Most towns and villages across the Copper Country owe their existence to nearby copper mines. Houghton owes its to a man. Over a 150 years ago a merchant by the name of Ransom Sheldon laid claim to a patch of land along the shore of Portage Lake and built a small store to support his mining interests inland. Soon other buildings followed, and by 1861 the seed Sheldon had planted sprouted into the village of Houghton. Over the next century Houghton grew into an industrial and commercial powerhouse, becoming the center of activity in and around the region.
Today the city’s historical significance can easily be felt walking it’s streets and alleyways. Stately buildings, ornate embellishments, historical signage – the clues to the cities not-so-humble past can be found everywhere. You just need to know where to look for them.
The east wall of one of Houghton’s first municipal buildings, the old fire hall built in 1883. Originally housed village offices, then became home to the Michigan College of Mines which today is known better as Michigan Tech.
The upper floor of 224 Sheldon, one of the few older buildings that survived a fire on Houghton’s west side in 1959. The fire destroyed over 7 buildings between Quincy street and the bridge.
Here is the same building again, this time from the east side. The decorative ledges and pillars on the buildings facade now serve as homes for pigeons.
The stately entrance to the old Portage Lake Library building, completed in 1910 with funds donated by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. For years the building was covered by a large metal awning that protected the street from snow, blocking these details from view. Today the awning has since been removed, bringing the building to light once again.
The unique front facade of the Library Bar. This is the only original part of the building left, the rest was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the ’90s.
A highly decorative detail on the Douglas House. Once the city’s premier hotel for over a century it now serves as senior housing.
This building sports an interesting design on its frieze.
Behind the old Kirkish complex (now Backroom bookstore) a fresh renovated look is seen on this adjacent building.
An unique spiral fire escape on the rear of a building near the Lode Theater.