An overview of Chelsea’s history

Chelsea, Michigan has its roots in the 1834 establishment of Sylvan Township, named for its beautiful wooded terrain.  Small hamlets such as Sylvan Center, Davidson Station, Pierceville, and Kedron once surrounded today’s City of Chelsea.  In 1850, the U.S. Post Office officially changed the name of the northern hamlet of Kedron to Chelsea, which then became the main village in Sylvan Township.

Click to explore Chelsea’s Downtown Historical Tour

South Main at Middle Street looking north in the 1890s. (source:

The founders of Chelsea are the Congdon brothers, Elisha, James, and David. In 1850, the Congdon brothers enticed the Michigan Central Railroad to construct a small passenger and freight depot in the village, and along with the prominent north-south wagon trail, steady growth occurred. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Chelsea was the largest produce market in the county and shipped the most wool than anywhere else in the state. It was also a thriving mercantile and industry center with many of the elements of these early businesses still visible today on Main Street, such as the renovated Glazier Stove Company buildings in the Clocktower Complex. Oil heaters and stoves, automobiles, motorcycles, cords and wires, ball bearings, screw machines, prepared baking mixes, and more have been produced in the industries of Chelsea.

People make the community, and Chelsea is fortunate to have a number of generational families with deep roots in the area. Early influential citizens, such as Elisha Congdon, Darius Pierce, Harmon S. Holmes, Charles Kempf, and Frank Glazier donated land for schools and churches; were active in emerging village, township, and state legislature; created lasting commerce and industry; and constructed landmark buildings that still grace Chelsea’s landscape.  Today, the remarkably intact historic architecture of the downtown and nearby residential areas contributes substantially to Chelsea’s charm, walkability, and sense of community.  The downtown business district, dominated by brick commercial Italianate structures built during the late nineteenth century, has recently been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Whether you are looking to stroll quaint Victorian neighborhoods, view historical Main Street architecture at its best, or delve deeper into the history of small town America, Chelsea has it to offer.

South Main at Middle Street decades later (Source:

SOURCE: Thanks to the Chelsea Area Historical Society for providing this information!

Comments are closed.