Local folk art returns to Ortonville

By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
Staff Writer
Ortonville — A piece of folk art is finally at home in Ortonville.
The Tramp art piece is believed to be modeled after the Village Church of Ortonville, 93 N. Church St., Ortonville. It was carved by Ortonville resident Seymore Torrence. It will now be on display at the Old Mill Museum, where it is on loan indefinitely from the Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society.
“It’s important to us because it was created by someone from Ortonville,” said Ortonville Community Historical Society President Judy Miracle. “We try to have local artifacts, and we plan for it to be displayed in a prominent place.”
Tramp art was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was most often made by notching and whittling wood from disassembled cigar boxes and fruit crates. This particular piece was made by Torrence in 1881, and his only tool was a jackknife. The pieces were fitted together without the use of glue or tacks.
Historical society member John Hay recognized the piece while he was at the Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society in 2008, and had been trying to get the piece to the Old Mill Museum since then when he noticed that the artist was from Ortonville.
“The guy was from Ortonville, but there was no museum around at the time,” said Hay. “It’s back where it belongs and it was a long battle. That’s 15 years. Every time I’d go there, I’d be thinking of that thing.”
The last time Hay went to the museum, he talked to someone about the art piece being given to the Old Mill Museum, and was told the process. Miracle was able to submit for the loan, and was granted it by the Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society.
The piece will be on display at the Old Mill Museum, 366 Mill St., Ortonville.

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