The General Store
Also known as "the Brick House", the Heathman-Herre House was built in 1877 by Wiliam H. Turner as a blacksmith shop for his son, Charles Turner. The building was originally located on the northeast corner of Hamilton and Marsh Roads in Okemos.
According to oral tradition, Charles went to California looking for gold before ever starting his business. Later archaeological investigation of the site gave no evidence of any blacksmith activity. After Charles left for California, his father enclosed the large front opening with a door and two side windows, making it a village shop.
The Brick House is two stories tall and, in its original construction, had no interior access to the second floor. There was an exterior staircase similar to the current one on the north side of the house. This staircase led to the second floor, known as "Turner's Hall", which was used as a meeting place by fraternal organizations such as the Odd Fellows Society. Early news accounts frequently mention the Grange Association used the second floor for information and social activities in this rural community. Traveling actors and musicians frequently stayed at the Barnes House Inn (also relocated to the Village) and performed at "Turner's Hall".
Several families lived in the "Brick House" over the years. In addition to the Turner's, the Gottfried Herre and Walter Heathman families lived here. The last owner of the building prior to relocation was Keith Bartow, who taught music and operated a small musical instrument shop in the front room of the building.
The building was moved to the Historical Village in 1988. At the time it was moved, it was estimated to weigh 248,000 pounds! The building was lifted on to a flat-bed truck and slowly moved from the corner of Marsh and Hamilton Roads to the Village in Central Park. As the truck came up over the curb in the park, one of the tires blew out and the truck had to be "jacked-up" to change the tire with the 248,000 pound building on top!
Currently the building houses a general store exhibit and the village gift shop.