A Brief History of the WTHS

September 1980.  A dozen Webster Church members and friends with an interest in history set about to form a historic committee. On December 29, 1980 WTHS formally incorporated under laws of the State of Michigan as a nonprofit corporation. Signers of the Articles of Incorporation were Marjorie E. Smyth, May A. Mast, James B. Parker, Elizabeth Kleinschmidt, and Heloise Dunston.

February 1981.  The Society had its first fund-raising event, a box social and square dance held in the Community Center. That event evolved into the 1981 Webster Fall Festival. Co-sponsored with the Webster United Church of Christ, this annual community celebration supports the acquisitions and work of the Society.

January 12, 1983.  The IRS granted 501(c)3 status making the Society exempt from Federal tax and eligible to receive tax deductible gifts and donations.

The first major project of the WTHS began with the purchase in 1983 of one plus acres of the Williams Farm from May Kleinschmidt Mast, a founder of the Society. Over time May sold three parcels to the WTHS, always on most favorable terms.

February 23, 1984.  The Society adopted by-laws, confirming it to be a community organization.

On the first parcel, the WTHS reconstructed a circa 1875 wheelwright and blacksmith shop built by Victor Jean Wheeler. This building was transported in sections from three miles further north. On August 20, 1985, the WTHS Board of Directors decreed: “Wheeler Blacksmith Shop, an historic structure, a significant relic of early Webster Township history, its architectural and structural integrity shall be preserved.”

Today, the buildings and grounds on the almost 4-acre parcel of land are part of the Historic Webster Village located just north of Farrell Road in the 5500 block of Webster Church Road outside of Dexter, MI. On this property are 7 buildings surrounded by beautiful grounds that are owned and maintained by the WTHS: (1) Crossroads Community Center, built in 1867; (2) Wheeler Wheelwright & Blacksmith Shop, built in the mid-1870s; (3) Podunk School, built in 1846; (4) Old Township Hall, built in 1871; (5) May Mast’s Old North Barn, built in the 1940s; (6) Kleinschmidt General Store, a replica, built in 2005; (7) Dieterle’s Corncrib, a music stage built in 2016 to honor the memory of a talented musician. In addition, May’s Memorial Garden in the center of our village green showcases plants from 1750-1850, reflecting the time period of the buildings surrounding it.

WTHS maintains an archives of donated materials, the Historic Webster Archives (HWA). Artifacts donated to the Society become part of the HWA and are preserved and displayed in our buildings for future generations to enjoy.