Kaleva, Michigan 

The Kaleva Historical Society

Early Years
In 1969 the Kaleva Historical Society (KHS) was formed by members of the community that wanted to preserve the heritage and history of family, church, and community. Around 1900 when the first Finnish families moved to Kaleva they arrived to pine stumps and blow sand. Many that could afford to cut their loses and return to their homes did, but those who could not leave made the best of the what they had. By treasuring family, church and community and with a bit of SISU (Finnish for strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity) the founding families of Kaleva worked hard to persevere and erect a town from nothing. 
From that proud heritage came the group of people who formed the Kaleva Historical Society. The first Historical Museum was housed in a room of the former Kaleva Jr. High School.

Major Historical Society Projects

Project Kaleva.  In 1998 the Project Kaleva committee was formed to support the Brethren High School student's work helping Kaleva build community pride. Over the years Project Kaleva has worked with Service Learning Classes to restore the Railroad Depot, to restore the Asiala family log cabin and add a performance deck for outdoor concerts in a village park, to create the Kaleva Centennial Walkway featuring original sculptures such as the giant Grasshopper that represents the St. Urho story.  Project Kaleva is no longer a separate entity, but is now part of the Kaleva Historical Society and its enthusiastic volunteers continue working on various community projects such as the the Winter Solstice celebration during which over 1000 luminaries are placed on graves at Maple Grove Twp. Cemetery in Kaleva.

Kaleva Beautification Team.  In 2010, a group of civic minded area residents were concerned about the number of neglected properties in the village.  They spearheaded a clean-up effort by targeting abandoned properties.  Their next project was raising funds for the demolition of a condemned house so the property owner could donate the property to Habitat for Humanity.  They recently erected beautiful new welcome signs to the village on the north, east, and west sides.

The Finnish Line.  KHS puts on a 5K run/walk race during Kaleva Days.  The Finnish Line begins at 9am on the 3rd Saturday of July in front of the elementary school
[2012 entry form].  
Call 231-362-3519 or email:  deanna.draze@gmail.com  for more information.

The Log Cabin Concerts.
  The Asiala family cabin was brought to town and restored by the students in Service Learning Program at Brethren High School. The cabin was built around 1908 when the Asiala family came to Kaleva. It was originally located near Wilson Road and now sits on a lot owned by the village of Kaleva between Walta Ave and Panu Ave. Since 1999 the community has been able to enjoy free entertainment each Friday during the month of August at 7pm.

See event page for dates.

Kaleva Sites maintained by KHS:

The Bottle House Museum. 
This unique home, built in 1941 out of 60,000 glass bottles, was purchase by the Kaleva Historical Society in 1983.  The Bottle House is now listed on the National Historic Register and home to many exhibits illustrating the Finnish-American history of the community including businesses, farming, and early settlers. Open Sat & Sun Noon- 4pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day & Saturdays Only Noon-4 through end of October.   Located at 14551 Wuoksi, Kaleva.

The Kaleva Depot.  The first Kaleva depot was built in the late 1800's.  At that time Kaleva was known as Manistee Crossings.  In 1904, the original Depot burned in a major fire that destroyed much of the business district.  In 1908 the present depot was built.The RR museum located in the depot houses a collection artifacts about the history of railroads and their impact on Kaleva. The Village of Kaleva has bought and restored a M&NE Switch engine located beside the depot. Open Saturdays Noon- 4pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The Eagle Park.  The Eagle Park is a small little park next to a historic building where the Finnish newspaper was published in the early years.  For many years it was a drug store and now is the Kaleva Art Gallery where local artisans sell their art works and homemade products.  The Eagle in the park (a character from the Kalevala) was designed by Andy Priest, local artisan who helped Brethren High School Service Learning Students contruct and install the structure.  Flower gardens in the park are maintained by the Kaleva Beautification Team.

Kaleva Centennial Walkway.  Created by the service learning students in 1998, this walkway extends from the west side of the business district (Wouski St.) south to Nine Mile Rd.  This pleasant walk takes you by gardens and unique sculptures. 

The Asiala Park. 
The Asiala park was donated to the village by the children of Emil and Sally Asiala.  At one time Emil's mother ran a bakery at this location next to the grocery store (now Kaleva Meats).  It is the perfect place to enjoy your lunch at one of the picnic tables or just sit and enjoy the flowers maintained by the Kaleva Beautification Team.

The Log Cabin Theater.  See description on the left of this page of this unique entertainment venue.


If you are interested in supporting the exciting work being done by the Kaleva Historical Society, please visit our membership page.[membership form]

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