Preservation

Weller School

Elisha Weller owned the land on which Chesterfield District Number 1 Fractional School was situated. In May 1831, Weller purchased three 80 acre parcels of farmland in what would become Chesterfield Township from the United States Government. To date, the earliest records found pertaining to the school date back to 1862. Classes were taught continuously in that school until 1954. With school consolidation, Weller School had become part of the L’Anse Creuse School District along with other “one room schools.” In 1954, the school district combined the students of Weller, Hartway, Bates, Milton, and several other schools in the newly built Chesterfield Elementary School on 23 Mile Road. The Odrobina family owned the schoolhouse for almost forty years and used it as a real estate office.

Log Cabin

Before being moved to its present location in 2005, the log cabin was located at 29 Mile Road and Campground Road in Washington Township. It was owned by Bob Neilsen’s family, and was the site of their annual get togethers. Bob’s father, Cortland Neilsen was a salesman living in Detroit with his family, and since the cabin was only about 45 minutes from home, he could use it to “get away.”

In 1939, when Bob was 9 years old, his father put in the foundation for the made-to-order home from Pioneer Log Cabin Company out of Roscommon, Michigan. With that done, the company put up the logs (no nails) in one day. The logs had been marked with numbers where they went, and were put together in a tongue and groove fashion. The walls and rafters were put up with sledge hammers. Mr. Neilsen installed the roof boards and the entire interior, including the partitions. Bob’s cousin and her husband painted the interior of the cabin with five coats of varnish. There was a fifty-foot flagpole installed outside the front door.

Electricity was never put in the cabin. The kitchen had an icebox and a wood-burning cook stove (similar to the stove that is in there now.) The original stove and some other pieces were donated to the Washington Historical Society and are on display in their museum. A high shelf in the kitchen was for the kerosene lamps at night so the kids would not touch them. The living room had a ten-foot table with two benches made out of one piece of log. An overhead lamp was hung from the beam above the table. Four people could sleep in the bedroom, and two more people slept on an army cot in the living room. When Bob’s mother became a widow in 1947, she and her two sisters would stay in the cabin for a week or so. His aunts were dressmakers in Detroit.

There was a strap hanging from the ceiling of the spiral outhouse (from one of the Detroit streetcars) to help you get up if you needed it. Bob’s father called on London Dairy in Port Huron, and he saw a spiral outhouse on Gratiot Avenue while on his was way to Port Huron (it might have been Muttonville). The pump house exterior was constructed so the cows couldn’t get in. The stonework was done by a Free Methodist Minister from a church in Romeo. The church he built in Romeo is still standing. On Sundays the family would go to the cabin for picnics. Sometimes the church (Danish Lutheran Church in Detroit-St. Peter’s) would also have picnics at the log cabin, and they would borrow chairs form the undertaker in Romeo.

 

Trinity Buildings

In 1955, Bernard and Ceola Trinity opened a neighborhood library in a small outbuilding on their property near the intersection of Cotton and Sugarbush Roads. Began as a hobby, the Bernard T. Trinity Neighborhood Library grew from 500 books to over 7,500 books and operated for over 36 years. In 1964, The Trinitys expanded the building to include a museum of local artifacts and memorabilia. This museum, The Trinity Historical Museum became a major tourist attraction in Macomb County, visited by 12,000 people each year. It was designed as a general store and its intent was to represent the general stores in Chesterfield Township during the period 1880 – 1930. The Trinitys continued to expand their historical collection and in 1967 began to build a historic village to depict life in the 1890s. The village, named “Heritage Acres,” included farm animals, a barn, a blacksmith shop and a cobbler shop. The library and museum closed in 1991.

The first addition to Heritage Acres was the barn. It was built in 1967. This barn was based on traditional barn designs of the era. Much of the construction was completed by James Harvey. Over the years, it housed many animals which delighted visitors to the museum.

The next addition was the cobbler and harness shop. This was built in 1969 by Bernard Trinity, Karl Karch (father of Ceola Trinity), and Philip Trinity (son of Bernard and Ceola). The shop was designed to demonstrate the manufacture and role of leather goods in the community, particularly shoes and horse harnesses. The bricks that were used for the floor of the cobbler/harness shop were salvaged

from the Chesterfield Green School which was built in 1920 and demolished around 1968. The salvaged bricks were hand cleaned by Philip Trinity.

The last addition to Heritage Acres was the blacksmith shop. This building was also constructed by Karl Karch, Bernard and Philip Trinity in 1970. The blacksmith played a vital role in any community, large or small. This is because the blacksmith supplied and repaired most iron products including plows, horse shoes, wagon parts, etc.

 

Kolping Chapel

Mary Boset was interested in the Kolping Society work and in 1929, she donated four acres of her property in Chesterfield Township for recreational purposes. Two years later, she donated additional acreage, contingent of a request to build a chapel as a wayside shrine. Ultimately, the nineteen-acre park had a pavilion, dance hall, rifle range, picnic shelter, parade grounds, playground, soccer filed, and parking lot.

In 1932, Father Joseph Wuest, pastor of old St. Mary’s Church in Detroit, the founder of the Detroit Chapter of the Kolping Society, complied with her request. The walls of the chapel were constructed of cement blocks, with the inside covered with chips of marble, granite, shells and other specimens which were requested by and send to Father Wuest from Kolping churches and Missions worldwide.

In 2015, when the Kolping Society decided to sell the park, the chapel was donated to the Chesterfield Historical Society. The wooden playscape, a meal swing and slide were also moved from Kolping Park to the historic village.