About Us

The Lawton Heritage Museum is nestled in the huge wine cellars of the Lawton Lions Heritage Community Center in the village of Lawton. The center itself is a unique architectural structure of cobblestone located in the heart of the “Fruit Belt” of southwest Michigan. The 1903 structure, a state and national historic site, is the state’s oldest standing winery building which makes it a most appropriate setting for the Museum.

Displays  depict  circa  1900-1940  farming,  processing, and daily life in support of the industry. Major exhibits include vineyard farm equipment, very early wine and grape processing machinery. Including: 

  • Local related history displays
  • Home life depictions
  • Interior barn decor
  • One room school house setting
  • Village  general  store
  • Soda  shop
  • Barber shop
  • Train station

and memorabilia from various wineries and fruit processors.

The unique layout of the Museum allows visitors to wander among the displays, touch but not handle artifacts and ask questions of the volunteers. The Museum has no regular hours, but is available  upon  request  for  groups  of  any  size  or

for individuals. Schools, 4H, scouts, and other youth groups are encouraged. Adequate adult supervision is required.

History

Lawton is the birthplace of the Michigan grape and wine industry with the first grapes being planted shortly after the civil war and the first commercial harvesting beginning around 1900 in the form of fresh pack table grapes. The juice and wine processing began in 1903 in the very building that houses the museum. Through the years numerous juice and wine processors have made their home in Lawton and 2 continue today, namely Welchs and Honee Bear canning. Lawton grew up around the grape industry and that is what the Museum tries to represent. The same may be said for Paw Paw only a few years later and 3 miles down the road.

Exhibits

The exhibits focus on artifacts used in the vineyards, artifacts used in the wineries, artifacts found in the typical barn, farmhouse, and one room schoolhouse. In addition the focus is also on the typical small town that supports the farm. Displays include a general store, soda shop, and barber shop. Lawton has it's own memorabilia room with items unique to Lawton. Artifacts are obtained via donation, loan, and outright purchase and are logged, and insured. Funding for the Museum comes from donations and fund raising events.

You can view some of our exhibits on the Exhibits section of our website or on our Facebook page.

Houppert Winery Complex. The Main Winery Building was constructed in 1940 on the foundation of the original winery, built in 1903 by the J. R. Day Company, according to the June 8, 1940, Benton Harbor Palladium. 

Board of Directors

Tim Washburn of Lawton

President

Tel: (269) 624-6552

Bruce Marks of Lawton

Vice President

Tel: (269) 624-1474

Barb Sampsell of Lawton

Treasurer

Nancy Marks

Secretary


Trustees

Georgie Washburn

Dave Peterson

Gary Sampsell

Phyllis Peterson

Nancy Marks

Rodney Reid