Belding Museum at Historic Belrockton


“Keep your head in the clouds and your hands on the keyboard.”
Marissa Meyer

Back to the keyboard

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I am back behind the computer after a summer filled with author’s gigs, book marketing, anniversary parties and granddaughter Ella’s departure for Fixin, France.

The fall solstice weather is also much more conducive to being tied to the chair without any distractions; that includes minimum social media and Internet browsing only for research purposes and logging in daily word count on the NaNoWriMo website at https://www.nanowrimo.org/

Emma’s book signing during Fallasburg Village Bazaar at the one-room schoolhouse.

However, I have one more big author event to go to before I embark on my second National Novel Writing Month 50k challenge starting on Nov. 1 with prep work in October.

Belrockton Dormitory , home of the Belding Museum

107 Hanover St. Belding, Oct. 6, 2019 1 pm – 4 pm

I am especially looking forward to this book signing of “Shifting Sands: Secrets” inside the original dormitory that housed the silk city girls when Belding was known as the” Silk City of the World.”

The making of “Silk Nora”

The long short story “Silk Nora” is the main story in book 2 in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series. By genre, it belongs to the historical fiction/historical romance catefories. So a good way to search for the book online is by using the keywords #historical fiction #historical romance. In physical bookstores, the book can be found in the fiction category.

The story digs deep into the history of the silk city girls’ dormitory “Belrockton” in Belding at the turn-of-the-century.

The Classical Revival-inspired building was erected in 1906 at a cost of $30,000 . It provided accommodations for 100 single female workers and staff. It was better known as the “Bel” and it is the last dormitory left from the three buildings. Much like the Richardson Mill is the last structure left from the three silk mills in Belding.

As a reporter for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in the early 2000s, I visited the museum on multiple occassions. But, it wasn’t until two years ago, when I spotted a picture of a woman in a hat during the museum’s fashion hat display in the fall of 2017. She was very elegant and beautiful with a nostalgic look on her face.

That woman in a hat served as a model for creating the main character Nora in the historical fiction story “Silk Nora,” which is the main story in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”

I also explored extensively the interior of the dormitory including the girls’ rooms. There was another picture in an oval frame. This was a photo of Mathilda Adrian, who lived in the dormitory. Right next to the oval photo was her marriage certificate to John Mahar dated April 1917. And a double love story was born.

This discovery inspired the character of Mathilda, who became Nora’s best friend. So, at this point I had the main characters, and then I added Doris, the matron and the men into the story. All the characters are woven into Belding’s history of the silk industry started by the Belding Brothers in 1860 by selling silk from house to house.

Creativity of Belrockton staff

The creativity of the Belrockton Museum staff, Jane Forth, Barb Fagerlin, Jan Mehney along with others inspired my own creativity.

T he creative displays at the museum from Hotel Belding such as the receptionist’s desk helped me recreate the scenes of social life at the hotel.

The displays of girls’ rooms complete with mannequins, the movie theater, grocery store, fueled my imagination.

When I discovered the optical illusion picture of the “Face of Gossip” at the dormitory bathrooms, I was totally flabbergasted by the chain of coincidences that made the individual pieces fit into a complete story.

To be continued

Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Palova. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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