Prosperity Lost (p4)

Following the impressive sandstone beauty that is the Marta Block our tour of Laurium follows that gem up with a pair of not so glorious buildings – though I’m sure at one time they were. Like their more illustrious neighbor to the south, both of these commercial blocks feature sandstone, though without the same level of spit and polish. On the left sits the Faucett Block, while its neighbor to the north is known as the Glocke Block. We’ll begin our tour with the Faucett Block.

To put it mildly the Faucett Block is one big hot mess, a victim of years of “modernization” efforts, varying tenants, and stop-gap repair efforts of limited success. Architecturally the most interesting feature of this building is its large second story oriel window, which helps it stand apart in a crowd of buildings sharing the same second floor presentation. What stands out most glaringly is the pair of mis-matched storefront facades on the building’s first floor – accented by the faux white brick paneling affixed to the buildings’ north (right) commercial space.

So hideous, in fact, that it deserves a second look. I wouldn’t be surprised if this side of the building housed a seedy bar at some point in the last quarter century, as the misplaced facade treatment looks like something such a seedy establishment might have slapped on its exterior. I can not believe that at some point in the development of human history our species thought this was aesthetically pleasing. Such horrible taste insures that this was done at some point in the 70s.

Back before this monstrosity was erected the building was originally home to the Faucett Bros and Guck Company, which dealt in real estate, loans, and insurance. The Faucetts were agents for a half dozen different national and regional insurance companies, and served as a branch office for the Northern Michigan Building and Loan Association. Their business was successful enough to allow them to finance and erect this two story commercial block to house their offices, along with a few other tenants that included a hardware business. Later the building would become home to Finlayson Grocery, who according to their ad dealt in “Fancy and Staple Groceries, Teas, and Coffees”. I’m not sure what a fancy grocer is, but I’m sure it had a bit more class then the facade the storefront presents today.

Up top the building has faired a little better, the main problem here being a simple lack of maintenance. The oriel window could use a fresh coat of paint, and its a shame the original large windows have been infilled as is standard around these parts. Up above it looks as if the building may have once featured a rather large and elaborate cornice which has since fallen off. The cheap plywood replacement is no doubt a far cry from the original.

Perhaps the only piece of class still left along this old gal is the beautiful sandstone details around the second story windows. That is some nice stone work, and once again its a shame the original arched windows have been replaced by smaller models.

Things don’t get much better next door, with the Glocke Block. Frederick C. Glocke was proprietor of the F.C. Glocke & Co., primarily a cigar wholesaler and confectioner who dabbled in several other retail trades as well. The building was originally suppose to be a simple one story brick affair, but for reasons unknown it was expanded to a more prominent two story structure when it was finished in 1905. A relative of Glocke’s – Walter Glocke – would later run a billiards hall out of the space. Today it houses a craft store.

Once again the first floor has been horribly “modernized”, resulting in the same fuax rock facades seen across the street at the senior center. While the upper floor had been spared such indignity, hardly looks any better for it thanks to some rather dubious upkeep.

Originally the building featured a large cornice topped by a pediment nameplate. The cornice has been destroyed long ago, leaving behind only the shadow of its original placement. Sitting below that missing cornice is a belt course of sandstone – perhaps the building’s only piece of ornamentation. Not a very handsome building, that is for sure.

Continuing on down the line we find a pair of smaller less permanent structures on display. The building on the left is was once home to the Myers Furniture Store for many years, before bowling lanes were added to the structure in the 1940’s and the building became a bowling alley and bar. Today it continues to serve in such a capacity, having the distinction of being the only alley serving the Keweenaw peninsula.

To the right is another rather plain wood-framed building that housed a saloon most of its life. Around 1917 it was home to the Archie Saloon, whose proprietor lived in the upstairs apartment. By the look of that brick font facade it looked like the building continued to serve as a bar for the remainder of its life. It stands empty today.

If we were to end our tour here, Laurium’s prosperous past would be in serious doubt. While the Vivian and Marta Blocks may be impressive in size, they hardly constitute pinnacles of a great commercial center as Laurium once was. Luckily for us, a few more impressive buildings were erected around the turn of the century at the northern end of Hecla’s 300 block – buildings that remain as a reminder of all Laurium once was, and all it has lost…

Discuss…

  1. Hey!!!
    I like that super-groovy faux white brick! Then again, I like ruffle shirts and plaid flares. Besides, give it enough time and it will surely be back in style!

    Disco Gator

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