Trenton Historical Society, Celebrating Over 150 Years of History
Trenton Museum History

The Early Years

Trenton Museum Sanborn Map The Moore home.  The symbols describe the type of dwelling, and the dashed lines show a frame structure (as with the rear kitchen porch).  The numbers show the number of floors. Summer Kitchen area the side porch was enclosed and converted into an entrance to Emma Boelter's beauty shop in the front parlor Carriage house, still presently standing. Now demolished auto garage, removed in 1955 to make room for Mr.Earl Henegar's future home.  Mr. Henegar ended up purchasing the Moore home. St. Joseph Street Third Street Third Street
The Moore home in the 1922 Sanborn Map® . You can cursor over various areas to gain additional information. (Available with Internet Explorer)
Trenton Museum Outside, 1950's
The Trenton Museum as seen in a 1950's photo.

Early records show that on January 18, 1881, a deed was filed for the purchase of a lot situated at the northwest corner of St. Joseph Avenue and Third Street, in the Village of Trenton.

The purchasers of this property were John Moore, a tavern keeper in the village, and his wife Sarah. At the time, the lot was described as extending four rods west from the corner and north to the present alley, a distance of some twelve rods. 

The exact date of the building of the home has not been determined, but undoubtedly it was completed within the year. The impressive bracketed style house with its gingerbread trim and green shutters, popular to the period, was greatly admired by the townsfolk.

The tall, narrow front doors facing St. Joseph Avenue opened into the front hall with its graceful stairway leading to the upper story. To the right was the front parlor, which of course was reserved just for company and special occasions. The more commonly used family entrance was by way of the narrow side porch facing Third Street. The porch opened directly into the dining room, with the back parlor just to the left. To the right was the kitchen with a pantry for storage of dishes, food and other provisions.

At the extreme rear of this room was the usual summer kitchen. Nearby were the necessary outbuildings, one of which still remains. This shed, then near the street for easy access by the drayman, was used first for wood storage, then for winter’s supply of coal. 

The Moore Family

Henry Moore
Nellis Moore

John and Sarah Moore had four sons: Henry, William, Byron and Burns. After the death of her husband, her sons having grown, Mrs. Moore continued living in the family home. When the Lyman Lilley family need a place to stay until their new home on Front Street (now Riverside Drive) was being completed, she shared her home with them. The Lilley family then included three children: Charles, Beatrice and Lyman Jr. While living there, a fourth child, Marion was born. 

Mrs. Moore sold thirty-three and one-half feet of the northern portion of the lot before leaving Trenton to spend the rest of her days with a sister in Canada where she died on March 16, 1914. Before her death, she had deeded the house to her grandson, Nellis, the son of Burns and Addie, the former Addie Nellis of Wyandotte.

From 1914 until 1919, Mr. Nellis Moore and his wife Mary lived in the lovely old home with their four children: Nellis, Robert, Addie and Betty. In 1916 Mr. Moore modernized by installing electric wiring and plumbing. He combined two small rooms for a bathroom. Previously all the water came from a "penstock" in the back yard. In the summer kitchen was a cistern for rainwater that was fine for washing but not drinking. 

In 1919, the Moore family sold the homestead. They sold the home to Mr. Fred Boelter and his wife Lizetta. Their two elder sons, Frederick and Arthur, remained on the farm on Telegraph neat West Road. Their daughter Harriet had married Elias Burke; their daughter Martha was married to William Homeister. Three other daughters, Emma, Minnie and Dorothy, were still at home. Soon after their move to Trenton, Minne married Arthur Asmus. Dorothy finished her schooling at the Trenton High School, which was just across the street from their new home, and then married Lyman Lilley Jr. Emma remained home with her parents. 

In 1928, Mrs. Emma Boelter converted the front parlor into a beauty shop. By this time, the inner shutters had been removed from the windows. A portion of the side porch was enclosed and converted into an entrance to the shop. To allow privacy to the family, French doors were installed in the huge archway between the front and back parlors. The summer kitchen was removed to another location to be used as the garage. Miss Boelter removed the based burners (coal stoves) and replaced them with gas heaters. She continued to have her beauty shop until her retirement from business in 1957. 

The western portion of the Moore lot was sold to Mr. Earl Henegar in 1955, at which time the garage, formerly the summer kitchen, was demolished to make room for the house he was soon to build. 

In 1964, Mr. Henegar purchased the Moore-Boelter home. After enlarging the very small basement, and installing a gas furnace, he decided the large house would make a good two-family flat. About this time, however the Trenton Historical Commission found itself in dire need of a good place in which to store its few pieces of furniture and its mounting number of articles of historic interest. 

The Trenton Historical Commission

State historical register plaque

The Trenton City Council considered the problem of the Commission. Finally an agreement was reached with Mr. Henegar to use the building. During Michigan Week, in May 1965, the Trenton Historical Museum came into being, marked by a public ribbon-cutting ceremony. At that time, Mr. Robert E. Teifer was Trenton’s mayor. Members of the Council were Clifford Cook, Clarence Hanlon, James Mihaloff, Audrey Seay, Clifford Turner and Robert Wright. 

Later the same year, more difficulties were encountered when the Peoples Bank felt the need for more parking space for the employees of their enlarged banking facilities. Along with other properties in the area, the bank purchased the Moore-Boelter property from Mr. Henegar. The museum faced demolition. The problem was resolved by the directors of the People Bank agreeing to sell the building and immediate grounds to the City of Trenton for continued use as the Trenton Historical Museum. 

The present Trenton Museum Sign
The present day Museum Sign, erected in 1988.

After the City of Trenton acquired the Moore-Boelter home, improvements consisted of roof replacements, electrical upgrades, plaster repairs, repainting, and similar cosmetic upkeep. A chimney at the junction of the two story and single story, and a chimney on the north portion of the single story were eliminated to install roofing (1966). A wood picket fen was installed in 1967 and replaced with the current iron fence in 1987. Also in 1987, a major restoration effort took place. Wood siding and trim was replaced in many areas and the original paint color was put back in place. Special cutters were made to make new crown molding for the fascia to match the original, since the shape of the original molding was no longer available. The windows received partial restoration and the front doors were stripped to bare wood and received a clear finish. A $12,000 State Grant assisted in the restoration. 

In 1988, the identification sign was installed. In 1992, an approach was paved with original paving bricks from the West Road Overpass. New basement column supports were installed in 1996 to level the sagging floors. 


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