About the Chippewa County Historical Society
The Chippewa County Historical Society (CCHS) is a nonprofit organization committed to the preservation and presentation of the history and culture of Chippewa County and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
CCHS promotes public awareness of local history by sponsoring artistic and cultural activities.
CCHS operates a History Center that will be a vibrant place where people may encounter, explore, and learn about the past. It houses a Gift Shop, a display area, meeting area, office/library space, and the Society’s collections.
History of the Society
The Chippewa County Historical Society (CCHS) was formed in 1919, with Gov. Chase S. Osborn as one of the founding members. CCHS has displayed its collections in different small museums and the local public library in Sault Ste. Marie over the years. The organization installed area historic markers, published pamphlets, oral histories, and books on local history. After a period of inactivity, the society was revived in 1994, by a group of local history enthusiasts and has continued to thrive. In 1997, the society established an office in downtown rental space and started a number of projects that promoted the area’s history through: photo displays, hosting meeting with speakers on various topics, and started working with the City of Sault St. Marie in providing programs and displays at the Historic Water Street Homes.
In 2006, an important objective of the Society was realized when it purchased the historic building at 115 Ashmun Street as a permanent home for the Society. By 2007, the first floor of the building was renovated, and the collections and the operational offices of the Society were moved in. Over the years the membership and participation has grown substantially and the CCHS has become a significant contributor to the historic revitalization of the community.
News Building History
The CCHS building, at 115 Ashmun Street, designed by architect Clarence J. Johnson and built in 1889 at a cost of $16,000, originally housed Chase S. Osborn’s Sault Ste. Marie News. The newspaper, renamed the Evening News, was there until 1924, when it moved to its present location. The Edison Sault Electric Company had offices in the building soon after 1900, purchased the building in 1924, and remained there until the 1960s. The Sault Alternative High School tenanted the building from the mid-1970s until 2003. CCHS purchased the building in June 2006. As of the end of 2013, the final payment has been made and the building is now solely owned by the CCHS. Plans for façade restoration are scheduled for 2014.
The original portion of the building has three stories and is 50 feet wide. It has elements of Romanesque Revival – rusticated stonework, textured brickwork, massiveness, arched window and door openings, and thick walls – it is probably the best surviving commercial example in Sault Ste. Marie. The façade has a lower level of rusticated sandstone, and upper levels of brick. The Jacobsville sandstone is from Portage Entry, according to Kathryn Bishop Eckert, in The Sandstone Architecture of the Lake Superior Region (2000). The building is listed in this book, as well as in An Architectural Survey of the Eastern Upper Peninsula (1977), co-written by Eckert and Sadayoshi Omoto. A one-story addition was added to the back of the building in the early 1900s and a second one-story addition was added in the 1990s. The upper stories of the original building were damaged by a fire in the 1980s and are currently in need of renovation.
2016-17 Board of Directors
Mary M. June
Bob Aldrich, Jim Dwyer, Dennis Hank, Patty Olsen, Carolyn Person, Janet Russell, Karen Sabatine.