Houghton

From a Previous Life

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Standing tall at the west end of Houghton’s main thoroughfare is a particularly handsome three story sandstone building etched with the words “smart zone” across its top. The building is an incubator space for the ...

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Down by the Docks (p8)

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The Carroll Foundry rests atop land partially created from the tailings of the Grand Portage Mill, which sat just to the west of it at the end of town. To the east of the foundry ...

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Down by the Docks (p7)

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The Houghton waterfront of today looks far different then it did a century ago, as today the majority of the lakeshore is now home to green spaces – public parks, marinas, and trails. Traditionally, however, ...

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Down by the Docks (p5)

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Before the arrival of the first swing bridge over the canal, the waterfront area along the 100 block of Houghton’s Shelden Ave was nothing more then a back alley. At that point almost all of ...

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A Ramp to Nowhere

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The Copper Range depot was built at the far eastern end of its rail yards, just a short distance from Houghton’s downtown and the bridge to Hancock. While close the depot had a geographic  disadvantage ...

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Down by the Docks (p1)

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A pioneering New Yorker by the name of Ransom Shelden was one of the first white settlers to arrive to the Keweenaw – first taking up residence at the mouth of the Portage River in ...

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The Legacy of James Dee

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There was much money to be had in in the Copper Country at the end of the nineteenth century, especially for those enterprising souls that could take advantage of a region in its infancy eager ...

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St. Ignatius of Loyola

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In a region where Calumet was home to no less then six separate Roman Catholic churches, it seems odd to discover that Houghton could only muster one such house of worship of its own. But ...

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Grace Methodist Church

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The old wood-framed church that served Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was nothing more then a room with four walls and a roof, hardly a structure representative of the region’s premiere Methodist congregation – known as ...

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The Churches of Houghton

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The great metropolises of the Copper Country were really limited to just two, each directly fueled by the region’s richest and most powerful mine companies. To the north the great C&H helped grow Red Jacket ...

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The Revolution in the Valley

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The Keweenaw Peninsula garnered its name from the native population who referred to the long finger of land as “Kee-wi-wai-non- ing”, roughly translated as the “place where portage is made”. Those early people would forgo ...

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The Carnegie Library

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Andrew Carnegie’s first experience with the industrial revolution occurred in his youth, back at his home in Scottland. His father – who was in the textile business – had been taken off guard by the ...

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Going Old School

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The Michigan School of Mines was established at the dawn of the Copper Empire’s reign across the Keweenaw, born from the burgeoning demand for trained engineers and mining professionals. In the beginning the young school ...

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Houghton County’s Courthouse

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Houghton County was first established in 1845, comprising at the time of almost the entirety of the Keweenaw peninsula. The county’s first seat of government was established at the centralized located port town of Eagle ...

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New Tricks for an Old Dog

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The old Houghton Fire Hall has served many purposes in its life. Originally it was built to house the city’s volunteer fire department – Continental Fire Company No.1. Its second floor became home to the ...

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Huron Creek Walls

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The city of Houghton sits along a rocky ridge defined by the Pilgrim River valley to the east and the Huron Creek gorge to the west. While the ridge descends rather steadily towards the Pilgrim ...

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St. Ignatius School

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By the end of the nineteenth century almost every Catholic church in the region had a complimenting parochial school. These schools – controlled and operated by the church – infused religious teachings with a standard ...

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Terraced Gardens

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If you take a stroll along East Lakeshore Drive in Houghton in the area once occupied by the Carroll Foundry, you’ll find a line of old houses along with this interesting stone structure. Not so ...

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The Power House

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The Copper Country’s reputation as a modern metropolis in contrast to a typical mining camp was strengthened by it’s early apportion of many civilized contrivances such as the telegraph, the street car, and the theater. ...

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Gotham (p2)

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The landscape that exists under the rusting steel of Houghton’s parking deck seems to be from another time and place – a place devoid of sunlight and vacated by man. Occasionally you see a car ...

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Gotham (p1)

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In the beginning Houghton’s waterfront was dominated by warehouses and rail yards, prompting the establishment of the city’s main business avenue several hundred feet up the hill. When the surrounding mines began to shut their ...

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Murals

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Sitting along the old DSS&A rail grade – now Houghton’s waterfront trail – is a large mural placed along the neighboring retaining wall. The mural consists of several panels that depict various scenes from the ...

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The Shop

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When I first stepped off the ship to arrive in the new world that would become my home, the city of Houghton looked a bit different then it did today. The most discernible difference laid ...

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The Masonic Temple

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As we make our way up Houghton’s main commercial street we find one last architectural gem of significance to explore – that belonging to the city’s massive Masonic Temple. Built in 1910, this was a ...

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The 600 Block (p2)

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Making our way back from the massive bank building anchoring the 600 block we come across the second brick business block to have been built along this stretch of Shelden, visible to the right in ...

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Downtown Houghton of Old

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A short break from our downtown Houghton tour to take a look back at what it once looked like, thanks to those hi-res images courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Maps division. The shot ...

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The 600 Block (p1)

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While the neighboring 500 block’s claim to fame was its upscale Douglass House hotel, the 600 block’s iconic status would be sealed by the arrival of Houghton’s first stone business block, erected at the corner ...

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The Douglass House

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Houghton’s commercial district began with the establishment of two hotels – the Houghton and the Douglass – both named Douglass Houghton. But that’s where the similarities ended, as the two businesses catered to a completely ...

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The Shelden-Dee Block

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Thanks to the adjacent Douglass House, the corner of Shelden and Isle Royale became Houghton’s de-facto commercial center. Here the city’s most influential and important residents erected grand monuments to the Copper Country’s commercial aspirations, ...

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The 500 Block (p2)

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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 – ...

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The 500 Block (p1)

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One could possibly argue that Houghton’s commercial core along Shelden street owes its existence primarily to the establishment of the Douglass House, an upscale hotel that first catered to guests around 1860. As the region’s ...

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The 400 Block (p3)

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Before leaving the 400 block for good there’s one last building that warrants mention, the Leopold Building. This two story business block was built in 1903 and was named in honor of a Mr Nathan ...

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The 400 Block (p2)

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Originally the 400 block of Shelden was home to two important landmarks – the Haas Brewery and Miller’s Hotel. Today those buildings are gone, but their influences on the block can still be seen by ...

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The 400 Block (p1)

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Unlike the blocks to the west which remained heavily residential for most of Houghton’s early history, the 400 block established its commercial identity rather early thanks to several Houghton landmarks that took up residence here ...

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The 300 Block (p1)

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The transformation of Houghton’s Shelden Avenue from residential district to commercial thoroughfare was rather slow and tedious. The streets origins can be traced to a trio of up-scale hotels that first made their mark along ...

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The 200 Block

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The second block of Houghton’s main thoroughfare is bordered by Quincy Street to the west and Pewabic on the East. The block’s early history was dominated by more industrious tenants such as a blacksmith and ...

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The 100 Block

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As originally platted, the village of Houghton consisted of a narrow tract of land along Portage Lake 8 blocks long and four blocks deep. With most of the village’s waterfront occupied by wharfs and warehouses, ...

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From Humble Beginnings (p2)

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dowtown Houghton, along Sheldon Ave. Those who live by the sword die by the sword, and the copper empire that had risen Houghton to great heights at the turn of the century was threatening to ...

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From Humble Beginnings (p1)

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the upper floors of the Shelden-Dee block, built in 1900 Most towns and villages across the Copper Country owe their existence to nearby copper mines. Houghton owes its to a man. Over a 150 years ...

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