Since the village’s very beginning the corner of Oak and 6th has always been home to some form of transient housing. It started with the Anglo-American House, a low-rent boarding house that was built here as early as 1880, if not earlier. The Anglo was joined by a growing collection of boarding establishments that moved into the intersection around the same time, outfits that including the German-American House and Provincial House. Those other hotels would eventually disappear from the map, having been replaced by higher-class business blocks and apartments. But the Anglo would survive for another twenty years, in one form or another.
Around 1893 the Anglo received a change in ownership and a subsequent image makeover, changing its name to the Michigan House. The old boarding house operated under this new name for another decade, until being bought out by the Bosch Brewing Company. The Lake Linden based brewery was hoping to expand its customer base, and felt the best way to do so was to operate its own saloon serving its own brews. But the current digs at the Michigan House were far too low-rent to satisfy such a fine company as Bosch. The old building was torn down and a new, modern brick structure was erected in its place.
Opened in 1905, the old Michigan House underwent another rebranding, this time as the Hotel Michigan. The new name reflected a much higher-class establishment, catering more to the white collar businessmen then the low-rent immigrants of days past. The hotel featured 13 rooms scattered across its upper floors, rooms that more closely resembled apartments then typical hotel rooms. Each suite featured a bedroom along with a separate sitting room complete with its own fireplace.
The Michigan’s first floor featured the Bosch saloon along with an adjacent restaurant, for use by both hotel guests and the general public. As a showcase for Bosch products, no expense was spared in decking out the rather ornate saloon. The centerpiece of the grand space was a large oak bar topped with a lavishly drawn mural depicting a jovial picnic with plenty of Bosch brew in hand. In the neighboring space, the restaurant featured a Moorish influenced fireplace and tile floors.
Eventually Bosch abandoned the hotel and turned the saloon and restaurant over to private interests. In the 1960′s the old hotel rooms were renovated into apartments. By the 1980′s however the closing of the neighboring Vertin Department store brought the old hotel to it’s knees. The bar was soon closed and the apartments vacated. The building, along with the rest of the 500 block, was left to rot.
Today the old hotel has even re-invented once again, but this time by returning it back to its lavish roots. The old Bosch saloon has been returned to its former glory, and the adjacent restaurant now once again serves food. Upstairs some of the old hotel suites have once again been returned to transient status, providing downtown lodging to modern Calumet visitors.
For a century old building, the Michigan House has managed to keep its youthful appearance. The brick building features a copper cornice along with several sandstone highlights over the windows and around the bulls-eye windows found along the building’s top floor. But the Michigan’s most impressive feature is its pair of two-story oriel windows rising up the front facade.
Here’s a closer look at those rounded protrusions, most likely made of wood and sheathed in tin. The addition of a pair of stained glass windows adds a bit of opulence and probably helped the hotel’s perception as a higher class establishment.
The lower floor has underwent a great deal of modern “improvements” over the years, resulting in most of its windows becoming closed in. But over on the building’s 6th street face there has been relatively little done. The small stained glass windows are original to the Bosch saloon.
The Michigan’s upper floors are something else entirely, having survived the decades intact and in original condition. This beauty shot shows off the building’s architectural details including terra cotta topped pilasters, sandstone lintels, copper cornice and bulls-eye windows. A genuine work of art.