that’s one exhibit and there’s, there’s so much that went into that so much thought. you know, I just think that’s. it gives you a little bit of a flavor of, of our permanent exhibits. And so in addition to that, just that one, we have permanent exhibits about the lumbering era, which was really the era that built Saginaw, in the, in the surrounding communities, you know, that, that influx of cash and business.
An industry that that was the lumber, era, is extremely important. So we have that. And then we have, a permanent exhibit about the automobile era, coal mining, which coal mining again, is a very obscure part of Saginaw County history, but it’s there. and as I said, the automobile industry, which we all know, you know, most people certainly associate Saginaw Detroit with the automobile industry.
so that’s the sample of some of our, you know, our permanent exhibits. we have the second all County sports hall of fame, which is its own separate entity located within our museum. and that’s a wonderful, Thing that brings in all kinds of different, audience members than we would normally get.
So they might people that might not be interested necessarily in just history, but they love sports and they, and they want to know more about sports scenario can come in and see that. And again, really well done. Wonderful, wonderful addition to our museum. and then we have, temporary exhibits. So, so my three things are going to be the building, our permanent exhibits and our temporary exhibits.
so temporary exhibits, we are ones that we either do on our own with our staff, or they might be traveling exhibits that come in, you know, the travel around the country. So we just had. a traveling exhibit leave last week. That was from the Smithsonian. Of course, everyone knows the Smithsonian and it was called the way we worked.
And it was just talking about. Americans associations and relationships with their job, in the last 150 years, fascinating exhibit, we just packed that up and sent that back to DC. And, this week we have a new traveling exhibit coming in and it’s called spirited and it’s about prohibition in the United States.
And so this is one that we’ve really been looking forward to. We’ve had this book for more than a year, and we got all kinds of grandiose plans to have big parties and do. You know, like a speakeasy and all this fun stuff. And really, we just, we can’t really do anything like that because of the situation with Kobe, but it’s still going to be, it’s going to be there and it’s, and it’s wonderful.
And that’s getting assembled right now. And that opens on September 1st. next, January of 20, 21, we have another Smithsonian exhibit coming and we’re really excited about this one because we are going to be the first museum in the world to host this exhibit. And it’s called play ball from the.
They’re from the Barrios to the big leagues. And it talks about, baseball and its importance to Latino culture. And so this is, again, as I said again, a brand new exhibit from the Smithsonian, they’re really excited about it. We’re excited of course, because we were the first museum in the world to host it.
so I can, all County has, a significant Latino population. so I think it will be really appealing to that group. Well, and so, you know, that’s an idea of some of the temporary exhibits. So depending on when people come, would be, you know, determining what’s, what’s going to be here, but there’s always going to be some kind of temporary exhibits that are available for people to see when they come.
So that’s my three things. The building are permanent exhibits and our temporary exhibits.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:46] How often do you change out your temporary exhibits? Is it once every six months? Is it once a quarter?
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:24:52] Well, it depends. so the ones from that are traveling like from the Smithsonian or this one that we have coming, about prohibition. We have those for a very limited amount of time, usually like 10 weeks or less. Okay. If it’s one that we do in house, which by the way, the Vasper shortly of our temporary exhibits we do in house, which means we’re doing the research, the construction, and oftentimes we’re using artifacts from our own collection for the exhibit.
So those, you know, it kind of depends. We have galleries that we, that we switch every two months, we have galleries where it’s a temporary exhibit. It might be up for six to nine months. it just kind of depends. And we have smaller cases where we might change them every month. And so we’re constantly rotating things through.
So if you come multiple times in a year, to the museum, you’re always going to see something different. in addition to having the opportunity to go back and look at the permanent exhibits, but there’s always going to be several. we probably do anywhere from 12 to 15 temporary exhibits, throughout the museum every single year.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:25:49] That is so cool. How do you decide which exhibits that you’re actually going to P putting up for display?
Jonathan Webb, Castle Museum: [00:25:58] there’s actually several ways that that comes about, sometimes it’s somebody walks in and says, Hey, I’ve got this stuff. and it’s really neat and here’s the story behind him. And so we may do a small exhibit. On that item or item set of items. sometimes it’s based on a date. so as I mentioned, you know, last year was the hundredth anniversary of the signing of, of Saginaw.
Well, even though the ended up being a permanent exhibit, that was kind of the impetus to build that exhibit at that time. we, we had, we had an area of the basement that was not being, or the lowest level of the building that was not being utilized. it was kind of a hallway with an emergency exit and kind of a lobby space and.
So we have, we had space and we had a story that we felt needed to be told, and we had an anniversary of a very, very important, Situation that related to that story. And so those three things together said combined together. And of course we started on that, like in 2018. but those were the things that kind of came together to make that exhibit happen in 2019.
sometimes it’s, availability of an exhibit. So, you know, we’re constantly on the lookout for, you know, what does the Smithsonian have as problem, as far as traveling exhibits go and which ones would pertain to the audience that we feel like we’re serving here in Saginaw County and. So there’s a lot of different ways, things that go into it.
and sometimes there’s just a story that we feel. you know, we sit down as a staff and we kind of bring it up and somebody says, you know, well, what about, what about this building? That’s been there for so long and, and look at all the things that have happened there and it’s, and the importance of it.
And or what about this community? You know, because again, we’re a County wide museum. It’s not just the city of Saginaw, so perhaps something happens in Frankenmuth or, or in Bertram. one of the, one of the new temporary exhibits that we’re gonna, we’re gonna put up here very shortly is about the Franklin with woolen mill that just had a hundred and 50th.
anniversary. And, so, you know, I mean, it just, there’s a lot of things that go into it. and again, in the idea can come to us many different ways. but then we just sit down and talk about it and say, you know, what’s the story that, you know, that we’re trying to tell, then we go and say, what artifacts do we have that we can help illustrate this?
what stories can we relate to people? different things like that. So that’s kind of the way it works.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:28:01] Excellent. And then for people who are coming to the museum and especially right now with everything that’s going on with COVID-19 social distance scene, what are some of the things that people should keep in mind if they’re going to come and visit the museum?
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:28:18] okay. well, we have, the building itself is very large, so, you know, we have, We’re following the same protocols that are, that are required for any other bits in the state of Michigan. we do require people to wear masks when they come into the building we have of, hand sanitizer throughout. We have signs reminding people, you know, the police keep social distance.
and some of the interactive items we have actually taken away, things that people would pick up and handle them and things like that. So we’ve made it as safe as possible. We’ve actually closed off a couple of small areas of the museum where. You know, it’s a narrow hallway and it’s one way in, and it’s, you have to come back out the same way, that way.
It’s, you know, we’re not forcing people to get in very close proximity to someone that might not be part of their group. so it’s, you know, I think we’ve, we’ve made it, accessible as possible. And then actually what we did too, just because we know people are. Some people are struggling a little bit, you know, with, with finances and things like that and, and looking for things to do, differently.
And so we actually have made it free admission all summer long to make sure that anybody that wants to come or anybody that just needs to get out of their house and do something, has a place they can come and learn about, you know, their own local history.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:29:24] That is awesome. I absolutely love that. My final question for you would be there. If somebody wanted to learn more about the museum, follow you online, what would be the best way for them to do that?
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:29:36] Well, we have, you know, of course we have a website which is www.castlemuseum.org, and that’s kind of the, I guess, the backbone of our, you know, informational wise, About the museum and what we have going on and exhibits and things like that. But I would also suggest that, we have several different social media things that we use, including Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook is a great place to see what’s going on on a daily basis. I was telling you about, you know, we have this new exhibit about prohibition called spirited. that’s getting set up. Well, we had the staff members as. Kind of do a, Hey here’s a behind the scenes of what it’s like when a, what, an exhibit gums type of thing.
And so, you know, it starts from them unloading the crates from the semi and, and then you see this massive stack of, you know, huge wooden crates and then. You know, then they recorded a few minutes later as they’re unpacking. And so they’re kind of running these little segments on Facebook. I don’t know, one to two minutes of them, unpacking doing again, what we call a condition report to make sure that everything is as it was when it left the last museum.
and to the actual construction, which literally is. Putting things together, building things, exhibit and assembling them. and then, you know, so eventually it’s a, when it’s a finished exhibit. So if you follow us on Facebook, you can see these little things and watch the exhibit actually get put together.
And then of course you can come down to the museum and visit it yourself. So I would suggest, you know, the website and our social media is the number one. Ways to follow us if you’re not able to actually come right to the museum, but, you know, again, it’s readmission, so you’ve got nothing to lose.
you know, we’re open seven days a week and, you can just come down and take your time and wander through. And some people stay for, for 30 minutes. Some people stay for four hours. It just depends on the individual and what they’re looking for on that particular day and how much they feel like reading.
And, you know, how many questions they want to ask of the staff and things like that. So,
Cliff Duvernois: [00:31:27] it sounds like on your Facebook page, you guys are kind of telling the story behind telling the story.
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:31:33] We are. And, and we, we’ve actually done all kinds of different things with that. So with that Facebook page, and that’s where we, you know, aired all the interviews that I was talking about, that I did back early in the summer. And that’s where, you know, we hear all these or where we show all these different things that we’re doing.
you know, whether it be just a photo. Montage of old buildings and, you know, in the County, or it might be one of the neat things we started doing. Believe it or not, this sounds goofy and hokey, but it’s been so fun is, there was, there was a recipe book that the museum did about, I don’t know, 25 years ago.
And we started pulling recipes from that book. And running one per week. And we had one of our staff members, Deanna actually make whatever it is that the recipe calls for. And then she kind of critiques it a little bit, says, this is what I liked or I didn’t like, but it’s fun because you know, cooking techniques and ingredients and everything are a little different now than well, then what they were even 25 years ago.
And it, and these were actually probably kind of old family recipes, even 25 years ago. And, so then what we do is whoever that person was that, that, that donated yeah. Rusty, which was generally somebody who was. You know, known in the community. we would tell the story of that person. And so we were able to just take something fun, like a recipe and give somebody, you know, a new idea of something to cook on a Sunday, and then tell them a little bit about the person who, who actually provided that recipe or cookbook.
So it’s really just been a fun way to, kind of tie in history with the, with a hobby, if you will, of cooking. So, you know, and, and again, going back to that, Your comment, which I really think of fascinating is, is it, you know, it’s really all about stories, right? And, then I was even thinking, you know, the, the word story is in his story.
And I know people often play on that say, well, you know, it shouldn’t be her story or whatever. it really, you know, the reality of it is it should always be our. Our story. And, because I think, you know, in order to have a good perspective on the world and on, the lives that we live, you have to be able to understand the stories of everybody in your world, not just your own.
And, so, you know, I hope that we can provide that a little bit, perspective for folks to come and see the story that’s behind the, what caused the world that they live in today to be the way it is. So. That’s kind of our goal.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:33:47] That is absolutely awesome. And the links that you mentioned for our listeners, we will make sure to include those links in the show notes down below Jonathan. It’s been great having you on the podcast today. Thank you very, very much.
Jonathan Webb, Saginaw County Castle Museum: [00:34:01] Cliff. It’s been my pleasure. you know, you’re doing a wonderful thing here and I hope folks take the time to listen to your other interviews as well. They’re absolutely fascinating and really appreciate you, giving me the opportunity today and, you know, if there’s ever anything I can do for you, please just let us know.
We’d be glad to help.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:34:16] That’s awesome, Jonathan, thank you very much.
Jonathan Webb, Castle Museum: [00:34:18] All right. Take care of Cliff. Thank you.