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This stately home of the Clinton County Historical Museum at 106 Maple Street holds the distinction of being the oldest brick residence in the city of St. Johns.

In 1858 John W. Paine, a native of New York State, came to St. Johns from Rochester Colony where he had been a merchant in partnership with Charles Kipp since 1852. Kipp moved to St. Johns in 1856 and opened a hardware store. Paine followed in 1858, opening a general store the same year.

On Oct. 6, 1858, Paine bought Lots 3 and 4 of Block 13 facing Maple Street. On this site in 1860 Paine built his imposing brick home. The same year he also built the first brick store in St. Johns.

At the time this house was built facing the Courthouse Square, it would have been quite a different setting. The courthouse was not to be built for 10 more years and all that stood on the “Square” in 1860 was a small county office building.

Considering its surroundings, Paine’s Italianate style house would have been considered an impressive structure in the six-year-old village, when only two years earlier it is recorded that a wild bear was shot across the street on the “Square”.

On Sept. 26, 1870, John W. Paine died at an early age of 49. His widow, Harriet, and six children remained in the house until 1875.

In 1876, ownership of the house passed to Edward and Ella (Conn) Brown. They sold it four years later to Charles and Palmyra Wickes. The Gillams purchased the house three years later.

Dr. Samuel E. Gillam, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and his wife, Rose, came to St. Johns in 1879 after practicing in Elsie for 10 years. They purchased the house in 1883 and were the owners until 1909. It was during the 1890s that the house was extensively remodeled into the Victorian style. Sometime before 1885, Dr. Gillam built his small office building just north of his home.

In 1904 Dr. Gillam was joined in practice by Dr. Walter A. Scott. Early in the following year, Rose Gillam died. Dr. Gillam passed away in 1908 and in 1911 Dr. Scott acquired the house and office which he maintained until his death in 1934. His wife, Malinda Braidy Scott, remained in the home until her death in 1953.


The practice of Dr. Scott was assumed by Dr. Sherwood R. Russell who arrived in St. Johns in 1934. Dr. Russell and his wife, Edith (Hunter), lived in Mrs. Scott’s upstairs apartment and occupied the doctor’s office for two years before moving to other quarters.

In 1955 a dentist, Dr. Herbert Oatley, purchased the property and the two-family dwelling was rented. The buildings and property were divided in the 1960s; Clinton County purchased the house and Dr. Oatley retained the doctor’s office. The house became offices for the County Superintendent of Schools and the County Health Department.

At the completion of a new Health Department facility in 1978, the County Board of Commissioners was asked by the Clinton County Historical Society to operate the building as a House Museum.

In September 1978, the county leased the house to the Clinton County Historical Society. It was restored and has been operated as the Paine-Gillam-Scott Museum since that time. It has been listed in the State Register of Historic Sites since 1980.

In 1986, the house and doctor’s office, once again, became one entity. The Congregational Church purchased the adjacent property on the north and donated the office building to the Historical Society for removing it. It was moved to the rear of the House Museum, turned to face South, and restored as the Doctor’s Annex.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Dwayne T. Evans permalink
    October 16, 2010 10:06 pm

    I bought an extremely old photo album thet had sample photos in it. This is a leather bound photo album , and it has pictures taken by Paine from Jackson Mich. I am trying to find the original artist. The Leather bound book has a gold latch with the imprint Pat. June 22,1875.
    I would like to find out all I canabout this book.

    Dwayne T. Evans.

    • October 17, 2010 6:02 pm

      Mr. Evans:
      perhaps yopu could try to contact the Historical Society in Jackson, Michigan. Mr. Paine who built this home was not a photographer. I will ask a few folks around here, and email you again if I get anything useful for your search. Also, you could search the Gazetteer, a directory available at the Library of Michigan which indexes businesses and professionals in all cities in Michigan. It goes back to 1856. They are on the second floor, north area. Good luck!

  2. Gary Oyer permalink
    July 1, 2013 3:06 am

    I have a green folded paper frame with a photo of the 1923 “Clinton County Normal”
    graduating class along with the graduation program. Also with them is a separate paper with notes on who is who, in the picture. It came from a great aunt who was in the class, but had no children
    Do you want it?

    Gary O

  3. Don Welch permalink
    February 13, 2016 3:45 pm

    I have an old cloth nail apron from Eagle, MI. with the name McCrumb LBR & Wrecking, with a phone number of 56F21. My question is When did the phone exchange have numbers like this occur in Clinton County and any further information you can give on McCrumb Lumber co. you can give.

    • February 24, 2016 8:00 pm

      Thank you for your inquiry….We have an Union Telephone Co. book from Nov. 1920 for St.Johns, Maple Rapids, Fowler and Westphalia that has numbers like that.
      We cannot find any other info on McCrumb LBR.
      Jan Upton

  4. January 5, 2017 7:56 pm

    Thanks to the Paine-Gillam-Scott Museum for having such a fine example of historical items from the St Johns Area. Especially with the tie ins with the Mint Farming history. This is a great opportunity for School Districts to travel back in time and be exposed to many items that were very important in their day, but as Ernie Harwell used to say… Now they are LONG GONE!

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