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Hancock in Houghton County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Old Main / Suomi College

 
 
Old Main (<i>marker side 1</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 2, 2017
1. Old Main (marker side 1)
Inscription.  
Old Main
Suomi College was founded in 1896 by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The cornerstone of Old Main, the first building erected at Suomi College, was laid on May 30, 1898. Jacobsville sandstone, quarried at the Portage Entry of the Keweenaw waterway, was brought here by barge, cut, and used to construct Old Main. Dedicated on January 21, 1900, it contained a dormitory, kitchen, laundry, classrooms, offices, library, chapel, and lounge. The burgeoning college quickly outgrew this building, and in 1901 a frame structure, housing a gym, meeting hall, and music center was erected on an adjacent lot. The frame building was demolished when Nikander Hall, named for Suomi’s founder, J. K. Nikander, was constructed in 1939. The hall was designed by the architectural firm of Saarinen and Swanson.

Suomi College
In the 1880s large numbers of Finns immigrated to Hancock to labor in the copper and lumber industries. One immigrant, mission pastor J. K. Nikander of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, headquartered in Hancock, wanted to ensure seminary training in America. He had
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observed that Swedish and Finnish immigrants along the Delaware River did not train new ministers, and he feared a loss of Finnish identity. In 1896 Nikander founded Suomi College. The college’s role was to preserve Finnish culture, train Lutheran ministers and teach English. During the 1920s Suomi became a liberal arts college. In 1958 the seminary separated from the college. Four years later the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America merged with other mainstream Lutheran churches.
 
Erected 1991 by Bureau of History, Michigan Department of State. (Marker Number S211.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureChurches & ReligionEducationSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Michigan Historical Commission series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1896.
 
Location. 47° 7.602′ N, 88° 35.354′ W. Marker is in Hancock, Michigan, in Houghton County. Marker is at the intersection of Quincy Street (U.S. 41) and Dakota Street, on the right when traveling west on Quincy Street. Marker is located on the grounds of the "Old Main" building of Finlandia University, directly in front of the subject building, just to the left of the sidewalk leading to the front entrance. Touch for map
Suomi College (<i>marker side 2</i>) image. Click for full size.
2. Suomi College (marker side 2)
. Marker is at or near this postal address: 601 Quincy Street, Hancock MI 49930, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Finnish American National Historical Archive & Museum (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hancock / Town Hall and Fire Hall (approx. 0.2 miles away); 321 Quincy Street (approx. ¼ mile away); The First Finnish Newspaper in America (approx. half a mile away); Industry (approx. 0.7 miles away); Copper Range Railroad Depot 1899 (approx. 0.7 miles away); Growth and Change (approx. 0.9 miles away); Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hancock.
 
More about this marker. This is a two-sided marker: Old Main (side 1) and Suomi College (side 2).
 
Regarding Old Main / Suomi College. Finlandia University is the only private university in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Founded in 1896 as The Suomi College and Theological Seminary, it is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Old Main Building (1899): Michigan State Historic Site (1959), National Register of Historic Places (1972).
 
Also see . . .  Old Main, Suomi College. Old Main, Suomi College is an educational
Old Main / Suomi College Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 2, 2017
3. Old Main / Suomi College Marker (wide view)
building located on Quincy Street on the Finlandia University campus in Hancock, Michigan. It is also known as the Suomi College Building. Old Main is a three-story Richardsonian Romanesque building constructed from rough Jacobsville sandstone. It has a gabled roof with wall dormers. The main entrance is surmounted by an arch, with a large bay window and tower above. Heavy buttresses divide the windows and support the tower. The building originally contained everything required for the young college: a dormitory, kitchen, and laundry, as well as classrooms, offices, a library, chapel and lounge. As of 2009, the building houses administrative offices such as Financial Aid, Admissions, and the Office of Student Accounts. (Submitted on August 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Suomi College Sidewalk Marker (<i>mounted on sidewalk in front of the Old Main building</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 2, 2017
4. Suomi College Sidewalk Marker (mounted on sidewalk in front of the Old Main building)
Suomi College and Theological Seminary was founded by Finnish immigrants in 1896 to educate their children and to train Finnish-speaking clergy for the Suomi Synod (Finnish Evangelical Lutheran) congregations. The first classes were held in a rented building further west on Quincy St., before Old Main was constructed in 1899. The first graduating class was 11 men and women. Renamed Finlandia University in 2000, it is the only existing university in North America founded by Finnish immigrants.
Old Main / Suomi College Building (<i>marker visible left of entrance</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 2, 2017
5. Old Main / Suomi College Building (marker visible left of entrance)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 448 times since then and 69 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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May. 23, 2024