A visit to Concord, Michigan is a step back in time. Settled in 1831, the village came into its own in the late-19th century. The 1.66 square-mile village located 12 miles southwest of Jackson features narrow, tree-lined streets and Late Victorian era frame homes set on spacious lots. One such home, located east of downtown, is the historic Mann House.
Built by Daniel and Ellen Mann in 1883, the bright yellow clapboard and green trim home brought the successful farm family closer to the schools and to the social life of the rapidly growing village. The family became active in the community and were known for bringing in the latest technology. They installed the community’s first telephone in 1900 and added electricity and indoor plumbing around 1910.
Daniel and Ellen were both college educated, which was unusual for the time. They valued education and lifelong learning and encouraged both daughters to attend school and college. While only 10% of the American population had high school diplomas in 1900, the Mann daughters both graduated college with unusual degrees for women during the period. The eldest, Mary Ida, attended the Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) and focused on physical education. Jessie Ellen also attended the Michigan State Normal College, and in 1906, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. Both women became teachers.
Mary Ida and Jessie Ellen also traveled the world. On a trip to the Philippines to visit a distant relative in 1913, Mary Ida met her future husband, Charles Cady. The couple married in 1914 and lived in Manila and across the United States until Charles death in 1942. Jessie Ellen, who never married, traveled internationally and decorated the family home in Concord with souvenirs from the trips.
From the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, the sisters lived together, spending their summers in their family home. They made several renovations to the home over these decades, including an addition for a modern kitchen. In the 1950s, they began negotiating with the Michigan Historical Commission to maintain the home as a historic house museum. The state officially accepted the donation from the sisters’ estates in 1969 and opened the home to the public in October 1970.
Today, the historic Mann House looks and feels as if Mary Ida and Jessie Ellen just stepped out for a moment. All their belongings - from grandmother’s horsehair furniture to the family’s extensive library to the clothes in the closets – tell the stories of the independent, self-sufficient, forward-thinking women who lived in this house from 1883 to 1969. The home is open for guided tours each summer and admission is free.
Beautiful period furnishings help transport visitors back to the Victorian-era at the Mann House in Concord.
Every-day items, such as this telephone, are on display alongside items that sisters Mary Ida and Jessie Ellen Mann collected during their world travels.
Vintage clothing from the 1880s through the 1940s is on display throughout the house, all carefully preserved by the sisters.
Several well-preserved games, toys and children's books from various eras are on display at the Mann House, showing what children enjoyed in the late 19th and early 20th century.