Along the north side of Shelden’s 500 block stand just four buildings, all but one of which can be seen in the old photo above. The first of these building’s – the Hartman Block – we’ve already covered and sits just off frame to the left. At the far end of the block stands the massive bulk of the Shelden-Dee Block, a building that continues to stand yet today (and one that we’ll feature in more detail tomorrow). Next to it stands a wood framed building that once housed a hardware store and lodge hall on its third floor. That building no longer stands, having been replaced by the current Lode movie theater (which is now closed). The last building on the block is a three story brick building known historically as the Hotel Dee – and a building that we’ll take a closer look at today.
The Hotel Dee was built sometime between 1900 and 1907, since its first Sanborn appearance is on the 1908 edition (the city of Houghton’s history website lists it as being built in 1900). The building’s namesake is James Dee, a prolific Houghton real-estate developer who was responsible for nearly all of Houghton’s great landmarks including the Shelden-Dee Block, the Dee Block (Gazette Building), and Board of Trade building (Library Bar). The man was also responsible for establishing the Houghton County Electric Light Company, bringing the city its first telegraph, and organizing the first professional hockey league in the country (some say the world).
The hotel is built from a light colored brick and stands over 3 stories in height. Rooms occupied its upper two floors, while a clothing store shared space with the hotel’s lobby on the first floor. Its basement was home to a five lane bowling alley, one of the region’s first. Though generally plain and uninspiring, the building does feature a few interesting architectural embellishments.
The first of these embellishments can be found within the rows of upper floor room windows. These openings are laid out along five close spaced columns, interspaced with these interesting relief panels.
The building’s second embellishment are these interesting clover-like plaques placed along the hotel’s frieze. In stark contrast the building’s overhanging eaves are just that – with no decorative tine or even brick highlights to speak of.
Moving across the street we find this rather plain brick structure. One of the latest to be built here along the 500 block, this 1914 structure housed two store fronts on its first floor. These were originally home to a barbershop and general store. The upper floors were flats. Today the building houses a book store, with the other storefront currently vacant. (though its covered by a brick facade so you wouldn’t even know a second storefront was there).
Here’s a closer look at the building date plate, which is only marginally embellished with some sandstone trinkets. This simple style is the last of its kind to be found along Shelden. From this point on we enter Houghton’s architectural center – the Isle Royale Street intersection.
To Be Continued…