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The Historic Homes is a rehabilitation project of four structures that represent over 150 years of the city's historical development. These four structures include the John Johnston House, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft House, Bishop Frederic Baraga House, and Kemp Coal Dock Office Building. These buildings represent important people and events in which the city is best known for. The three residences are especially significant and the local community over the past 50 years has made efforts to preserve these structures.

The Schoolcraft House and the Baraga House were moved from their original sites in the 1980's in an attempt to preserve them. The Johnston House, the oldest of the buildings, is located approximately where it was built originally. The Kemp Coal Dock Office is the youngest of the buildings and has been moved from its original site a short distance but it remained on the property of the Kemp business until it was donated to the City. The Baraga House was moved twice before its present location. The house originally was on Portage Street close to the St. Mary's church two blocks away. The Schoolcraft house came from the farthest distance. This house was originally located east of the basin of the Edison Sault Power Canal and was moved to Water Street by barge on the St. Mary's River.

JOHN JOHNSTON HOUSE

The first preservation efforts were for the John Johnston House, which was the home of the Irish-born fur trader John Johnston, his wife, who was a Chippewa, O-Zhaw-Guscoday-Way-Qua (also known as Susan) and their family. The house was originally built in 1815 with the existing section added in 1823. The house was known for its colonial cedar log construction and its association with colorful individuals in the early Euroamerican settlement of Sault Ste. Marie. In the 1940's the City purchased the neglected house from Great Lakes Towing Company. The driveway between the Johnston and Schoolcraft House that leads to the towing company is still a reminder of the towing company's ownership of the Johnston property.

The building has been a house museum that was common of historic structures in the early to mid-twentieth century. Open mainly in the summer and now by appointment only, the house requires substantial restoration to make it accessible to the public once again.

HENRY ROWE SCHOOLCRAFT HOUSE

The Henry Rowe Schoolcraft House was built in 1827 as both the home of Mr. Schooolcraft and his wife, Jane, the daughter of John Johnston, and as the Indian Agency headquarters. Elmwood, as the house was referred to because of the surrounding elms, was the most high style building in the area. Obed Wait built the house and he also constructed the courthouse in Detroit, which was Michigan's capitol until 1847.

Originally from New York, the Territorial Governor, Lewis Cass, as the first Indian agent in the region, appointed Schoolcraft in 1822. The family lived in the house until 1833 when the Indian agency office was moved to Mackinac Island. Several families lived in this home including Charles T. Harvey, who built the St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal. The building was remodeled in the nineteenth Century from its simple Federal design to a Queen Anne type style with projecting bays and porches. In the early twentieth century, the building was used as an office and then was vacant for decades under the ownership of Union Carbide Company. The building received a new roof and underwent reconstruction of the east dependency. All of the later Queen Anne remodeling was removed at this time, with the intention of restoring the original Federal design of the house.

BISHOP FREDERIC BARAGA HOUSE

The Baraga House was built in 1864 as the home of Bishop Frederic Baraga, who had been consecrated Bishop of the new diocese that included Sault Ste. Marie as its seat in 1853. Bishop Baraga only spent seventeen months in the house because he moved the seat of diocese to Marquette in 1866. The building was then used as a school and convent until 1898, having been moved in 1884 to make way for a new parochial school. It was also used to house parish staff (with a second move in the early 1950's) until it was donated to Historic Sites and finally moved to its present location in 1986. There was construction in the late 1980's to replace the 1884 porch that did not survive the move.

KEMP COAL DOCK OFFICE BUILDING

The Kemp Coal Dock Office Building was built in 1903 for the Kemp Coal Company, which was a thriving shipping company on the St. Mary's River. The Kemp Company

 

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