The Marshall Historical Museum at the GAR Hall is designed to tell Marshall's stories. Focus areas are It Happened in Marshall, Things Made in Marshall, Community Life, and Marshall in the Civil War. A special exhibit on railroads in Marshall continues in 2019.
The building was constructed in 1902 as the meeting place for the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. The importance of the GAR is shown by the fact that the building was built more than 35 year after the war's end.
Featured at the museum entrance is the Hinkle Automatic Theatre, an early 1900s marionette show, that once toured southern Michigan communities. It was donated to the Marshall Historical Society by the Steve Trupiano family. Steve's grandfather Frank Hinkle constructed the set and his grandmother Julia Hinkle designed and made clothes for the figures. The marionette show was restored several decades ago by Jim Bryant.
The section labeled It Happened in Marshall shows key events in the city's history including the Crosswhite incident where local residents prevented the return of to Kentucky of an escaped slave family and how Marshall almost became the state capital.
The Things Made in Marshall section includes a Marshall folding bathtub, a buggy made by Page Buggy Works, items associated with the Brooks Rupture Appliance Co. and the F. A. Stuart patent medicine business, and the large counter and numerous ledgers from the Brewer dry good store.
There is a large poster from last year's movie "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" based on the novel by local author John Bellairs. On display is the 1950 J. C. Higgins bicycle which Bellairs used as a boy traveling the Marshall sidewalks and developing his imagination. Other Community Life exhibits have items showing what life in Marshall was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Civil War items include those relating to Capt. DeVille Hubbard, who in 1861 organized the Marshall Light Guard that became part of the First Michigan Infantry Regiment. This unit traveled to Washington, DC, where it was greeted by President Abraham Lincoln. It later participated in the first Battle of Bull Run. Equipment and photos relating to the local Union soliders are displayed. There are also numerous items related to veterans' activities including souvenir medals and reunion posters.
The GAR Hall was obtained by the Marshall Historical Society from the City of Marshall in 1976.