The original building was erected in 1896-97 and was the First Presbyterian Church. However, in 1915 it was sold to the Fife Lake Episcopal Church, which also failed to prosper, and was taken over by the Citizens’ State Bank of Fife Lake in 1925. The bank used it as a Community Hall for social and athletic events and showing silent movies.
In 1934 the Fife Lake school district purchased the building, expanded it by 12 feet, and used it as the school gym where basketball games were played. The school district later received a pilot grant from the federal government to study the feasibility of developing a pioneer village and museum. Although additional funds were not forthcoming, a museum of sorts was established at this location. The Fife Lake Women’s Club took the initiative to support the museum by organizing the Fife Lake Historical Society in 1967, and in 1969 the historical society was incorporated under Michigan law. In 1972 the Fife Lake school district deeded the building to the Fife Lake Area Historical Society.
A rather elaborate series of displays were developed and things were progressing reasonable well when the roof of the old church building collapsed in 1977 under the weight of snow, following a severe storm. The artifacts, whether intact or broken, were taken to the barns, basements, and storage rooms of concerned citizens. A variety of fund raising projects were undertaken, bringing in slightly over $7,000, and an old-fashioned “barn raising” was held. In 1978 about 25 men worked two days to erect a windowless building shell over the original foundation and floor, while meals were provided by women of the community. Over the next two years an additional $5,000 was raised for windows, doors, wiring, insulation, drywall, and other necessities.
Then the slow process of redoing the displays was begun. By the end of the 1980’s the museum was looking good, and since that time many improvements have appeared. New signs were installed, new siding has been applied, and an air conditioning system is the latest refinement.