Architecture Medley (p1)

Hancock, like most of the Copper Country, was born from copper’s bosom. From atop atop Quincy hill, the Quincy mine platted and developed the city’s infrastructure and in turn populated it with immigrants from all over the world. For almost a century the city lived in the shadows of the mine and it’s towering shaft-houses overlooking the city from above. But by the end of the second world war Quincy ceased mining atop the hill and concentrated its last ditch efforts into its reclamation plant on Torch Lake. Hancock was abandoned and had to find it’s own identity separate from the mine that created it.

Walking down Hancock’s streets today, you can’t help but get the vibe of a city with an identity crisis. The modern and the antique, the Scandinavian and the midwestern, the progressive and conservative – all coexisting in some time and culturally independent void. European flavored sandstone adorned churches next to glass skyscrapers and intricately carved stone panels alongside flashing marquees. The multiple facets of a complicated city.

On the corner of Reservation and Quincy stands the old First National Bank building built in 1888. Originally a two story structure, the third was added years later. Spoiled in part by the air conditioners the original terra cotta embellishments can be seen just below the top floor. Behind it sits the 96-room Scott Hotel, presently being refurbished as apartments.

A closer look at the Terra-Cotta accents on the First National Bank building, showcasing a level of detail and craftsmanship largely left out of modern architecture.

Straight out of the ’50s stands the Gartner’s Department store sign, gracing the modern facade on an old building. Like alot of buildings in the Copper Country, the bilding’s original facade was covered with more contemporary design in an attempt to make it seem more modern. This treatment consisted of structural glass called Vitrolite what was added in 1952. The building itself dates from the turn of the century.

The impressive columns of the Neo-Classical First National Bank building on Ravine St. are in stark contrast to the more subtle lines of the building next to it. These columns were added to the building in a 1913 renovation.

This one was interesting. I assume the spelling error is a Finnish influence of some sort, because I doubt the First National Bank (on which this plaque is displayed prominently over the door) would have let this go. NOTE: Thanks to Doug I now know that this represents a Roman influence, a common spelling usage in neo-classical architecture. Thanks Doug!

The eastern clock face of City Hall, looking a little worn in it’s late years. One interesting note is that the north face doesn’t have any numbers. (check it out in this panoramic from yesterday.)

The reflective windows of the Republic Bank building form the backdrop to snow-covered trees nearby. This glass covered monolith dominates the Hancock skyline and provides a striking juxtaposition to the surrounding architecture. Once home to the word headquarters of D&N bank, this 8 story office building was built in 1972.

The bell tower of the First United Methodist Church against the backdrop of the Republic Bank Building. The back face of the tower seems to have been covered in metal sheeting for some reason. The reflection in the bank building is the Middle School that sits across the street.

Classic cornice work of the Scott Hotel – slightly worn and stained over the years.

The lit marquee from the Bleachers and the rich sandstone from the building it decorates seem like strange bedfellows. It seems to be par for the course in Hancock however.

Note: A great place on the web to tour the architecture and buildings of Hancock is on the city’s historic tour site. Very well done with some great information.

Monday: Hancock part 2

4 comments

  1. Sean – Great insight. Sounds like a reasonable explanation to me. Although it’s been the first time I’ve seen anything like it on building plaques I have seen its usage in other contexts. Perhaps someone with some architect training out there can fill in some more details about its use as a classical looking element.

  2. The letters “U” and “W” were not originally in the latin alphabet–the letter “V” did triple duty (or triple dvty!), as it were, so it is possible that they were trying to make the script look classical–particularly since it was done in 1875. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Latin_alphabet
    or
    http://users.aol.com/emarko/u.html

  3. Lynn – I found the same sites using the same “fovnded” spelling and it’s a mystery to me as well. My assumption is that it is some finnish / english combination (similar to splanglish), but it’s use on a bank building seems odd. (I don’t know the history of the First National Bank, who’s building this sign was placed, perhaps there is some Scandinavian connection?

    Either way, let us know what you find.

  4. That’s interesting about the “Fovnded”. I did a quick search, and a few sites came up with Founded spelled that way. But I couldn’t find out why it is spelled that way. I’ll have to do some more searching :)

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