Chelsea Area Historical Museum Events to Shine a Light on Local History


The Mack Building as it is today.

From Chelsea Area Historical Society

The Chelsea Area Historical Society and Museum are planning two September events to share information about Chelsea’s unique architectural ancestry.

First up, “Insiders Look at the Old Mack/New Agricole Building."

Joe Ziolkowski, Chelsea developer and visionary, will share how he and his wife Abby Hurst transitioned an old historic building to a beautiful new business home. While doing so, Ziolkowski was able to preserve much of the building’s history, which began in 1903 as a manufacturing site for the Welch car.

Ziolkowski will share the story of how he collaborated with the city and state for funding from various sources to create Agricole, an asset for the city and shoppers,” said Jan Bernath, president of the Chelsea Area Historical Museum. “This is a win-win story about Joe's tenacity and collaboration. It’s a good model for future projects that involve our historic buildings.”

The Mack Building before renovation.

Following Ziolkowski’s Monday, September 12, at 7 pm presentation at the Chelsea Depot, attendees will walk over to tour the main floor of Agricole’s home in the Mack Building.

Registration for this program is through email ( or by phone (734.476.2010). The event is free for CAHS members. A $5 donation is suggested for nonmembers.

Later in the month, the CAHS is partnering with the Chelsea District Library for a program designed to help homeowners discover the stories of their homes. “Become a House History Sleuth” will be held on Tuesday, September 27, at 6 pm in the library’s McKune Room.

“We get so many people asking for the histories of their homes,” said Bernath, “Unfortunately, we just don’t have the volunteers to do this type of research. That’s how we came up with this idea: We should show people how they can do their own sleuthing.”

She adds that people should know the process can be long, but it is a labor of love and can be so satisfying. Co-presenter Shawn Personke, communications chair for the museum, agrees. After several years of fits and starts, Personke found most of the answers she was looking for… and many surprises.

“It was a lot of work, but so worth it,” said Personke. “We discovered our home built around 1911 by the Kantlehner family. We found that the oldest living Civil War veteran died in our home, and that the owners of the Grove dime store lived there for 30 years.”

Personke adds, “Perhaps more fun, though, was trolling through the old Chelsea newspapers where I found out that ‘our neighbor’ Mr. Staffan added a bathroom to their Main Street home in 1913. And our other 1913 neighbor, Mr. Richards ‘had a cement floor poured for his carriage house.’”

At this workshop, Personke, Bernath, and the Chelsea District LIbrary’s Gabrielle Hopkins will share tips and resources for uncovering details such as prior owners, when a home was sold, aerial views of property throughout the years, anecdotal stories of a neighborhood, and telephone numbers for previous residents.

Registration for "Become a Home History Sleuth” is through the library’s website,, or by visiting the library.

Insiders Look at the Old Mack/New Agricole Building

Monday, September 12, 7 pm.

At the Chelsea Depot

Registration is requested via email ( or by phone (734.476.2010). The event is free for CAHS members. A $5 donation is suggested for nonmembers.

Become a Home History Sleuth

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 6 pm.

Chelsea District Library

Registration is required at

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, 128 Jackson St., across from the Chelsea Depot. For more information, visit or call 734.476.2010.

Photos courtesy of CAHS

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