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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

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

Clubs and Associations

Historic Houghton

 
 
Clubs and Associations Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
1. Clubs and Associations Marker
Inscription.  Residents of Houghton found many outlets for social interaction, including membership in a wide variety of clubs and organizations. Some relied on the community of large extended families, while others sought the camaraderie of those with shared interests. For instance, a group of village businessmen formed The Houghton Club for "the dissemination of useful knowledge and the accumulation of a library." They constructed an impressive clubhouse in 1910, which — in addition to a library — included a dining room, parlor, billiard hall, card rooms, and overnight guest accommodations.

Across the street, local Freemasons also constructed their own significant edifice in 1910. Encompassing several traditions, the Masonic orders were committed to the intellectual improvement of members, a sense of "moral correctitude," and charitable activity. Houghton's Masonic Temple was purposely designed for ground-floor retail and second-floor office rental spaces to generate income to support the building. The top floors contained banquet rooms and the lodge hall, site of the secret rites and ceremonies of these fraternal orders. Some Freemason
Marker detail: Contents of the Masonic Temple cornerstone image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Contents of the Masonic Temple cornerstone
symbols, such as the stone mason's level, square and plumb, are worked into the stonework of the Masonic Temple building.

Other residents found familiar ground through church and ethnic groups. Immigrants in particular enjoyed the security of gathering with people familiar with their own traditions. Some nationalities were associated with specific faiths, so church organizations became gathering spots for particular ethnic groups. For instance, the Knights of Columbus in Houghton, affiliated with the St. Ignatius Catholic Church, drew German, Irish and French immigrants, while local Lutheran churches attracted many Scandinavians.

The encouragement of high moral character was evident in many organizations, religious and secular. For many men, membership in a local fraternal order provided a legitimate alternative to drinking and gambling. The dangers of alcohol were specifically targeted by number of local societies. For instance, Kupari Alueen Raittius Liitto, the local chapter of the Finnish National Brothers Temperance Association of North America, was organized to "promote the cause of temperance and take part in politics for the furtherance of the temperance cause." The work of such groups encouraged ratification of the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol from 1919 to 1933.

Ethnic clubs and
Clubs and Associations Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
3. Clubs and Associations Marker
(looking east along Shelden Avenue)
societies also provided a cultural and support link to the old country. Meetings of the Germania Society, for instance, were conducted in German and prospective members were required to speak the language. Ethnic clubs maintained other cultural traditions and customs of constituents' homelands, such as songs, dances and foods. Many associations were involved in charitable activities, particularly the provision of money to those remaining in Europe who were unable to make the journey to North America.

Other organizations were designed as beneficial or insurance fraternities. For example, the Société St. Jean Baptist de Houghton, a French-Canadian association, was begun "for the purpose of aiding its members in case of accident, sickness, mental and physical incapacity, and to provide for their necessities and for burial when deceased." For individuals traveling from distant homelands, these organizations provided an important extended family. Some groups formed insurance societies as few employers provided life or health insurance. Members of aid societies paid initiation fees and monthly dues in return for monetary benefits when they were sick or unable to work. Most of these insurance fraternities also paid a death benefit to the families of deceased members.
 
Erected by Michigan Coastal Management Program, MDEQ.
 
Topics. This historical
Masonic Temple, 1910 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
4. Masonic Temple, 1910
(directly north across Shelden Avenue from marker)
marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkChurches & ReligionFraternal or Sororal OrganizationsSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 47° 7.307′ N, 88° 33.956′ W. Marker is in Houghton, Michigan, in Houghton County. Marker is at the intersection of Shelden Avenue (U.S. 41) and Portage Street, on the left when traveling west on Shelden Avenue. Marker is located along the sidewalk, near the southwest corner of the intersection, directly in front of the former Houghton Club building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 Portage Street, Houghton MI 49931, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hotels and Saloons (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Houghton (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Amphidrome / The Birth of Professional Hockey (about 300 feet away); Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. ¼ mile away); Growth and Change (approx. 0.3 miles away); Industry (approx. half a mile away); Copper Range Railroad Depot 1899
Houghton Club, 1910 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
5. Houghton Club, 1910
(marker visible along sidewalk, near left edge)
(approx. half a mile away); The First Finnish Newspaper in America (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Houghton.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Historic Houghton Walking Tour
 
Also see . . .
1. Masonic Temple of Houghton. The four-story building is faced with Jacobsville sandstone. Smooth-faced pilaster-like elements are set off against the rough texture of the rest of the wall. Masonic emblems decorate the frieze between the brackets and the pediment of the doorway. The building is now occupied by Houghton city offices and other offices as well. (Submitted on August 2, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Houghton County History. Houghton County residents comprised one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the United States as the Federal Census of 1870 noted that 57% of the County's residents were foreign born, the third highest rate in the Country. At that time, fewer than 5% of the County's residents had American born parents. In 1900, Houghton County had the largest Chinese, Italian, Finnish, Slovenian and Croatian communities in Michigan. (Submitted on August 2, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. American Finns: The History of Finnish Immigration
Marker Mounted on Houghton Club Building image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
6. Marker Mounted on Houghton Club Building
Historic Building
Certified rehabilitation
by the
National Park Service
December 30,1992
1910-1933 • Houghton Club
1933-1991 • Community Building
1991- • U.P. Engineers & Architects, Inc.
. The Finnish immigration on a large scale began in 1864. A number of Finns came to the copper country in Upper Michigan, Houghton County, with the Norwegians who had been engaged by the Quincy Mining Company of Hancock to work in the mines there. To some extent the Finns cohere in colonies. The largest Finnish population has always been found in Houghton County, with Calumet and Hancock as its chief urban centers. (Submitted on August 2, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 55 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on August 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 2, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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