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Collection Tier:
Tier 2

Plaque, 'High Water Mark, Flood, 1904'

Cast steel plaque, rectangular with pointed ends. Two large holes for screws, which currently attach it to a shield-shaped wooden back that is not original.;Tangible evidence of an important event on the Grand River and in the City's history. We have many photos of the effects of the 1904 flood. We also have other commemorative building plaques.;'HIGH WATER MARK/-FLOOD-/MARCH-28-1904'. Cast on front..;Placed on 2nd floor of former Adolph Leitelt Iron Works (demolished), corner of Erie & Mill Sts., near current Grand Center site. Placed on 2nd floor of former Adolph Leitelt Iron Works (demolished), corner of Erie & Mill Sts., near current Grand Center site.
Steel, Wood
2" h 11.2500 | 14.75" w .2500 | 1" d; 11" h
Current Location Status:
Education Program
Gift Of Dan Van Haften

Big Stuff (November 12 2011 – February 29 2012)
BIG STUFF from the Permanent Collection
An inspired selection of favorites chosen by the Museum Staff

For more than 150 years, the Public Museum has been collecting STUFF.  We’re the keepers of important “one for the record books” stuff; quirky “what were they thinking” stuff; fragile “from a bygone era” stuff; patent-related “don’t forget whose stuff this is” stuff; small to the point of being overlooked stuff; and BIG “how did you get that through the door” stuff.  In short, we keep track of history through the physical objects our society has amassed along the way.  
But stuff requires more storage space than anyone cares to think about.  As a result, a mere 10% of the Museum’s collection is on display here at any given time.  This is our attempt to correct that.  We’ve pulled back the dust covers, opened the drawers and invited Museum staff members into the archives to vote on their favorites in one category - BIG STUFF.  Conjure up all the adjectives you can come up with to replace BIG, then have a look inside!

Harrison Park School Grand River Exhibit (2014)
The fifth Grade class at harrison park Elementary created this exhibit for there school after participating int he Immerse program at the museum.  

Investigate: Historic Grand River Artifacts (September 2018)
During the Investigate program, students will take the role of Museum curators and use close observation and critical thinking to discover the origin, meaning, and importance of real objects from the Museum’s Collection. Students will learn how to handle and study primary sources and will be pushed to consider how singular objects or groups of objects can tell meaningful stories about our place.

Student Objectives:
  • Learners will be able to analyze primary sources (artifacts and photographs) and make inferences about the story or significance of the sources.
  • Learners will be able to describe how the Grand River impacted the lives of people who lived in Grand Rapids between 1850 and 1910.

Curriculum Connections:

  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Constructing Explanations; Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  • ELA Common Core Standards by Domain: Research to Build and Present Knowledge; Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Michigan K-12 Social Studies Standards: H1 The World in Temporal Terms: Historical Habits of Mind, H3 The HIstory of Michigan and the Great Lakes Region, G5 Environment and Society, P1 Reading and Communication, P2 Inquiry Research and Analysis

Dan Van Haften

Leitelt Iron Works
Founded by Adolph Leitelt in 1862, this iron works is among the oldest in the state of Michigan and, at its peak, one of its largest. In 1914 the company occupied a plant at the corner of Erie and Mill Street, "including among its departments, machine, blacksmith, boiler and pattern shops, iron and brass foundries, and structural iron works, with a total of 65,600 square feet of floor space, and employed about 150 men." The company operated the first boiler shop in Grand Rapids, while still known as the Valley City Iron Works. A fire in 1872 destroyed the first foundry and machine shop. The company specialized in the production of lumbering equipment, and factory machinery, especially for the furniture industry.