Quirky features reveal home's unusual and historic past

Despite a few noticeable hints, the past of this Antrim County building remains a secret for many.

Surrounded by countless moving boxes, packed with memories, it’s easy for Shari and Jack Unger to walk down memory lane about the Bellaire home they are moving out of.

"Jack and I bought this house just before we got married 30 years ago. Oh, I love the house, but I like old houses. It was not built pretentiously. It was really representative of what you would have found in Northern Michigan in the 1880's" explains Shari.

It was in the late 1800’s that their home on Broad Street was built. But it wasn’t constructed to just serve a family, rather an entire county. Their home was actually the first structure built by Antrim County. Its purpose was to serve as both a home for the sheriff and as a jail for the county’s inmates.

The home portion of the building isn’t ornate, after all, it was built to house a county employee and his family using taxpayer dollars. What’s really interesting about the building is the jail portion, and the reminders throughout the structure of it’s past.

If you walk through the building, you can find the classic heavy iron door that once secured the family from the prisoners.

Nearby is the metal pass through passage that the sheriff’s wife used to pass food through to the cells. From the outside, the home looks like just about any other one that has survived from the era, with a few exceptions. On several of the windows, you can still find the old iron bars that once kept people inside. The walls of the two-story cellblock building are truly amazing. From the outside, they appear normal. But they were actually built by stacking 2x6 pieces of lumber on top of each other from floor to ceiling, making solid wood walls. That’s enough lumber to almost build another home using traditional wall construction.

Shari says while older members of the community may know about the building's past, she says younger people often think it's just an old red barn.

The Unger’s have sold the home. Their new owner does have plans, and an announcement about the building’s future should be made public soon.

To see what the inside of this unusual home looks like, take a tour by watching the video above.

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