Historical Society of Battle Creek

Kimball House Museum

             
 
Built in 1886 by Dr. Arthur Herbert Kimball.  This house is located at 196 Capital Ave., NE, Battle Creek, MI  49017.  Open to the public from 1:00 to 4:00 on the first and third Sunday, April to December, by appointment, or for special events.  It was occupied by three generations of Kimball physicians. The descendants donated their family home to the city, to be used as a community museum.
 
In November 1966, the Junior League of Battle Creek accepted title to the Kimball House "on behalf of the community." They spent the next two years and approximately $17,000 transforming the family home into a community museum and historic home exhibit. Fortunately, in the 80 years since its construction, there had been very few structural changes to the fabric of the building. The woodwork was intact and unpainted, most of the original lighting fixtures remained, and the room arrangement had not been altered. However the mechanical systems of the house had to be updated. The heating system and the hot water radiators were replaced with electric heat. Heating elements were installed in the ceiling of the first floor to minimize changes in the appearance of the rooms. The wiring and plumbing were updated and a new half-bath was installed on the main floor. The red, commercial grade carpeting was laid in all the rooms, except in the dining room which had an original parquet floor, to handle the heavy foot traffic anticipated in the museum. New wallpaper was hung in the downstairs rooms, using designs typical of the period. The downstairs bathroom and kitchen were painted, as they had been originally. New steel beams were added to the living room ceiling and in the basement to strengthen the structure.
 
The Kimball House Museum was officially opened to the public in June 1969. Although the Junior League retained ownership until 1974, the daily operations were turned over to the Kimball House Historical Society, later named the Historical Society of Battle Creek in 1974. The Kimball House today is furnished to interpret upper middle class lifestyle in the late Victorian period in the American Midwest, from 1886 to the beginning of the first World War.  In addition to offering a glimpse into daily family life during the Victorian era, the Kimball House museum houses a major collection of artifacts and archival material relating to Sojourner Truth, who lived in Battle Creek from 1857 until her death in 1883. A second floor exhibit room features a rotating display.
 
Throughout the year the museum is alive with special events and programs, including family programs during the Halloween and Christmas seasons as well as the Strawberry Festival in late Summer. Groups may make special appointments for tours.