The antique wagon that the CAHS plans to display. Photo provided by Bill O’Reilly

| 1 min read | By: Seth Kinker, |

During their September meeting, the Chelsea Area Historical Society (CAHS) had two big announcements.

The first was that the mortgage for the museum at 128 Jackson Street had been paid off. Bought in Nov. of 2014, the CAHS has been fundraising for the last five years, but it wasn’t always straightforward.

“It was a land contract with a big bloom payment that was actually due this coming November,” CAHS President Bill O’Reilly told The Sun Times. “We were able to raise enough money to convert it from a land contract to a traditional mortgage and then we were able to raise the other half for the match campaign. We had an anonymous donor who pledged if we could get $25,000 each year, they would match it and we did. It’s completely done.”


The second announcement, in addition to the mortgage paid off and the CAHS 100% debt-free, was that the CAHS was awarded a grant from the Chelsea Community Foundation (CCF)

Around half of the $23,500 from the CCF grant will go towards a new “Firehouse” one-car carriage house that will house an antique fire wagon.

“No one knows it because we haven’t been able to show it,” said O’Reilly. “We have an antique wagon that was donated to us about three years ago from the Michigan Fire Museum in Depot Town. We haven’t been able to display it; it’s been in a barn ever since. It was actually in Chelsea in the late 1800s. We’ve got photos of it back in the day and it’ll be on display there. We’ll put up a lot of other things we haven’t been able to and if all goes well, it’ll start being part of the fair parade.”

While keeping the details of what else might be in the firehouse close to the vest, O’Reilly told The Sun Times the CAHS hoped to have that structure completed within the next month and plan on a grand opening event once construction is completed.

“About 25% of the grant funds will go to expanding the “Fireplace Room” by removing an existing interior wall to provide for additional display area and to allow this room to also serve as a meeting room for lectures and demonstrations,” said O’Reilly. “The remainder of the funds will be primarily for technology upgrades – video displays in each public room; new computers; video recording equipment, etc.”