The Grand Ledge Area Historical Society Museum is housed in the Pratt-Shearer Cottage at 118 W. Lincoln Street. This gothic cottage was built in 1880 by Byron S. Pratt, a local minister. Originally it was built at the corner of W. Railroad (later renamed Lincoln) and Harrison Streets. About twenty years later, c1900, D. D. Shane, local jeweler and ophthalmologist, bought the home and moved it over into the lot next door. He then built his much larger home on the corner lot. Purchased by Mary Shearer in the 1940s this was her home for several decades. Late in life, she sold her home to the United Methodist Church, who then gave her a life-lease to the property. After her death the Church rented the home until 1983. In 1984 the Church donated the building to the Historical Society for use as a museum.
The building with its high pitched roof and tall gables is a classic example of Gothic architecture common during the 1870s in Grand Ledge. As popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing in the 1850s, Gothic Revival Buildings were meant to be picturesque and often symmetrical. No doubt inspired by pattern books of the time, this home features overhanging truncated gables with ginger-bread trim. The floor plan is in a “T” shape common in gothic cottages.
When the home was built, you would enter into a sitting room, with a door on your left into the parlor. Off the sitting room was a door leading into the dining room behind. The dining room featured two windows and a door to a side porch that originally faced Harrison Street. Tucked in next to the dining room is the small kitchen with built in pantry cupboard. Outside the Kitchen is the back porch. Once open, it has since been enclosed and features a weighted trap door to access the cellar. Off the sitting room was a door to a step stairway upstairs. The home had three bedrooms.
We know that sometime in the 1920s there was a fire in the home. This fire damaged the interior causing a major renovation. The cottage was modernized during this time in the Craftsman style. The wall diving the sitting room and parlor was removed and the small door into the dining room was opened up into a wide open doorway–creating a very open floor plan. The steep stairway was rebuilt with a landing which turned and ended in the sitting room. The dining room window facing the backyard was closed up. The back bedroom was converted into a bathroom and a closet. Finally all the windows, doors and woodwork in the building were replaced. All these changes have created a very interesting building with the exterior Gothic and the interior Craftsman. The garage also dates from this time and is a wonderful example of an early double garage.
When the Historical Society acquired the building, the front could not be seen. The entire building was hidden behind huge yew bushes that went up to the room. Only a small gap lead to the darkened porch. The pealing paint was green with yellow highlights on the gable “teeh”. The bushes were removed and the exterior painted in two shades of green with a burgundy accent. The inside was cleaned, painted, stenciled and made ready for its opening on May 20,1984. In 2002 the Society replaced the missing side porch off the dining room, equipping it for wheel chair access. An herb garden has been planted between the back porch and the garage. A carriage block and hitching posted where added by the curb.