(Chelsea Update would like to thank Shawn Personke for the information in this story.)
Chelsea may be famous for Jiffy Mix, the Purple Rose Theatre, and its thriving art and restaurant scene, but there’s more to the city’s story.
This summer, the Chelsea Area Historical Society unpacks both the famous and infamous in its inaugural walking tour, “Boozy History of Chelsea: Saloons, Pubs & Bars,” on Saturdays, June 10 and 17.
Tour leader and organizer, Jasen King, is excited about the museum’s new “pub crawl.” Working with former board member Cary Church’s research and museum volunteer Mary Keaton, he found a deep well of stories dating from the 1850s through the 1990s, highlighting a wild and free-flowing past filled with political intrigue, gambling, murder, and hours-long fist fights.
“Chelsea has a fascinating history,” said King. “Much of the past has been forgotten, but this tour will tell the stories of legal and illegal drinking, tavern escapades, the temperance movement and prohibition, and how the landscape and demand for alcohol morphed into today’s sensibility.”
King said that, at times, the rules and regulations were less stringent, but sometimes state politicians, like Frank Glazier, took a local and strong hand in solving the drinking and gambling problems of their era.
CAHS board president and Chelsea native, Jan Bernath, recalls the “bar scene” growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s. She’s looking forward to learning more about how things were in early Chelsea history.
“I always thought Seitz’s on West Middle Street was the only bar ever in town,” said Bernath. “When the idea came up to develop a historic pub crawl, I was all in. I’m thrilled with the new tour and the stories and secrets behind Chelsea’s familiar storefronts that are still standing.”
Because much of the walking event takes place in the city’s social district, the tour includes stops for beverages. Walkers will be able to stroll with their beverage of choice.
Tickets and more info about “Boozy Chelsea: Saloons, Pubs & Bars” are available via Eventbrite.
Admission is $20 for the 90-minute tour, with discounts for museum members. Combo tour and membership tickets are available for $25.
The mission of the Chelsea Area Historical Society is to gather and preserve Chelsea area history, educate the public, and promote the restoration and preservation of historic buildings and sites for future generations. The museum is located in the 1853 Boyd House, at 128 Jackson St., across from the Chelsea Depot. The museum is open Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. and on Thursday evenings, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., during Sound & Sights.
For more information, visit www.chelseahistory.org or call 734-476-2010.