The Mission of Preservation Chelsea

It is our mission to preserve Chelsea as a village rich with history and charm, reflected by historic buildings, surrounding farmlands, and as found in our beautiful and vibrant village center. We aim to work through education, offering to ourselves and the community the history of Chelsea as well as the issues shaping our future. We intend actively to preserve historic landmarks and to have a voice in all issues that affect any possible de-centralization of our village. It is our intention to pursue this mission with full involvement and input from merchants and citizens of Chelsea and to act in ways that make sense for the preservation of Chelsea's charm and historic integrity while supporting a vibrant and successful downtown.

Federal Screw Works

Federal Screw Works
This property has been under threat of total demolition since 2008--there are historically signficant and architecturally interesting sections that should be preserved!

Jackson Street Panorama

Jackson Street Panorama
The DDA voted at the meeting on 9.20.12 to demolish the Daniels Addition Car Showroom despite the letter from the State Historic Preservation Office. (please read below)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fact Sheet - Longworth Complex / The Chelsea Connection

Fact Sheet – Longworth Complex / The Chelsea Connection

History and Significance of Site: The “Longworth Complex” refers to a series of three connected structures, adjacent to the intersection of the Michigan Central Railroad tracks and Chelsea’s Main Street. These three structures exemplify the industrial, commercial, and transportation history of our community, our state, and indeed our nation.  The buildings include the circa 1901 home of the Chelsea Manufacturing Company, today known as the “Mack Building”; the Chelsea House Livery Feed and 10 Cent Barn, built in 1906 and used as a horse and auto livery into the 1920s; and the Daniels Motor Sales showroom, dating from the 1940s.   The first hotel in Chelsea, now a farmers’ supply store, is next to the complex, and the Victorian railroad depot adjoins the complex as well. According to Janet Greenstein Potter, nationally-known scholar of railroad stations, Chelsea is extraordinary in that the livery, the first hotel, and the depot all remain in context. The Longworth Complex boasts a range of architectural styles, from rustic, site-cast concrete blocks to Victorian brick industrial to Art Moderne. The Longworth family purchased the Mack Building with the attached car showroom and the Livery in 1952, and the complex served as the home of the family’s chrome plating business for fifty years, through three generations of family ownership. The historical significance of the property has been recognized by a grant from the MotorCities National Heritage Area.

Current Circumstances: The City of Chelsea purchased the complex in 2008, and the buildings are currently vacant. At a community forum held in April 2009, Chelsea citizens voted overwhelming for the only option (of four presented by the DDA) that retained any of the structures. Many comments expressing a desire to save more than just one of the buildings were made by citizens at the Town Hall meeting. Despite this indication of community desire to save the buildings, some DDA members and business leaders prefer demolition. We believe that revitalizing the Longworth site as The Chelsea Connection would bring many benefits to our community. It would retain these tangible reminders of our economic and social history, contributing to a sense of place and unique identity that is important for residents and visitors alike. The location of the site makes it a critical link between the Main Street business district south of the railroad tracks and the Clocktower redevelopment to the north.

Since the summer of 2009 when the buildings were first threatened with demolition, a citizens’ advocacy group has been working to save them. We have spread the word about the historical importance of the buildings, as well as submitted a plan for adaptive reuse in response to a Request for Proposals that was issued by the DDA. The DDA has extended the deadline for responses to July 15, 2010.

What You Can Do: To become involved in the effort to revitalize these buildings as The Chelsea Connection, please contact: Tom Girard at 475-3632, Michelle McClellan at 475-7565, or Jan Bernath t 475-5753. All are welcome – no specialized skills needed. You can also let your elected representatives on City Council and DDA members know that you want to preserve this important legacy of Chelsea’s history, not destroy it. You can also convey to city leaders the need for full transparency and citizen input as they make important decisions that will have permanent consequences affecting us all.

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