Oakland History Center

Oakland History Center Where History Happens! Focused on the two centuries of fascinating stories from Oakland County, Michigan. At Pine Grove National Historic Site.

Run by Oakland County’s Historical Society. The Oakland History Center is located at Pine Grove, the former estate of Michigan Governor Moses Wisner, in historic Pontiac. Our county is celebrating their bicentennial 200th year and we are located in the county seat. Today, Pine Grove consists of five acres of land, the Wisner mansion and several out-buildings, including a summer kitchen, outhouse,

Run by Oakland County’s Historical Society. The Oakland History Center is located at Pine Grove, the former estate of Michigan Governor Moses Wisner, in historic Pontiac. Our county is celebrating their bicentennial 200th year and we are located in the county seat. Today, Pine Grove consists of five acres of land, the Wisner mansion and several out-buildings, including a summer kitchen, outhouse,

Operating as usual

The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial Group is honoring West Bloomfield resident Guy Stern, Ph.D., next month. “Nearing 100 ...
09/18/2021

The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial Group is honoring West Bloomfield resident Guy Stern, Ph.D., next month. “Nearing 100 years old, Stern is a WWII veteran and member of the Ritchie Boys.

“The Ritchie Boys were a highly trained US Army military intelligence and counter-intelligence group made up of German speaking soldiers. Many were Jewish refugees. The group is known to have collected the majority of combat intelligence on the Western front. For many, the mission to defeat the N***s was personal: many had lost family members in the concentration camps.

“Following the war, Stern has dedicated his life to educating others. He received a Ph.D. in German Literature and taught at many universities.” — The Oakland Press

Photo in the Oakland Press, courtesy of Judy Maten.

The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial Group is honoring West Bloomfield resident Guy Stern, Ph.D., next month. “Nearing 100 years old, Stern is a WWII veteran and member of the Ritchie Boys.

“The Ritchie Boys were a highly trained US Army military intelligence and counter-intelligence group made up of German speaking soldiers. Many were Jewish refugees. The group is known to have collected the majority of combat intelligence on the Western front. For many, the mission to defeat the N***s was personal: many had lost family members in the concentration camps.

“Following the war, Stern has dedicated his life to educating others. He received a Ph.D. in German Literature and taught at many universities.” — The Oakland Press

Photo in the Oakland Press, courtesy of Judy Maten.

Downtown Ferndale, Michigan in southern Oakland County, circa 1950s. This view is of Nine Mile Road, looking toward Wood...
09/17/2021

Downtown Ferndale, Michigan in southern Oakland County, circa 1950s. This view is of Nine Mile Road, looking toward Woodward Avenue.

Downtown Ferndale, Michigan in southern Oakland County, circa 1950s. This view is of Nine Mile Road, looking toward Woodward Avenue.

An ostrich and it’s trainer, circa 1928, at the Detroit Zoo (located in the OC). Detroit News Collection, Walter P. Reut...
09/17/2021

An ostrich and it’s trainer, circa 1928, at the Detroit Zoo (located in the OC). Detroit News Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.

An ostrich and it’s trainer, circa 1928, at the Detroit Zoo (located in the OC). Detroit News Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.

What about this map of Pontiac from 1900 most catches your interest and attention?
09/16/2021

What about this map of Pontiac from 1900 most catches your interest and attention?

What about this map of Pontiac from 1900 most catches your interest and attention?

On this date 120 years ago, President William McKinley succumbs to injuries sustained by an assassin’s bullet. His assas...
09/14/2021

On this date 120 years ago, President William McKinley succumbs to injuries sustained by an assassin’s bullet. His assassin Leon Czolgosz was a Michigan native — but not from Oakland County!

“Three of the four Russell brothers, who starred at Pontiac Central, played in the NBA. After a Hall of Fame college car...
09/14/2021
Sons remember Frank Russell as a giant of Pontiac community

“Three of the four Russell brothers, who starred at Pontiac Central, played in the NBA. After a Hall of Fame college career at the University of Detroit-Mercy, Frank played for the Chicago Bulls during the 1972-73 campaign.”

Frank Russell, the oldest of the balling Russell brothers of Pontiac, died last week of pneumonia at age 72.

Today is the day! Be there.
09/12/2021

Today is the day! Be there.

Today is the day! Be there.

9-11-2001: Twenty years later, we solemnly remember.
09/11/2021

9-11-2001: Twenty years later, we solemnly remember.

9-11-2001: Twenty years later, we solemnly remember.

Throwback to May 1960, when the Kresge Foundation announced a bequest for the new library at MSU-Oakland (present-day Oa...
09/09/2021

Throwback to May 1960, when the Kresge Foundation announced a bequest for the new library at MSU-Oakland (present-day Oakland University).

Throwback to May 1960, when the Kresge Foundation announced a bequest for the new library at MSU-Oakland (present-day Oakland University).

Advertisement from a 1959 newspaper that just made it’s way into our History Center. Who remembers Simoniz?
09/07/2021

Advertisement from a 1959 newspaper that just made it’s way into our History Center. Who remembers Simoniz?

Advertisement from a 1959 newspaper that just made it’s way into our History Center. Who remembers Simoniz?

Postcards from the Past: This particular vintage postcard is something else. “I may be a peach, but please don’t bite me...
09/04/2021

Postcards from the Past: This particular vintage postcard is something else. “I may be a peach, but please don’t bite me.” 🍑

Postcards from the Past: This particular vintage postcard is something else. “I may be a peach, but please don’t bite me.” 🍑

On September 3, 1900, Charles Wisner debuted the first car ever made in Flint. The son of former Michigan Governor Moses...
09/03/2021

On September 3, 1900, Charles Wisner debuted the first car ever made in Flint. The son of former Michigan Governor Moses Wisner, Charles was a fascinating and talented man who grew up right here at our historic estate in Pontiac. About this car: “Nicknamed the “Buzz-Wagon” for its loud noise, Wisner’s invention was a rough draft in terms of cars. It had a single, rear door and no brakes, so Wisner often relied on running into walls or other sturdy objects to stop. When Wisner introduced his car in Flint’s Labor Day Parade, it stalled and had to be pushed out of the way.” — MotorCities National Heritage Area

On September 3, 1900, Charles Wisner debuted the first car ever made in Flint. The son of former Michigan Governor Moses Wisner, Charles was a fascinating and talented man who grew up right here at our historic estate in Pontiac. About this car: “Nicknamed the “Buzz-Wagon” for its loud noise, Wisner’s invention was a rough draft in terms of cars. It had a single, rear door and no brakes, so Wisner often relied on running into walls or other sturdy objects to stop. When Wisner introduced his car in Flint’s Labor Day Parade, it stalled and had to be pushed out of the way.” — MotorCities National Heritage Area

James Hildebrand, who served as Pontiac’s police chief from 1981 to 1986 (which included when Pontiac hosted the Super B...
09/02/2021
Former Pontiac police chief James Hildebrand dies at age 92

James Hildebrand, who served as Pontiac’s police chief from 1981 to 1986 (which included when Pontiac hosted the Super Bowl), has died at 92.

James Hildebrand, who served as Pontiac’s police chief from 1981 to 1986, died Aug. 28. He was 92.

On this day fifty years ago, a group of former Ku Klux Klan members bombed ten empty Pontiac school buses. The district ...
08/30/2021

On this day fifty years ago, a group of former Ku Klux Klan members bombed ten empty Pontiac school buses. The district had been previously court-ordered to bus students to racially integrate, due to its inability to otherwise provide fair classroom opportunities and resources and come up with methods to overcome the district’s existing segregation — and that new school year was set to begin only days away. Fear and violence was used in an attempt to continue the segregated status quo. Thousands of scared families, confused children, and strained educators had to forge through the figurative wreckage to make a new school year happen despite the trauma. This was in 1971 — and the Pontiac community is still living with the scars of this domestic terrorism. Thank God for the teachers, bus drivers, support staff, secretaries, principals, and administrators that forged ahead to educate our community then despite the uncertainty. This crisis dramatically shaped Oakland County’s history, and our broader region’s history.

On this day fifty years ago, a group of former Ku Klux Klan members bombed ten empty Pontiac school buses. The district had been previously court-ordered to bus students to racially integrate, due to its inability to otherwise provide fair classroom opportunities and resources and come up with methods to overcome the district’s existing segregation — and that new school year was set to begin only days away. Fear and violence was used in an attempt to continue the segregated status quo. Thousands of scared families, confused children, and strained educators had to forge through the figurative wreckage to make a new school year happen despite the trauma. This was in 1971 — and the Pontiac community is still living with the scars of this domestic terrorism. Thank God for the teachers, bus drivers, support staff, secretaries, principals, and administrators that forged ahead to educate our community then despite the uncertainty. This crisis dramatically shaped Oakland County’s history, and our broader region’s history.

“Woodward Avenue working as intended,” from the Oakland County Road Commissioners’ annual report, circa 1926.
08/28/2021

“Woodward Avenue working as intended,” from the Oakland County Road Commissioners’ annual report, circa 1926.

“Woodward Avenue working as intended,” from the Oakland County Road Commissioners’ annual report, circa 1926.

Oakland County's Sylvan Lake, which bills itself as the Prettiest Little City in Michigan, celebrated their 100th annive...
08/27/2021

Oakland County's Sylvan Lake, which bills itself as the Prettiest Little City in Michigan, celebrated their 100th anniversary today. 2021 marks a century since Sylvan Lake started as a village. Fun fact: the lake itself was previously two lakes, Timber and Pickerel. Sylvan, which means "located in the woods," has been the name since the early 1900s (when they also started considering the two lakes one) and the source of the community's current name, naturally.

Oakland County's Sylvan Lake, which bills itself as the Prettiest Little City in Michigan, celebrated their 100th anniversary today. 2021 marks a century since Sylvan Lake started as a village. Fun fact: the lake itself was previously two lakes, Timber and Pickerel. Sylvan, which means "located in the woods," has been the name since the early 1900s (when they also started considering the two lakes one) and the source of the community's current name, naturally.

Did you know: In Oakland County’s Southfield, large sections were originally Indian Reservations. Per the 1807 Treaty of...
08/25/2021

Did you know: In Oakland County’s Southfield, large sections were originally Indian Reservations. Per the 1807 Treaty of Detroit, these lands belonged to two tribes of Potawatomi (Bodewadmi). Each reservation was named for its Chief; the one in Sections 30 and 31 was called Tonquish; and the one in Sections 8 and 9 was called Segin Siwin.

Did you know: In Oakland County’s Southfield, large sections were originally Indian Reservations. Per the 1807 Treaty of Detroit, these lands belonged to two tribes of Potawatomi (Bodewadmi). Each reservation was named for its Chief; the one in Sections 30 and 31 was called Tonquish; and the one in Sections 8 and 9 was called Segin Siwin.

The automotive art of Jim Ewen, GM designer for decades, part of the Pontiac Creative Arts Center and Pontiac Transporta...
08/21/2021

The automotive art of Jim Ewen, GM designer for decades, part of the Pontiac Creative Arts Center and Pontiac Transportation Museum exhibit. #DreamCruise

Today marks Madonna Ciccone’s 63rd birthday. The best-selling female recording artist of all time, she grew up in Pontia...
08/16/2021

Today marks Madonna Ciccone’s 63rd birthday. The best-selling female recording artist of all time, she grew up in Pontiac and Avon Township (now Rochester Hills).

Today marks Madonna Ciccone’s 63rd birthday. The best-selling female recording artist of all time, she grew up in Pontiac and Avon Township (now Rochester Hills).

Spotted at our center this weekend when Ford Model As were visiting during their convention: Lower the Gas Tax protest p...
08/16/2021

Spotted at our center this weekend when Ford Model As were visiting during their convention: Lower the Gas Tax protest plate, circa 1930s! #wherehistoryhappens

Spotted at our center this weekend when Ford Model As were visiting during their convention: Lower the Gas Tax protest plate, circa 1930s! #wherehistoryhappens

Don't miss our free outdoor concert by Consuming Arts tonight at 7 pm! In addition to the great music our facilities wil...
08/13/2021

Don't miss our free outdoor concert by Consuming Arts tonight at 7 pm! In addition to the great music our facilities will be open for exploration and light refreshments are available for purchase. We still have this summer's historic images exhibit up on our grounds for you to enjoy. Plus, all weekend long we've got a massive Outdoor Flea Market on our campus. That's right: Visit us Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to scratch your treasure-hunting itch.

Don't miss our free outdoor concert by Consuming Arts tonight at 7 pm! In addition to the great music our facilities will be open for exploration and light refreshments are available for purchase. We still have this summer's historic images exhibit up on our grounds for you to enjoy. Plus, all weekend long we've got a massive Outdoor Flea Market on our campus. That's right: Visit us Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to scratch your treasure-hunting itch.

Historic Cadillac peeped in Oakland County’s downtown Berkley. #cadillac #fleetwood
08/13/2021

Historic Cadillac peeped in Oakland County’s downtown Berkley. #cadillac #fleetwood

Historic Cadillac peeped in Oakland County’s downtown Berkley. #cadillac #fleetwood

‘Bathing Beach, Walled Lake’ from the 1926 “Oakland Highways” annual report by the county’s road commissioners. #WhereHi...
08/11/2021

‘Bathing Beach, Walled Lake’ from the 1926 “Oakland Highways” annual report by the county’s road commissioners. #WhereHistoryHappens

‘Bathing Beach, Walled Lake’ from the 1926 “Oakland Highways” annual report by the county’s road commissioners. #WhereHistoryHappens

Ornate U.S. Postal Service Letterbox in the lobby of the Pontiac State Bank building in downtown Pontiac; it receives le...
08/09/2021

Ornate U.S. Postal Service Letterbox in the lobby of the Pontiac State Bank building in downtown Pontiac; it receives letters from the above floors via chute.

Ornate U.S. Postal Service Letterbox in the lobby of the Pontiac State Bank building in downtown Pontiac; it receives letters from the above floors via chute.

Postcard from the Past, from our collection: The Pontiac Fire Department and a Seagrave fire truck. This since-demolishe...
08/05/2021

Postcard from the Past, from our collection: The Pontiac Fire Department and a Seagrave fire truck. This since-demolished station was on Perry Street downtown.

Postcard from the Past, from our collection: The Pontiac Fire Department and a Seagrave fire truck. This since-demolished station was on Perry Street downtown.

Rosa Parks (left) in front of the Rackham Fountain at the Detroit Zoo, located in Oakland County. Source: Renowned autho...
08/03/2021

Rosa Parks (left) in front of the Rackham Fountain at the Detroit Zoo, located in Oakland County. Source: Renowned author and historian Danielle McGuire (a local!).

Rosa Parks (left) in front of the Rackham Fountain at the Detroit Zoo, located in Oakland County. Source: Renowned author and historian Danielle McGuire (a local!).

Senator Carl Levin’s life and legacy will not be forgotten. We celebrate his family’s early roots in Oakland County’s Bi...
07/30/2021
Carl Levin, the Senate Scourge of Corporate America, Dies at 87

Senator Carl Levin’s life and legacy will not be forgotten. We celebrate his family’s early roots in Oakland County’s Birmingham. May his memory be a blessing.

The longest-serving U.S. senator in Michigan history, Mr. Levin was regarded by colleagues and Washington observers as a paragon of probity.

Oakland History Center: Where History Happens. The community loved interacting with historic reenactors during our Ice C...
07/30/2021

Oakland History Center: Where History Happens. The community loved interacting with historic reenactors during our Ice Cream Social.

Oakland History Center: Where History Happens. The community loved interacting with historic reenactors during our Ice Cream Social.

In 1961, Pontiac celebrated a century as a city. For one week, they went all out for it, including nightly performances ...
07/27/2021

In 1961, Pontiac celebrated a century as a city. For one week, they went all out for it, including nightly performances at Wisner Stadium. Who remembers?

In 1961, Pontiac celebrated a century as a city. For one week, they went all out for it, including nightly performances at Wisner Stadium. Who remembers?

07/25/2021

The local history fun continues at our 52nd Annual Summer Ice Cream Social! #WhereHistoryHappens

🎉 Scenes from day one of our Summer Ice Cream Social this weekend! Join in the free fun (and great sales) Sunday, July 2...
07/24/2021

🎉 Scenes from day one of our Summer Ice Cream Social this weekend! Join in the free fun (and great sales) Sunday, July 25th between Noon to Four. 🎉

“Everyone is screaming for ice cream and more this weekend.” Don’t miss our free Ice Cream Social this Saturday and Sund...
07/23/2021
Summer Ice Cream Social returns to Pontiac

“Everyone is screaming for ice cream and more this weekend.” Don’t miss our free Ice Cream Social this Saturday and Sunday, Noon to Four each day!

The Summer Ice Cream Social returns this weekend in Pontiac for its 52nd year.

Don’t miss our 52nd Annual Summer Ice Cream Social🍨 Admission is free, and there are tons of family-friendly activities ...
07/18/2021

Don’t miss our 52nd Annual Summer Ice Cream Social🍨 Admission is free, and there are tons of family-friendly activities as you step back in time!

Don’t miss our 52nd Annual Summer Ice Cream Social🍨 Admission is free, and there are tons of family-friendly activities as you step back in time!

Postcard from the Past: “This is Vacationland.” Sylvan Lake. This and other enlarged historic images will be displayed a...
07/16/2021

Postcard from the Past: “This is Vacationland.” Sylvan Lake. This and other enlarged historic images will be displayed at our Ice Cream Social July 24-25.

Postcard from the Past: “This is Vacationland.” Sylvan Lake. This and other enlarged historic images will be displayed at our Ice Cream Social July 24-25.

We had a fun time giving a history tour of Governor Wisner’s estate to Lakecrest Baptist Church of Waterford this weeken...
07/11/2021

We had a fun time giving a history tour of Governor Wisner’s estate to Lakecrest Baptist Church of Waterford this weekend! #WhereHistoryHappens

We had a fun time giving a history tour of Governor Wisner’s estate to Lakecrest Baptist Church of Waterford this weekend! #WhereHistoryHappens

Address

405 Cesar E Chavez Ave
Pontiac, MI
48342-1068

Opening Hours

Tuesday 11am - 4pm
Wednesday 11am - 4pm
Thursday 11am - 4pm

Telephone

(248) 338-6732

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The Oakland County Pioneer & Historical Society is located at Pine Grove, the former estate of Governor Moses Wisner. Today, Pine Grove consists of 4 1/2 acres of land, the Wisner mansion and several out-buildings, including a summer kitchen, outhouse, smokehouse and root cellar. In addition to the outbuildings, there is the Drayton Plains One Room School House and the Carriage House, which is home to the Research Library, office and the Pioneer Museum. Group tours of six or more may be arranged by contacting us to schedule an appointment. Visitors may also tour Pine Grove during special events, such as our Summer Social or Victorian Christmas Open House. Please click on our website for info on tours, membership, hours, research, publications, news, etc.

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Comments

Always looking for people with links to the DUNCOMBE and FAY families from Pontiac and Oakland County. It is great to know that people are still interested in their past, and helping to links with others to preserve their history
Hoping your Center and your readers can help. Found this old family photo and trying to identify to allow folks to connect to their ancestors. The man in the middle with the cane is believed to be William M Hartsell (1839-1942), of South Johnson Street. The back of the image said it was a gathering for his 100th birthday, but I believe it could have been earlier. Is that Pontiac City Hospital in the background? Anyone have hints to help narrow the year it was taken?
I had disputed someone's comment once that the property of the Eastern Michigan Asylum, Pontiac State Hospital and the Clinton Valley Center encompassed an area west to Telegraph. Tonight while researching maps of Waterford Township I find that I was wrong. Maps from 1908 and 1925 indicate the property extended west to Telegraph and west into Waterford where The Mall was. In Pontiac the property of the Eastern Michigan Asylum extended north to Dixie Hwy. I wonder what the plans were for all that property. In the end a lot of the western parts of the property became commercial property and the Oakland County complex.
Man in the City Detroit Sculpture available at the Oakland History Center. The first 25 will receive a Detroit Sticker
Here is some Oakland County History that I could not find in the search engine. Snakes Alive, 10070 Dixie Hwy., Springfield Twp
Well I would like to join this society but I can't find where on your web site that is possible. I was born in Oakland County 88 years ago and at this point I have some artifacts that I think should go to your museum. My family were early pioneers in this area and donated land for schools and churches as well as participate in the city, county and state government. My maiden name is Howarth and my father was Spencer C. Howarth who at one time was the sheriff of Oakland County for a period of 12 years and later served in the state legilature. My cousin, Mariie England of Oxford has some of my father s papers that were saved by my sister, Brenda Delores Howarth Rose who has passed away. I need to make arrangemenlts to pass some of the items that I still have to a museum before I pass away as my children are not interested. Please let me know how I can start a membership in the Society and discussions on what you are looking for the musuem. Regards, Patricia Howarth Younie [email protected]
I didnt see one post, one photo about the 1907/1908 Pontiac Automobile.
Motorama at Pine Grove: Driver Introduction Series
I really enjoyed the cemetery walk 2020. Thanks to all the volunteers and workers who made it great!
Beautiful mausoleum!
Does anyone know about the Big house that was just demolished on the corner of Huron and I think State street by the railroad tracks that goes over Huron, I took a long weekend from work and came back Wednesday and its a pile of rubble. That house has been there forever it seems
Hello. Does anyone remember a campsite on Walled Lake called "The Homestead"? My mom said she camped there in the 1950s. Thank you for your help.