Take a Tour of our Main Museum Site!
BASEMENT - not just a man cave!
We are very fortunate to have an original booth from the Gardens restaurant, which was an icon of Walnut for nearly 5 decades.
Begun by Elmer and Meta Lehnhardt in 1940 as a sandwich shop, it was turned into a steak house in the late 40s by son Russ Lehnhardt and his wife Lucy. The story goes that the local fire department needed a place to eat in the evenings without leaving town and leaving the town uncovered by fire protection. Russ bought a small grill and did his best to accommodate the request, and the rest is history. The Gardens went on to achieve national recognition as a traveler's must-visit location.
Lauren Weir, DDS
Dr. Weir, who was our dentist in town for several decades, donated his equipment to the museum including his fairly new xray machine.
Many of us sat in this chair over the years, in the old Exchange Bank building where Dr. Weir practiced (and some can still recall "that smell").
Farm and Home
We have a robust collection of artifacts related to the farm and the farmer. Items of interest include ice saws, a side saddle, a chicken delouser, an ancient plow, a horse hat, an antique corn stalk, and many interesting tools.
The platform scale from the Jacobsen Brothers elevator is fully intact.
Tools were donated from Edwin Drake's estate, son of Walnut founder ZD Drake.
The Famous Carstensen Harrow
Peter and Ingwar Carstensen were brothers who helped found our town. They were blacksmiths who had an idea for a better harrow, and succeeded in obtaining patents in 1886. They manufactured this harrow for many years in Walnut, and this display shows one of their harrows and all the information involved in the patent.
Walnut Telephone Company
Our local telephone company lasted from 1915 to 2016, and included many innovative improvements over the years often ahead of some larger exchanges.
Jim Hansen has refurbished many of these older phone models in our display, and wrote a comprehensive history of the company for the Walnut Genealogy Society, which is included in a bound volume in our display.
Grandma's Kitchen and Home
This display includes donated items from days gone bye which are related to kitchen and home.
This large, interesting collection includes many curiosities (some of which must be guessed at) and illustrates how far indeed we have come to make life easier to manage at home. Items include:
- Sad Irons
-Glass rolling pin
- Cherry pitter
-Folding bench wringer/washboard
-Skillets, coffee pots, pans
-Wireless carpet sweepers
-Carpet stretcher and beater
We have in our collection a Buffalo Forge #651, equipped with Silent Blower #200. This set up would have been used at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century by blacksmiths and harriers. The blower still works like new to this day, and could have a fire heated up to 3,000 degrees (F) in no time.
The display also includes a post vise, and anvil, along with an assortment of blacksmith tools.
The donor for these items is unknown, but we consulted with Tim Branan of Walnut to learn more about them.
AJ Hansen, Inventor
August Hansen was a man with extraordinary skills for figuring stuff out. He operated an automobile garage / service station in Walnut for several decades. His mark is left on the town today - the entrance pillars at Veterans Memorial Park that he designed and built still stand (although the iron archway was taken down in 1971, the victim of too many tall buses).
This push mower was designed and built by Hansen, who also built a riding mower in 1952. He didn't seek patents for these, but in his younger days did receive patents for a road grader and a hay loader.
We have a small collection of artifacts and images related to the automobile, including the actual trunk lid of Vernon Paasch's car in 1964 when he painted a message to the Surgeon General on the back of it. This was shortly after the government spelled out the dangers of smoking. Paasch's ploy made it into the pages of Readers' Digest!
We have carved out an area to display information and artifacts about Walnut's neighbors to the south in Lincoln Township.
This voting booth was the original used for township elections, and includes the sealant wax stubs used for sealing one's ballot. Lincoln, without a town settlement, has usually matched the town of Walnut and Layton Township in terms of population over the years, and most of her citizens were considered within Walnut's school district.
Other Basement Items