Wing House Museum (Branch County Historical Society)
Located at 27 S. Jefferson Street, Coldwater, The Historical marker reads:
North Side – This impressive Second Empire style home with mansard roof was constructed in 1875 for Jay M. Chandler (1850-1884) and his young bride Francis. On this site from 1847-1871 had stood the Parrish flouring mill. Jay, the fourth son of locally prominent Albert Chandler, followed his brothers into the family hardware business. Albert founded the Coldwater Sentinel and served as the city’s first mayor. Jay Chandler sold his home to Lucius Wing in 1882.
South Side – Lucius M. Wing (1839-1921), Civil War captain, county sheriff and prominent businessman, purchased this residence in 1882. That same year he served a term as mayor. Making notable contributions to the industrial, financial and social life of the city, he was the longtime president of a local bank, a manufacturer of cigars and founder of the Bon Ami Social Club. The house remained in the family for three generations until acquired by the Branch County Historical Society in 1974 for use as a historical museum.
HISTORIAN NOTES (David McDonald):
Questions arise about the method by which a flouring mill would operate in that area. The Parrish mill was steam powered, thus it also meant that they were firing a furnace to generate steam. Fire and grain dust are lethal components in a fire scenario. The Parrish mill burnt to the ground. The land sit empty until the Chandler purchase.
The Chandler family built the 2nd Empire home, but the day before the wedding of Jay Chandler and Frances Campbell, Frances signed all the deed documents, thus having control of the home and property. It was not Jay Chandler who sold the house to Lucius Wing, but rather, it was Frances Campbell Chandler. She sold the house, with furnishings, to Lucius Wing for less money than the house cost to build. Plus, Lucius included the value of two bare building lots in Coldwater as part of the payment to Francis. There is no record of Francis and/or her two children ever returning to Coldwater.
Lucius Wing joined the Nineteenth Infantry in July 1862 and served with the Company C during the Civil War. The 19th suffered their greatest loss of men during the Battle of Atlanta. Lucius was mustered out of service in June 1865. He would serve as host to numerous reunions held in Coldwater for many years for the 19th Infantry.
Wing served in several capacities for the community including the role of sheriff of Branch County and the Mayor of Coldwater. He was a busy entrepreneur who led business ventures in banking, cigar production and as President of the Portland Cement operations in Coldwater and Quincy.
Lucius married Adaline Knapp and along with their two sons, Phillip and Sigmund, they moved into the 2nd Empire home in 1882. Sigmund would retain ownership of the home after his father and raise one daughter Adaline in the home. Adaline kept the Wing home after her father, with her husband, George Kershaw. George and Adaline had no children. After her husband’s death, Adaline decided to move to Florida and sold the Wing home to the Branch County Historical Society.
The Branch County Historical Society commenced restoration of the future museum in 1974. With the centennial of 1976, the museum, though only partially completed, was opened to the public to show what was being done to establish a local museum. The society hosts luncheons, dinners and tours at the museum, as well as it serving as the home of the Branch County Historical Society.