PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM    

                               THE BRADLEY HOUSE  & THE HOFFMAN ANNEX        

 

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The campus of the Presque Isle County Historical Museum includes two buildings, the 1914 Bradley House and the Henry and Margaret Hoffman Annex, located across Michigan Avenue from the Bradley House and acquired by the museum in 2011.  The Bradley House contains a wide variety of exhibits and a work and storage area used by the museum’s staff and volunteers.  The Hoffman Annex includes a number of exhibits, the museum’s gift shop and bookstore, the King Genealogical Research Room, the Gene Heinzel Library of military books, a document and photographic file room that has a high tech fire suppression system, and offices and work areas for staff and volunteers.

 

"The Bradley House" 

The expansive home that houses the Presque Isle County Historical Museum was built in 1913 and 1914 by George Radtke, a local contractor and sawmill operator.  The home is a “craftsman style,” or “arts and crafts style” bungalow.  There are many craftsman style homes in Rogers City, but this is by far the largest.

                George Radtke died very unexpectedly in December of 1914.  The following year, Mrs. Radtke—the former Isabel Larke—sold the home to J. L. Marsters, general superintendent of the Michigan Limestone & Chemical Company, which had begun operating a limestone quarry and processing plant at Rogers City in 1912.  There is no evidence that Marsters and his wife ever moved into the home.  Six months later, Marsters sold the home to Carl D. Bradley, his boss and general manager of Michigan Limestone and its Calcite Transportation subsidiary. 

                Even though the house was almost new, Bradley made some extensive modifications to it before he and his wife Emma moved in.  An addition to the east side of the house included a new kitchen and two maid’s rooms with an adjoining bathroom.  Two rooms at the back of the house were converted to guest bedrooms that were separated by a shared bath.  Upstairs, the usable space was significantly increased by adding dormers that ran the full length on both the front and back of the house.  The west end of the second floor was occupied by a spacious master suite that included a sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom.  A second large bedroom and adjoining bath occupied the east end of the second floor and were used by Fred Bradley, Carl Bradley’s son, who was a high school students at the time.  The renovations also included construction of a two-car garage, the yard was fenced, and extensive landscaping was done.

                By the time the alterations had been completed, the home had seven bedrooms, four baths, and three sun porches.  While that might seem excessive for the three members of the Bradley household, the Bradley’s also entertained many visitors in their home.  Mr. Bradley was reportedly not enamored with the accommodations at local hotels, so persons visiting Calcite were often invited to stay with the Bradley’s. 

                Interestingly, the yard was much smaller then.  The house had been built at the very back of the lot owned by George Radtke.  There was just enough room behind the house for a driveway that led from 4th Street to the garage.  On the other side of the driveway was a rental home that was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Reinke, Sr.  That home was eventually purchased by Michigan Lime and moved to Calcite Road, creating a backyard for the Bradley house.  The pipe sticking out of the ground near the 4th Street side of the backyard was the water line to the Reinke house.

In 1920, United States Steel purchased a controlling interest in Michigan Lime, and they made Mr. Bradley president of the company.  He also served as president of the company’s fleet.  The fleet was then made up of three freighters, the Calcite, W. F. White, and Carl D. Bradley.  They operated as the Bradley Transportation Line, named in his honor.

                Carl D. Bradley died very unexpectedly in the spring of 1928 while he and his wife were vacationing in California.  He was only 68 at the time.  Shortly after his death, Mrs. Bradley moved back to New York, where she had come from.

            From 1916 on, Bradley had a provision in his contract with Michigan Limestone that required them to purchase his properties in Presque Isle County if Bradley was to die or be fired.  Pursuant to that, Michigan Limestone purchased his home and other properties in the county, including Bradley’s “Calcite Farms” and extensive farmlands south of Rogers City. 

Carl D. Bradley 

                John G. Munson, who had been Bradley’s vice-president, took over as President of Michigan Limestone and the Bradley Fleet.  Munson, his wife, and their son and daughter occupied this home from 1928 until 1939.  Following Bradley’s death, U.S. Steel purchased all of the stock of both Michigan Limestone and Bradley Transportation, and they operated those companies as subsidiaries.  In 1939, U.S. Steel promoted Munson to vice-president for raw materials, and the Munson’s moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, headquarters for the giant steelmaker.



Mr. & Mrs. John G. Munson

                Irvin L. Clymer replaced Munson at Calcite.  He and Mrs. Clymer lived in this house from 1939 until 1950, when he left to head all of U.S. Steel’s limestone operations.



The Clymer Family - 1942

                By that time, U.S. Steel had reorganized its holdings, and moved the offices of Michigan Limestone and the Bradley fleet to Detroit.  The operations at Rogers City became U.S. Steel’s “Northern District.”  Joseph Valentin, a Rogers City native and long-time Calcite employee took over as manager of the Northern District.  He and his wife Josie and sons Joe, Junior and Jim lived in this home from 1950 until poor health forced his retirement in 1957.

The Valentin Family

                When John Suliot replaced Valentin as head of U.S. Steel’s Northern District in 1957, the company built a new, modern home for him and his family on Lake Street.   The homes on Lake Street, along with adjoining homes on First Street, and homes in the area of South Second Street, had all been built by Michigan Limestone for occupancy by company employees.  The residents of the homes on Lake Street were all managerial or technical employees at the plant or on ships of the Bradley fleet.

                With no further need for the stately old home, Michigan Limestone offered it to the county for use as the Presque Isle District Library.  It served as the library from 1957 until they outgrew the house in 1980.

                Michigan Limestone then offered to donate the historic building to the Presque Isle County Historical Museum.  In 1973, the Historical Society had purchased the former Schmekel residence at the corner of Second Street and Erie Street for use as a museum.  That museum opened on November 29, 1977.

                The museum opened in its new location here in the Bradley House on August 6, 1981.  While the building is now the “Presque Isle County Historical Museum,” it is commonly referred to in the community as “The Bradley House.”  Why that is the case is unclear, but Bradley was the first head of Michigan Lime to live in the house, and he lived here longer than any of the other Michigan Lime personnel.  Perhaps even more importantly, Mr. Bradley has always held a special place in the hearts of Rogers City residents.  Much of the success of Michigan Lime and Bradley Transportation is credited to his leadership.  He was also an active community leader and generous supporter of activities that benefited local residents.  Then, too, the tragic sinking in 1958 of the ship named in his honor indelibly linked Bradley to the people in our small community.


The Henry and Margaret Hoffman Annex

             The Annex was purchased by the museum in 2011.  A portion of the 5,100 square foot, one-floor building originally housed Erkfitz Plumbing & Heating.  During Rogers City’s Urban Renewal Program in the early 1970s, a large addition was constructed around the original building.  Over the years, it has housed a law office, medical offices, and a number of retail stores at various times.

            The Annex now houses the museum’s offices, the gift shop and bookstore, several permanent exhibits, and rooms that are used for temporary exhibits.  Permanent exhibits include the John Bunton Photographic Collection and the Calcite and Bradley Transportation Room.

            Visitors enter the exhibit areas through the museum’s gift shop and bookstore that carries a variety of Michigan products, including a number related to Northern Michigan.  The most popular part of the gift shop is the bookstore, featuring a variety of books about Michigan and the local area, including books in the museum’s own “Local History Book Series” and a number of other local history books written by local authors.  Since 2006, the museum has produced nine local history books including:

 

Nina Ferdelman’s Virgin Forests to Modern Homes

The Baby Boomers Guide to Rogers City

Baby Boomers II

Before the Baby Boomers

The Metz Fire of 1908

Calcite and the Bradley Boats

Harry:  The Life and Times of Harry Grambau

Presque Isle County, published by Arcadia Press

 Almost An Island:  Early Histories of the Lakeshore Settlements in Presque Isle County

            The office wing of the building includes a genealogical research room, dedicated in memory of Rogers City native Wayne King.  It contains an extensive collection of genealogical information on present and former Rogers City people and genealogical reference works that include the Presque Isle County Advance and Onaway Outlook, Calcite Screenings, and guides to cemeteries in the county.

            The document and photographic file room contains the museum’s extensive collection of document files on topics related to the county and the museum’s photographic collections.  The photographic collections include the 32,000-image Calcite Collection, the 20,000-image Leona and James Stewart Collection, the Ferris Parsons Collection, the Clifford Brege Collection, and numerous smaller collections.

            In 2014, the file room was equipped with a “clean” fire suppression system through the generosity of former Rogers City resident Eunice Krueger Pines.  If a fire was to break out in the building, the fire suppression system would extinguish the fire by replacing the oxygen in the room with a gas that does not support combustion.  The system would leave no residue that would cause damage to either documents or photographs stored in the room.

 

   
 

Webmaster  Rich Warwick