Grice House Museum
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|Travel back through time into the Grice House, which has been furnished entirely by donated items from numerous area families to depict life in this part of Huron County, Michigan in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
The Grice House was built by James G. Grice, who immigrated to the United States from Lancashire, England with his wife, Jane, in 1850 with five of his seven sons and one daughter to Windsor, Connecticut. In 1856 the family moved to Forester, Michigan (Sanilac County) where James G. took a position as engineer in a saw mill. James G. later built a shingle-mill at Sand Beach (now named Harbor Beach) in Huron County Michigan. Later he moved to Verona (between Harbor Beach and Bad Axe) and built a flour mill. He owned a section of land one third mile northwest of Sand Beach. He was interested in a salt block at Port Hope with His son, James P. Grice. Joseph G. Grice, the third son, was foreman of the Government Works at Sand Beach (the breakwall). In 1884 Joseph sold his interest in the flour mill to move to Sand Beach.
The Grice House is an L-shaped, one-and-one-half-story home illustrating two generations of construction represented by a wood-framed and clapboard-sheathed section built about 1875 and an fieldstone section built in 1884. Vernacular in design but reflecting a subtle Gothic influence, the home features balanced fenestration created by rounded arch windows, both a front and back porch, a back storage ell, and intersecting gable roofs with eaves lines interrupted by steeply pitched secondary gables. Inside, a hardwood floor, wood baseboards, and plaster walls and ceilings finish the rooms.
The Grice House is associated with several generations of the Grice family who were significant to the development and continued growth of Harbor Beach and reflects a level of craftsmanship and local style significant to the architectural heritage of Michigan. Although Sand Beach (now Harbor Beach) lost its position as the Huron County seat after a fire destroyed the courthouse in 1864, it continued to grow as a community based on lumbering, agricultural, and maritime industries.
James and Jane Grice came to the village of Sand Beach in about 1874 and constructed the frame portion of the house. James owned a shingle mill in the town and the Grice home was located on his farm property. After a fire destroyed the mill in 1881, the family moved to the nearby community of Verona, but James and Jane's son Joseph remained, acquiring the farm property and constructing the stone portion of the house. Joseph served as foreman of the break wall at Sand Beach. The home remained in the ownership of the Grice family until 1962.
In the 1960s, with the last Grice descendent deceased, the city of Harbor Beach purchased the property to settle the estates of James and Jane Grice, and leased to the Grice House Heritage Association as a museum and cultural center.
The museum was listed on the National Register on November 12, 1982. The national registry of Historic Places id is 82000534. It was listed on the State Registry November 3, 1976. The site id number is P23300.
The museum complex now includes the house itself, the old Adam's schoolhouse moved from the outskirts in the county, and a pole barn that houses larger displays. Special exhibit areas include a Marine Room, Sewing Room, Industrial Room, military room, agricultural machinery and implements, and the reconstructed 1800s-era schoolhouse. The museum houses almost 2000 artifacts throughout the three museum buildings, which also exhibits agricultural machinery and implements.
Early exhibits include a pump organ donated by Gladys Seither, a large handmade loom by Henry Roots, and an interesting collection of pioneer type tools from Albert Frank.
By the summer of 1981, the tremendous response from people in the community had made it possible to furnish the kitchen, living room, tool room, and one bedroom.
The following year saw the Marine Room take shape. The original forth order Fresnel lens of the Harbor Beach Lighthouse was built in France in 1884, and was removed from service in 1986.
A Sewing room, so named because of a large donation of clothes from Mrs. Eilber in Port Hope a beautiful spinning wheel given by Freda Will, and much more. The style clothes, pattern books, and accessories made this a fascinating exhibit.
The Industrial Room, the largest second story room in the nine room house, preserves the early industrial history of Harbor Beach.
The museum also features a collection of farm equipment in a pole barn erected in 1984, next to the house.
The Adams one room school house was move to the site in 1988.
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