105 Huron Street
105 Huron Street, Houghton, MI 49931
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105 Huron Street

Michigan State Historic Site
A. Carnegie gave $15,000 grant for building and furnishings
Opened in 1910 as Houghton Public Library
Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, established 2007

"Heat was always a problem. We received our heat from the fire hall across the street; if the firemen were comfortable, we froze. There was many an argument between us and the firemen. We would burn papers and discarded books in the fireplace to help out." Comments of former librarians, written 1984.

In 1908, Portage Township School District Superintendent, John Doelle, led a successful effort to establish a public library in Houghton. He secured a $15,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and Portage Township citizens contributed an additional 10 percent. Erected on the site of an old armory (which had collapsed in 1903-1904 under extra heavy snowfall), the two-story Classic-Revival building features a Jacobsville sandstone foundation topped with yellow brick.

The local stone was also used in details including fluted columns and carved door frames. The Prairie/Craftsman influence is evident in the diamond shaped pattern of the upper windows and the golden oak woodwork throughout the upper floor. A rubble-stone fireplace, faced with pebbles gathered on the beach at the canal, is centered on the east wall. The lower floor, trimmed with southern yellow pine, was divided into a mens smoking room, a class room, and a lecture room which includes a small stage.

The Houghton Public Library opened on February 18, 1910 with two programs – one for “women and children,” and a second general reception, in the evening. The next day’s Mining Gazette reported “from 9 o’clock in the morning till 9 last night the library was crowded, largely with school children, but also with men and women eager to take early advantage of the opportunity.” The building served the community as a public library for the next 96 years.

In 2006 a new library building was constructed on the waterfront. Determined to keep the old building in service to the public, in 2008 the City of Houghton purchased it and established the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw. The Museum has worked to convert the 1908 library building into a 21st century museum but retain or restore as many of the 1908 details as possible. The Carnegie became a "Keweenaw Heritage Site" of the Keweenaw National Historical Park in 2013. A non-collecting museum, the Carnegie maintains exhibit galleries upstairs and a community room downstairs where they host changing exhibits and programs about local cultural and natural history.

Museum hours: Tues. & Thurs. 12 – 5, Sat. 12 – 4

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; Image: Michigan Tech University Archives and Historical Collections MS042-16-2-53-1061


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