Houghton Club
100 Portage St. Houghton MI 49931
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100 Portage St,

Built as Houghton Club, 1910
Houghton Village & City offices 1933-1991
Historic restoration by UPEA, 1991

"The new Houghton Club . . . is complete in all its appointments, . . . detailed equipment and finish, it is the embodiment of good taste." Daily Mining Gazette, Dec. 1910

The Houghton Club, an exclusive gentlemen’s club for local businessmen, constructed this brick and stone Classical Revival style building in the heart of bustling downtown Houghton in 1910. The original plans included a third story with a ballroom, but it was not constructed. Perhaps the Club had trouble raising enough money -- despite this reduction, it cost $55,000 to build. In September 1910, the Club’s Board of Governors ordered $10,000 worth of furniture and on December 15 the club was formally opened with a reception for “members and their ladies.” The Calumet and Hecla orchestra furnished music. The Daily Mining Gazette reported, “The new Houghton Club is another monument to that enthusiastic pride of the community . . .  is complete in all its appointments, is arranged with proper regard for all club conveniences and in furniture, detailed equipment and finish, it is the embodiment of good taste.”

The formal entrance, flanked by classic white Doric columns that support an open porch, leads to an interior which reflects Arts and Crafts influences. Dark stained woodwork, ceiling beams, faux leather walls, stained and leaded glass and light fixtures all likely led to the high construction cost. The main floor included a parlor, bar, and billiard room; the second floor held private dining rooms, bedrooms, card rooms, and a library. The basement housed the club’s gymnasium and a large servant area including kitchens, laundry, and a wine cellar.

The Houghton Club occupied the building until 1933 when the Village of Houghton purchased it as their municipal offices for $1,835. The Village renovated the inside, rearranged rooms and added new windows on the back of the building, but retained many unique features. The Houghton Police Department joined them in 1960. The old Houghton Club house served as the town’s “Community Building” until 1991 when the now City of Houghton offices (Houghton became a city in 1970) moved across Shelden Avenue to the Masonic Building.

U.P.  Engineers and Architects, Inc. (UPEA) bought the building and, guided by the original building plans and old photographs, worked with the State Historic Preservation Office - National Park Service to return much of the building to its original appearance. Partitions were removed to retore the original layout; layers of paint were stripped to determine original wall colors. The mahogany-stained birch woodwork and ceiling beams and original stained and leaded glass light fixtures are evident. Moose head and antelope horn trophies from the Houghton Club remain – a reminder of the initial tenants.

Sources: Copper Country Architects; Historic Houghton Walking Tour; History of American Architecture SS422 Spring 2000 Term Projects; Keweenaw Time Traveler; National Register of Historic Places application; UPEA brochure; Image: University Archives and Historical Collections MTU Neg 00582

Style:
Classical Revival with Arts & Crafts interior
Architect:
Alexander Chadbourne Eschweiler
Contractor:
Herman Gundlach, Sr.