Things To Do In Chelsea, MI – A Walking Tour Part One

Chelsea is just a twenty minutes drive west of the vibrant college town of Ann Arbor which is renowned for being the home to the University of Michigan. If you have visited the area, chances are that you have been to at least one of the two scenic open spaces which are collectively located to the west and north of Chelsea.

As for the town itself, it is a charming small town that is rich in history. There are many buildings that are of significant importance to Chelsea. So, one of the best things to do in Chelsea, MI is to take a walking tour. The walking tour is self-guided, but you can make use of a map to help you find your way during the tour.

You can view the map by heading here. Just know that you will largely be spending time in the downtown area. So, it should be easy to navigate during the tour. I will walk you through the buildings you will encounter on this tour. But, because there are so many buildings to cover as a part of this tour, I figured that I would divide this into two posts. So, consider this to be the first of two posts focused on the Chelsea walking tour.

(Photo courtesy of Andrew Jameson via Wikimedia)

Chelsea Historical Museum

Your first stop on the walking tour is the Chelsea Historical Museum. It is located on Jackson Street on the south side of the railroad track. This is one of the oldest house built in Chelsea. It was built in 1853 by Mial M. Boyd who was a wagon maker. He owned a wagon shop on North Street. This building now houses a small museum that explores the rich history of Chelsea.

Chelsea Train Depot

The Chelsea Train Depot is located across Jackson Street from the Chelsea Historical Museum. It was built in 1880 by Michigan Central Railroad which owned the railroad track that passes through town. It was noted for its triple-gabled windows on both ends of the building which allowed for views of incoming trains.

Once upon a time, the train depot was used to transport wool via train from Chelsea to all over the country. That helped the town to become one of the largest distributors of wool in the United States. The train depot continued to be in use until the early 1980’s. Today, the building houses a community center.

Chelsea Farmers Supply

Chelsea Farmers Supply is located next door to the west from the Chelsea Historical Museum. It was built in 1853. That makes this one of the oldest commercial buildings in Chelsea. It once housed a hotel called Chelsea House Hotel. It is now a feed store which has been operating since 1926 under various owners.

Mack Building

Continuing west to the intersection of Jackson and Main Streets just before the railroad crossing, you will find a triangle-shaped building called the Mack Building. It was built in 1900 by entrepreneur, A. R. Welch. It once housed the Chelsea Manufacturing Company which was a factory where several Welch automobiles were made.

Clock Tower

(Photo courtesy of F. D. Richards via Flickr)

The Clock Tower is located just across the railroad track from the Mack Building. This is the most recognizable building in all of Chelsea because of the clock tower that looms over downtown Chelsea. It was built in 1907 and housed Glazier Stove Works. It was noted at the time for the production and shipment of what was considered the brightest and best oil stoves.

They were shipped all over the US and South America. The Clock Tower also housed a 30,000 gallon wooden water tank. The building now houses numerous offices and business. There is also a lovely courtyard behind the building where you can enjoy music, art, and celebrations.

Chelsea Milling Co.

(Photo courtesy of Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia)

Looking across Main Street from the Clock Tower, you will find the Chelsea Milling Co. It is recognizable by its towering silos and the JIFFY lettering. It is renowned for its JIFFY brand of baking mixes which are produced there and then shipped around the world. The JIFFY brand was first introduced in 1930 by Mabel Holmes with her biscuit mix. You can even take a tour of the company.

Welfare Building

Located to the southeast of the Clock Tower on the north side of the railroad track lies the Welfare Building. When the Clock Tower was a working factory for making oil stoves, they had workers who commuted from Detroit for work. So, they needed somewhere fun to be after work and that was where the Welfare Building came in. It once housed a swimming pool, a basketball court, a billiard room, a theater, and a reading room.

La Maison

La Maison is located at the northeastern corner of the intersection of Main and Middle Streets. It was built in either 1878 or 1880. It is noted for its French-inspired decor brimming with comfortable furnishings and fabrics. The building is currently home to a home decor shop.

Zou Zou’s Cafe

Located opposite Main Street from La Maison is Zou Zou’s Cafe. The building that now houses the French themed restaurant was once home to Chelsea’s first bank. It also housed a drug store near the front entrance. The building was built in 1870 and was known as the Glazier Bank Drug Store.

The Potting Shed

The Potting Shed is located just to the west of the Zou Zou’s Cafe building on West Middle Street. It was constructed in 1882 or 1883. It once housed the seat of Chelsea’s government. It also housed an opera theater. The building currently houses a gift shop simply called the Potting Shed.

Global Marketplace

The Global Marketplace is located across Middle Street to the southwest from The Potting Shed. It was built in 1915 and once housed a blacksmith called the Hirth Blacksmith Shop. It is currently home to a shop called the Global Marketplace which sells fair trade products from around the world.

The building is notable for its embedded iron rings which are hung on the walls. These were installed by blacksmith Simon Hirth back in the old days for securing the horses.

This about covers the first half of the buildings that you will encounter during the walking tour of Chelsea. I will cover the second half soon in my next post. So, I would suggest that you stay tuned for that if you are planning to do the walking tour as one of the things to do in Chelsea, MI.

The Hotel

Now, if you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight at in Chelsea, I have got you covered here. Here is a hotel I would suggest for you.

Baymont by Wyndham Chelsea

This hotel is located just a short distance south of downtown Chelsea near Interstate 94. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, you can find Thompson’s Pizzeria, Uptown Coney Island, and Arctic Breakaway Restaurant & Bar all located near the hotel. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and fitness center available at the hotel for you to use.

All of the rooms and suites at the hotel come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $88 to $160. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning on touring Chelsea? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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