Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Back in the day, when mining was king, Calumet, Michigan, boasted a population of over 4,500. Today that total stands just under 800. Driving the streets of Calumet during our vacation in July, it didn’t seem like a ghost town, but statistics look a little grim. What a shame. There is a lot of history here. 
And so now I am going to do something I never do on this blog. I am going to copy and paste information straight off the internet, telling you about these places. At the end of each blurb is the website which I borrowed from, but the pictures are all mine. 

In 1900, Calumet was a booming town in the center of Michigan's copper mining industry. The largest company in the region, Calumet and Hecla, operated its works between the villages that became Calumet and Laurium.

Mines drew a diverse population, including Cornish, Scots, Italians, Finns, Swedes, Croatians, Slovenians, and French Canadians. French Canadians, under the administration of Reverend J. R. Boissonault, built a church dedicated to St. Anne. The architectural firm of Charlton, Gilbert and Demar designed the structure, built of red sandstone from the Jacobsville quarry.

Many of the building’s details derive from the flamboyant of rayonnant style of the late Gothic period in France, reflecting the heritage of its congregation. The sandstone is cut in square and rectangular shapes and randomly laid. The stones of the piers, water table and window surrounds are smoothly finished at the edge and hammer dressed toward the center. Stepped lancet arches of the portals show indications of horizontal tooling on the vertical faces of the arch.

Deconsecrated by the Catholic Church in 1966, the building housed a flea market in the 1970s and 1980s and was the scene of a horror movie early in the 1990s. Over three decades, the building was vacant or underutilized. From 1966 to 1994, the building received no maintenance. Beginning in 1994, efforts to rescue the building began. Volunteers, donations and grants have reversed the pattern of neglect that nearly doomed one of Calumet’s most significant and dominant structures. ( http://pasty.com/heritage/ )
(I couldn't find this church on the internet and I can't remember which church it was or even if it still had its church name, as I think it has been empty a long time.) 
 (A lot of the buildings downtown were vacant and up for sale. Got any ideas for a business you'd like to start up in the far North?)

At the turn of the twentieth century, the threat of fire was constant in what was then a prosperous mining town.[2] The construction of the fire station was started in 1898 and completed in 1899, using plans made by architect C. K. Shand.[4] Although the station was built by the village of Calumet (then "Red Jacket"), the lot on which it sits was leased from the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company until 1910, when the company deeded it to the village.[4] The total cost of the building at the time was just over $20,000, including architectural work, stonework, and carpentry.[4]

In 1964, the fire department moved to the town hall building.[2] The building was used in various ways, including rooms for summer repertory performers at the nearby Calumet Theatre.[4] It now houses the Upper Peninsula Fire Fighters Memorial Museum.[3]

The Village of Calumet was incorporated in 1875 when it was the center of the copper mining industry in North America. As the community grew, the Town Hall was built in 1886; and in 1898, with a huge surplus in the treasury, it was decided that an opera house was needed to serve the community. At that time the village had a population of approximately 4000 and more than 30,000 lived within walking distance.

The Theatre opened on March 20, 1900 with a touring Broadway production of Reginald DeKoven's The Highwaymen. In the ensuing years, the Theatre's marquee read like a Who's Who of American Theatre: Madame Helena Modjeska, Lillian Russell, John Phillip Sousa, Sarah Bernhardt, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Lon Chaney, Sr., Jason Robards, Sr., James O'Neill, William S. Hart, Frank Morgan, Wallace and Noah Beery, and Madame Schumann-Heink, to name a few.

With the decline of copper mining and the local economy, and the advent of motion pictures, stage productions became less common in the late 1920s. From the depression through the late 1950s, it was almost exclusively a movie theatre, operated by several different local interests over the years. Summer stock returned in 1958, ran for nearly 10 years, and then came back under the auspices of Michigan State University in 1972.

The auditorium was renovated for the village's centennial in 1975, and the exterior was restored in 1988-89. The technical and code improvements and backstage reconstruction have just been completed.
The Theatre annually hosts 60-80 events with a total attendance of nearly 20,000. Nearly all of the performing arts disciplines are represented, including symphony, folk music, jazz, opera, theatre, dance, and community events, as well as public meetings and guided tours.

The Calumet Theatre is a National Historic Landmark. ( http://www.calumettheatre.com/about/26 )


Susan Marlene Kinney said...

Hi Chris!! I love history and old bluildings!! We are kindred spirits in this way! I need to get with Debby and find out how to place a link on my blog for yours. For now though I will copy your web address and put a shout out for you. I get a trickel of look-seeers but your writings should be seen!! :)You are so wise to place your blog on FB!! I had fun getting to know you during Becy McLafferty's How To Get Published conference!! I'm soooo glad you were there!! :)

Chris Loehmer Kincaid said...

Thanks, Sue, you are awesome!