Oak Street 700

Up until about 1890 the village of Red Jacket essentially ended at 7th street, with the land sitting past that being nothing but grazing fields. As the village expanded the vacant land on Oak’s western end became home to warehouses, churches, and a lumber yard – with a few homes sprinkled in for good measure. But that would soon change with the Mineral Range depot moving in to 9th street. Land once occupied by those warehouses and lumber yards suddenly became much more valuable and soon high priced tenants were moving in. By the turn of the century those once vacant lots along Oak’s west end became lined with some rather impressive structures, including some of the village’s largest and most opulent business blocks.

We start our tour at the 700 block’s north-east corner, as seen in the photo above. As noted earlier 7th street attracted several churches in it’s early years, one of which is seen above. That church is the Red Jacket congregational, built around 1890. Next door sits a private residence, one of the 700’s first tenants (though it’s technically on 7th). This house was erected around 1895, built to replace a smaller home that originally called the lot home.

That early home would continue to anchor this corner lot for another thirty years, before becoming abandoned and destroyed around 1915. The highly sought piece of real estate would then become home to a gas station, Oak’s first and only. Today the gas station has been replaced by the supply warehouse seen above.

Next down the line we have a second house, this one technically sitting on neighboring 8th street. This particular house was built around 1890, making it the oldest structure still standing along the 700 block. Currently it sits in the shadow of the incredible St. Paul church across the street.

Moving back to the south side of the street, we find a few more residential homes calling the 700 block home. These homes sit on land previously occupied the Armstrong-Thielman lumber yard. With the arrival of the neighboring depot, the old yard was moved down alongside the Mineral Range tracks near Portland street, leaving this portion of Oak free for new development.

The first of these homes is the Kitti House, a large Victorian inspired home sitting on the corner of 7th. Around 1916 this turreted house was home to Henry Kitti, a Finnish immigrant who first arrived to the country in 1877. Henry would go on to help form the Finnish Mutual Fire Insurance Company, serving first as secretary and then later as president. The neighboring house was originally built as a duplex. It was home to George Pascoe, a bartender at the Michigan House; and Seth Anderson, a brakeman for C&H.

Looking past these two homes and further down Oak Street we find a few rather large and impressive buildings come into view. Zooming into the archive photo above provides an even better look…

What we see here is the apex of Oak Street’s evolution from simple cross street to major commercial center. Here a good three blocks removed from 5th street we find some of the village’s largest and most impressive structures including the Arlington Hotel and the immense four story Bollman block. The Bollman will have to wait until our 800 block tour, but we’ll take a closer look at the Arlington next.

The Arlington Hotel first opened its doors as the “New Jewel House”, around 1897. The original Jewel House was located on 5th street, in an old wood framed building later used by the Central Hotel. With the arrival of the Mineral Range depot to Oak’s west end, the Jewel saw an opportunity to increase it’s business substantially. They bought an old warehouse sitting on the corner of 8th and replaced it with this modern and opulent three story brick hotel.

With the subsequent arrival of the streetcar line, the hotel underwent a rebranding, becoming the high class Arlington Hotel. The Arlington featured a barbershop, dining room, saloon and billiards hall on its first floor. Its upper floors contained rooms.

Unfortunately the Arlington was torn down in the early 1920‘s, leaving a large empty lot for many years. Eventually the lot became home to this rather unique home, featuring what appears to be a stone facade. I would guess that facade might just be a veneer though.

It’s hard to tell a great hotel once stood here, except for the rather large sidewalk sitting now in front of that small home. Up behind the house can be see the final stop on our 700 block tour. – the Grichar’s Grocer.

More on that tomorrow….

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  1. Hi Mike, I am enjoying these Oak Street posts very much. I would never know the history of the different buildings without your help.

    Just wondering on a couple of things, was the Red Jacket Congregational church also replaced by the supply warehouse? That church building is no longer standing, correct? Also, any chance you or anyone else could access an archive picture of the gas station that you referred to that occupied this location? I love tracing back the old gas stations in the Copper Country area.

    And my last comment, I have walked past that home that occupies the area where the Arlington used to be numerous times. I have always wondered what used to be there. Thanks to you it’s another story solved. Thanks.

  2. There was a service station in the Nelson-Schroeder Block for a while, too, back in the early days when service stations used existing storefronts and had the pumps on the sidwalk, right at the curb. (Jim, if you’re interested in photos of either or both gas stations on Oak Street, send me an email through the website for Keweenaw National Historical Park, – I’m the archivist at the park)

    I think the Red Jacket Congregational Church merged with the Calumet Congregational Church. The empty building on 7th Street was used for auto storage for a while before it was torn down.

    One other note – historically, the Kitti family owned all three buildings on the lot on the corner of 7th and Oak – the house, the duplex, and the meat market on the alley. They used to call it (what else?) – “the Kitti corner” – !

  3. The standard gas station is the only one i remember and that was when gas was about 37 cents a gallon i allways refered to it as bergans gas station and that was back in the day they pumped your gas checked the oil and cleaned the windshield so i guess i am dating myself now.

  4. Mike,
    I have to be honest with you, this series on Red Jacket by far has been my favorite series. I’ve stayed at the Michigan House three times in the last year on my snowmobiling trips. I kind of laugh when I visit the local establishments and everyone assumes that I stay at the AmericInn, they all seem shocked when I tell them I’m staying at the Michigan House.
    With all of the history Calumet holds, I couldn’t imagine not immersing myself right in the heart of the “Red Metal” country. Thanks to CCE, Mich. Tech Archives, your readers’ insight, and a lot of local folks I’ve aquainted myself with , I’m totally hooked on the history of the Keweenaw and can’t wait ’til next years snowmobile trips…..the “AmericInn”…..yeah right!! lol

  5. Glad you guys are all enjoying the series. Only a few more installments to go…

    Love the Kitti corner. I wasn’t sure if that corner house was built for the Kitti family or they moved in later. It would appear now that it was built for them. That makes sense considering the whole lot from 7th to the alley was the lumber yard, it was probably sold off as one large lot. The Kitti’s just filled it in.

    The gas station at the Nelson-Schroeder is pretty neat. Sanborn maps don’t show that so I missed it. I suppose those stations used no underground tanks, and stored the gas right inside the pumps themselves? I’ll have to look into that.

    Looks like I’ll have to do a gas station series in the future…

  6. i know the standard station had underground tanks as i remember them checking the tank with a stick to see how much was remaining in the tank. i think the real old gravity feed pumps just used what was poured into them as people would like to see how much they were geting.

  7. I would love to see a gas station series ! there are so many old gas station locations everywhere in the copper country !

  8. Sadly a gas station series would be almost impossible, as for the most part people don’t/didn’t tend to take pictures of mundane facilities like gas stations. They hardly show up in archives and such. Much like outhouses. They are practical, but are rarely ever thought of as picturesque.

    1. That’s true, there really isn’t much photographs of gas stations out there (at least without going to the archives to get them) But I could just show old buildings that once served in that capacity and let you guys use your imagination as to what it once looked like.

  9. i have done a little bit of research on different gas stations around the area and have some pictures of a few (old pictures) let me know if i can be of any help !

  10. The gas station on the corner of Oak and 7th Streets was a standard station owned by Armour “Buggs” Burgan. A machine shop now stands at that site. The church in the photo I was told was the Polish Catholic Church, the rectory, a grey stone house, still stands, the nuns convent a red brick buliding still stands and the school, torn down, was in the Morrison School yard. I think a series on the churches in the area would tell a lot about the people who lived in those times.

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