This impressive-looking courthouse with its clock tower stands in the northern Lower Peninsula town of Onaway. It was constructed in 1908 by Meritt Chandler and donated to the county in the hopes to take the county seat away from Rogers City. Merritt Chandler was born in 1843 near Adrian, Michigan. He made a fortune in lumbering and building roads. In 1886 he platted the village of Onaway. By 1903, Onaway had a population of 3000, making it the largest settlement in Presque Isle County. He was unable to have the county seat moved to his new courthouse so in 1911 a drive started to create a new county for Onaway, to be called “Forest County.” The proposal failed, but as a compromise, county court sessions were alternated between Rogers City and Onaway until the 1940s when it remained in Rogers City.
In the late 1990s, restoration efforts began, and over $1 million was spent to improve the heating and electrical system, replace the roof and windows, refinish the interior, and install a clock in the clocktower. As of 2009, the building houses the Onaway Branch of the Presque Isle District Library, the Onaway Historical Museum, the Chamber of Commerce, and offices of the City of Onaway.
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