In 1848, Chelsea pioneers James and Elisha Congdon offered a swath of land to the Michigan Central Railroad for a depot, and the gift was repaid with the birth of a prosperous village. The surviving architecture from Chelsea's early days ranges from early-nineteenth-century Greek Revival farmhouses to elegant Italianate storefronts and Victorian-era industrial enterprises.
Thanks to its theater, dining, shopping downtown, and nearby recreational opportunities, the city has become a regional destination. Though many old brick buildings are home to antique and interior design shops, downtown Chelsea still includes essential supplies for residents.
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