BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A 13-acre village in Battle Creek tells the story of a global church that was founded in the area.
Opened in the 1990s, the Historic Adventist Village shares and preserves the beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“The main home that most Seventh-day Adventists come to see is the (home of) James and Ellen White, who are two of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Don Scherencel, director of the Historic Adventist Village, said.
The home was built in 1856 and was where all six family members lived. It was also where Ellen White wrote Spiritual Gifts Vol. 1, the first edition of The Great Controversy following a vision received in 1858, the village’s website said.
“We also have a replica of the 1855 publishing department that the Seventh-day Adventist Church started here in Battle Creek,” Scherencel said. “At one time, it was the largest publishing association in the state of Michigan.”
In the late 1800s, he explained, the west end of Battle Creek was referred to as Advent Town because most of the residents were Seventh-day Adventists.
Another house in the village, the William J. Hardy Exhibit, shares the history of Black Adventists Pioneers in the area.
“Actually, the lady that lived in the house came north on the Underground Railroad,” Scherencel said. “She was 2 years old and came here in her dad’s arms.”
The Battle Creek Historical Society donated a restored one-room schoolhouse to the village. This is where visitors will learn about Adventist Education which began in the 1870s.
“(The school) started 150 years ago here in Battle Creek and actually it started on the upper floor of the publishing house,” Scherencel said.
The first class consisted of 12 students and has grown to be the largest colloquial system in the world with over 1.3 million students in 235 countries, he said.
On the property, there is a church that was originally located in Parkville. This was the first church to be legally organized and dedicated after the name Seventh-day Adventist was chosen.
“Quite often we have churches from around the world that come hold church services in that building because it was the first one,” the village president said.
There’s also a log cabin on the property.
“There we tell the story of (door-to-door salesman) David Hewitt. They considered him the most honest man in Battle Creek,” Scherencel said. “…If he should make a mistake of just a penny, he would stop, go back and make it right.”
Hewitt was the first Seventh-day Adventist in Battle Creek and gave the church the name.
At the log cabin, children can do chores that would have been completed by its early residents.
“They might have to go carry water with buckets, they might have to wash diapers, they might have to get corn off the cob and then grind it up, so kids really love the log cabin,” Scherencel said.
He added that his wife made costumes for the children to wear while visiting the village.
The village is home to another replica: the Second Meeting House, originally built in 1857.
“In the original building was where the name Seventh-day Adventist was chosen. It was also where the church was organized in 1863,” Scherencel said.
The village is open Sunday through Friday from November to March from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. with tours happening at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A Saturday tour is at 2 p.m. From April to October, the village is open Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tours happening at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The village is open on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pre-registration for tours is recommended.
On Dec. 3, the village is holding its annual Christmas Stroll at 6 p.m. sharp and ends around 9 p.m.
“We have docents in five different buildings, and we split the group into five different groups, then they go from house to house to hear feel-good Christmas stories,” Scherencel said, adding that there’s usually a bonfire, hot chocolate and cookies.
For more information on the village, click here.
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series exploring small community museums around West Michigan. More articles will be published on woodtv.com in the coming weeks.
Correction: A previous version of this article listed the incorrect date for the Christmas Stroll. We regret this error which has been corrected.