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Onaway Historic Courthouse (Onaway City Hall)

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Onaway City Hall
1908; 2000–present restoration, Wigen, Tincknell, Meyer and Associates. 20774 State St.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

The county courthouse was built by Merritt Chandler (b. 1843), a lumberman who constructed roads and cleared swamps in exchange for grants of public land under the Swamp Lands Act. He speculated in Presque Isle County land and real estate, promoted Onaway, and was also involved in an ill-fated attempt to establish Onaway as the county seat. In 1908 he constructed this building and offered it to the county at no cost, but his offer was rejected. He then tried to create a new county, with Onaway as the county seat, a scheme that was declared illegal. After a bitter fight, the county seat remained in Rogers City and Chandler donated his courthouse to the city.

The design combines elements from the monumental work of H. H. Richardson in a two-and-a-half-story building of rusticated concrete blocks set on a high fieldstone base. It has an asymmetrical facade with a massive tower on the southwest side, a raised pedimented portico, and a large round arch over the entrance. Today the Onaway City Hall, library, chamber of commerce, and Onaway Area Historical Museum occupy the building.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Onaway Historic Courthouse (Onaway City Hall)", [Onaway, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 458-458.

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