Compiled by Jean Chronic, 1996
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,
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.
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.