Young building
503 Shelden Ave. Houghton MI 49931
Get directions

503 Shelden Avenue

Built c. 1901 for the Young family
Lot originally held a log cottage
Current building replaced one lost to fire in 1900

This building was built after the Young family suffered a fire that damaged their family business.

Known as the Young Building, and likely built between 1901 and 1903, this structure was the third home of the Jacob Young family. Catherine (Keller) Young immigrated from Bavaria to New York with her father and siblings in 1851. Within a few years, she moved to Houghton where she married fellow German immigrant Jacob Young, in 1855, and settled in a log cottage on the southeast corner of Shelden and Huron streets -- the corner that was to be her home for the rest of her life.

In the 1870 census, Jacob Young’s household included his wife and four children, a servant and a saloon worker -- both fellow German immigrants. He listed his employment as “keeping saloon.” In 1876 he declared he would “tear down the Portage Lake House . . .  and put in its place a fine stone building . . .” He planned a three-story structure “formed of Marquette brownstone, first story, and brick facing the balance of the way up.” In the 1880 census, Jacob’s occupation was recorded as “keeps boarding house.” And as of 1888 the “Portage Lake House,” a three-story brick building including a jewelry store, was nestled into the northwest corner of the lot. Jacob Young died in 1893, leaving his estate for his young widow to manage.

Two days after Christmas in 1900, the Young Building was ruined by fire. Though everyone escaped, Mrs. Young and her tenants, including son Jacob, lost almost everything. By 1903, Mrs. Young had had a new building constructed, possibly by Herman Gundlach Sr. The two-story wood frame building featured a stone foundation, brick veneer on the upper floor, and nine rooms. A metal frieze with a vaguely Art Nouveau influence embellishes the north end of the building above and below the large plate glass windows that overlook Shelden Avenue.

At the time of this photo, likely taken around 1903, Citizens National Bank occupied the west storefront. The east storefront was home to the Palace Market where proprietor Charles Kehl sold “Meats, Provisions, and Canned Goods.” Kehl’s business had also been in the previous building. He and his family lived nearby on Shelden and Dakotah (now Bridge) Street. W.J. Spencer’s dental offices were on the second floor. According to the 1900 census, the Young family resided in the building as two separate households. Mrs. Young, “Landlady,” lived with her niece, dressmaker Carrie Raviler; son Jacob Young, a locomotive engineer, lived with his wife Helen and their two sons.

Sources: 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 No Neg 10-18-2005-001

Possibly Herman Gundlach Sr.