As we continue our tour along Laurium’s main commercial district, we come across one more name to add to our list of whose who for the old village of Calumet’s – Dominick Marta. Mr. Marta was an Italian baker who set up shop in the young village of Calumet soon after Vivian’s arrival. Mr. Marta’s success enabled him to invest a great deal of money in the erection of one of Laurium’s most handsome buildings – the three story sandstone Marta Block.
At a cost of roughly $12,000 the Marta Block joined a prestigious group of large building blocks to follow in Vivian’s footsteps. The Marta Block is three stories in height, featuring a pair of storefronts on the first floor, office space in the second, and space for a hall on the unfinished third. The building was built to house Mr. Marta’s bakery, which occupied the left storefront in the picture taken above. Marta and his wife Catherine lived in a small wood home built behind the building. Only 9 years after the building was built, however, Mr. Marta died and the building and bakery within was left to his wife.
Catherine would end up continuing her husbands business, running it well into the 30s before handing it over to her kids. Even then Catherine kept a close eye on the operation and continued to serve as the bakery’s head baker well into the 40s. The building and bakery within would become a integral ingredient of the Laurium commercial district, serving the community up until her death in 1960. By then the bakery had changed names to Kentala’s, but today the Marta name continues to grace the building’s nameplate.
Unlike most of Laurium’s surviving structures, the Marta Block is amazingly well preserved and continues to exhibit a rather grandiose impression to those passing by on the street. Most notable is the rough-faced sandstone and round-arched window openings on the third floor. You could tell at a glance that this building was not your normal old business block, but was designed to be something a bit more.
Then there’s the little details and flourishes that inhabit the building’s exterior, items such as these small medallions scattered across the facade that hint at a certain level of detail and craftsmanship that usually only accompanies a building of distinction.
Perhaps the least impressive part of this building is its main entrance, which no doubt has been seriously altered from the structures original configuration. Though I can’t be sure, I doubt that the building’s original entrance features a large alcove in its center as we see on the building today. In addition to the altered opening the building also has been scarred by the presence of a large amount of wood infill in areas original dedicated to large storefront windows. But as long as you focus your attention to the building’s upper floors, these slight blemishes shouldn’t detract from its beauty too much.
With the towering Richetta Block to the south reduced to a single story, the Marta Block now serves as an anchor to Hecla street’s west side – denoting the beginning the village’s main collection of business blocks to the north. Two of these blocks can be seen in the photo above, a pair of two-story stone buildings that comprise the majority of Laurium’s remaining inventory. Neither has faired as well as the Marta Block, however, and are a bit more worse for wear..