PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM    

                               THE BRADLEY HOUSE  & THE HOFFMAN ANNEX        

 

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Carl D. Bradley

 
 
 

 

Compiled by Jean Chronic, 1996

Revised, 2007

             This information was acquired by researching old records in the museum, and through a telephone discussion with Joan Grant.  Joan, along with Jean Veselenak and Margaret Foley, was one of the key people who “made it happen,” who spearheaded the effort to secure the financial support and find a building for a local museum.

            Over the first 125 years, Rogers City and Presque Isle County are fortunate to have had many individuals and groups of citizens who had an abiding interest in recording the history and preserving artifacts of the area.

            On May 24, 1954, some of these people got together and formed the Presque Isle County Historical Society.  After two years, the group became dormant until 1964, at which time new officers and directors were elected and regular monthly meetings were held, usually in members’ homes.

            Minutes of the Society have been found in the museum, commencing with 1971, which showed the officers as Dr. Renwood Flagg, chairman; Rev. Herman Heinecke, vice chairman; Nina McLennan, treasurer; and Marie Garratt, secretary.  Other officers of the Society during the ensuing years were Emma Schmekel, Mrs. Herbert Nagel, Anna Nagel, Herbert Nagel, and Dorothea Bingle.  Each held various offices throughout the 1970s and 1980s, until the Society decided on October 27, 1988, to close their books and turn their assets over to the Presque Isle County Historical Auxiliary, as it was known at the time.

            In 1971, the Historical Society asked Jean Veselenak to research the possibility of acquiring a house that was scheduled to be demolished as part of the Urban Renewal program that was taking place in Rogers City at that time.  The purpose was to use the house as a museum, and a committee was formed in early 1972 to develop a plan.  In November of that year, Joan Grant reported to the Historical Society, on behalf of the auxiliary, that she and Margaret Foley had developed a charter and plans for a museum, and it was recommended to purchase the Emma Schmekel house at the corner of Second and Erie streets for $9,000.  On March 8, 1973, the Presque Isle Historical Museum Society gave $50 to be used as earnest money to secure the purchase until the board could raise the balance of the funds.  The 1971 Centennial Committee had in its treasury a balance of $11,000, and they offered the Museum Committee $9,000 for the purchase of the building.

            On March 13, 1973, Joan Grant showed the Presque Isle County Historical Society board the interior of the house that was to become the first home of the Presque Isle County Historical Museum.  Joan Grant announced the acquisition of the building and reported on a meeting with Donald Lister and Father Adalbert Narloch to receive a number of items from the Larke Estate.  Those items were to form the nucleus of the museum’s exhibits.

            On November 29, 1977, the doors of the old Schmekel house were opened as the Presque Isle County Historical Museum, Inc.  The original board consisted of Margaret Foley, president; Joan Grant, vice president; James Quinn, vice president; Edith Miller, secretary; and Mrs. Eugene Lingo, treasurer.

            On September 21, 1978, a fire swept through the museum, resulting in a great deal of smoke and water damage, but the building and most of the contents were saved.  Through the cooperation of many residents and museum members, the damage was cleaned up and the museum remained at the location until the museum was moved to its present location in 1981.

            In 1980, U.S. Steel gave the property at the corner of 4th Street and Michigan Avenue, now known as the “Bradley House,” to the Presque Isle County Historical Museum, Inc.  The building had been built in 1911 by George Radka as a home for his wife, Isabel Larke Radka, and their family.  After completion, they resided there until his death in December of 1914.  Shortly after that, Mrs. Radka sold the home to Michigan Limestone and Chemical Co.  After renovating the home, Mr. and Mrs. Carl D. Bradley and their son Fred took up residence.  Mr. Bradley was general manager of the Calcite Plant and the company’s fleet at that time.  In 1920, Bradley became the president of Michigan Limestone and president of Bradley Transportation, the company’s fleet subsidiary.  The Bradley’s lived in the home until his death in the spring of 1928. 

Upon Bradley’s death, John G. Munson took over as president, and he and his family moved into the home.  When Munson was promoted to Vice President of Raw Materials for U.S. Steel in 1939, Irvin L. Clymer succeeded him at Calcite.  The Clymer’s lived in the home until 1950, when he, too, was promoted to head all of U.S. Steel’s limestone mining operations throughout the U.S.  As the result of that management reorganization, the top management person at Calcite was the General Manager for the company’s Northern Division.  The first person to hold that position was Joseph Valentin, and the Valentin family lived in the home from 1950 until his retirement in 1957.

At that time, the company built a new, much more modern, but smaller home for Calcite’s General Manager.  The house was located on Lake Street, in an area of houses built by Michigan Limestone for their managerial and technical personnel.

In 1957, the Bradley House was loaned to the City of Rogers City and used as the County Library for 23 years.  By 1980, the library had outgrown the home, and they moved to a different location.

At that time, U.S. steel gave the house to the Presque Isle County Historical Museum, Inc.  The deed was presented to the museum’s board on September 11, 1980.  On August 6, 1981, the Bradley House opened as the new home of the Presque Isle County Historical Museum.

         The first curator was Mary Ann Morley, a native of Rogers City who was very instrumental in building the collection and caring for the house as though it was her own.  Until his death, her husband Jack was also helpful in maintaining the building and grounds.  Mary Ann retired from the museum in 1994, and Laural Maldonado, another Rogers City native was named curator.  She served until August of 2006, at which time Mark Thompson, a fourth generation resident of Rogers City, became curator.
In May of 2010, the Board of Trustees changed Mark's title to "Executive Director and Curator" to better reflect the actual duties he performs.

 

   
 

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