(Chelsea Update would like to thank Kathy Clark and Janet Ogle-Mater for the information in this story.)
Chelsea Area Historical Society created their own history by signing a deal to purchase a historic property in Chelsea on Friday, Dec. 5.
Forty years in the making, CAHS has secured a permanent home for area history, and organizational offices and a forthcoming historical museum are now located at 128 Jackson St. (across the street from The Depot).
“In my years of involvement with CAHS, the topic of a permanent home has been perennial,” said President Janet Ogle-Mater. “We looked at the Boyd house 4-5 years ago, but did not have the funds to be serious about a purchase. When the property came back on the market in June, the organization jumped at the opportunity. We organized a capital campaign quickly, and the community responded positively.”
In four months, CAHS was able to raise more than $50,000, which was enough for a down payment on the historic 1853 Greek Revival home. The organization is purchasing the property on a land contract for $180,000 and has five years to pay off the remainder. The fundraising campaign continues, with a special emphasis on “100 at a Grand” in which the nonprofit hopes to have one hundred people, families, and/or businesses donate $1,000 each.
“CAHS is very excited to bring an enduring historical resource to the community. Our plans are only just formulating, but we anticipate a spring opening of exhibits with regular business hours each week,” said Ogle-Mater.
The new home of CAHS is located in one of the oldest homes in Chelsea. The property was part of founder Elisha Congdon’s original holdings, but he sold several lots to Mial Boyd in May 1852.
Boyd, who was one of the founding members of the Chelsea Methodist Episcopal Church, moved from Lima Township and built the home by 1853. A succession of owners has lived in the building over the years, including long-time Chelsea superintendent of schools, Charles S. Cameron. It was bought by Glenda Warner in the late 1990s and refurbished into office and commercial use at that time.
As a result of the renovations, the building is move-in ready for the organization with newer plumbing and electrical, handicap accessibility, and even a small kitchen added in space of an old one-car garage. Even with the updates, not all of the historic features have been compromised. Some of the original single panel latch-hook doors remain, as well as the old chestnut flooring upstairs.
Over the course of the winter, CAHS will begin to unpack and catalogue their collections. Temporary exhibits will be constructed and readied for a spring opening, while plans will continue for permanent exhibits and design layout.
The organization will continue to hold their monthly membership meetings across the street at the Chelsea Depot. CAHS meets the second Monday of the month and meetings are open to the public.
“It is a wonderful time for CAHS and a great time to get involved with the organization,” said Ogle-Mater. “Much is yet to come.”