BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A Victorian-era doctor’s house -turned-museum is keeping the history and spirit of Battle Creek alive for all to see.

Built in 1886, the Kimball House was home to three generations of Dr. Arthur Kimball. When the last Dr. Arthur Kimball died in 1966, the family donated the house to the Junior League of Battle Creek and the Battle Creek Historical Society.

“The home has a lot of original features. The family did not believe in updating things or changing them if they were still functional,” Bill White, past president of the Battle Creek Historical Society, said.

That includes the dining room’s parquet flooring, the chandeliers that were both gas and electric and the original bathtub made out of zinc, to name a few.

On the first level, visitors are transported back to when the Kimball family lived in the home. The living room, dining room and kitchen are decorated to match the era.

“We have the old wood cook stove (and) the actual icebox where you used a giant chunk of ice to keep things cool,” White said.

In the doctor’s study, guests can learn about Dr. Kimball’s work.

A Victorian-era doctor’s house turned museum is keeping the history and spirit of Battle Creek alive for all to see. (Courtesy of Bill White)

“The neater things are similar to an ultrasound machine and suction machine. Both of those are from the 1920s… (Kellogg Community College) students were clever enough to restore them and actually get them running again for us,” White said.

There is an exhibit telling the story of Battle Creek resident, abolitionist and civil rights activist Sojourner Truth.

“That has a copy of Sojourner’s only known signature,” White said. “…We (also) have a dress that was, although we’ve never confirmed, but the story is that it was donated to Sojourner Truth by Queen Victoria.”

Upstairs, visitors can explore the living areas of the Kimball family.

“Between (the first bedroom) and the next bedroom is a little door that’s in between the closets. That was called a discretion door where the husband and wife in Victorian times would have had separate bedrooms but they could still visit each other,” White explained.

Guests can also walk through the children’s room, the maid’s quarters as well as exhibits on the sanitarium and cereal capital.

“One of my favorite things is we have a 4-foot-tall hourglass that was turned over at the beginning of each Kellogg tour, back when they were doing tours. Of course, it was filled with Kellogg’s cornflakes. Originally it lasted about 60 minutes but over the years, every time it was turned over, those cornflakes crumbled up more and more. Now it’s about 42 minutes long,” White chucked.

In the basement, the museum highlights the underground railroad, a general store and a log cabin.

For the last five years, the museum collaborates with a Kellogg Community College history class that creates an exhibit.

“Previously they’ve done ones on different aspects of local history. Their most recent one was on the 1920s with the speakeasy, and we even had a speakeasy door installed. Right now they’re working on the late ’30s and what we knew about the Holocaust just prior to World War II and into the early part of World War II,” White said.

In addition to the Kimball House, the historical society has an archive space. For more information, click here.

The Kimball House is open April through December on the first and third Sunday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are also available. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

On Dec. 10 and 11, the museum will be offering free admission as a thank you to the community. The event will be Christmas themed with treats and a big red sleigh.

“You can have your photo taken in the sleigh. Which makes for a perfect Christmas card, especially if we do happen to have snow,” White said.

For more information on the Kimball House, visit the museum’s website.

*Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series exploring small community museums around West Michigan. More articles will be published on in the coming weeks.