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

Hotels and Saloons

Historic Houghton

 
 
Hotels and Saloons Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
1. Hotels and Saloons Marker
Inscription.  Although many families and businesses have called Houghton their permanent home, the city has also catered to a more transient population as well. Its growth as the center of the region's major transportation routes guaranteed a steady stream of mining men, salesmen and newly-arrived immigrants. Not surprisingly, a significant service industry developed to assist this ever-changing crowd.

It is not easy to determine which preceded the others: hotels, saloons, or restaurants. As a pioneer settlement, Houghton needed to provide food, shelter, and distractions for the developing population. Lacking steady income, large savings accounts and established residential neighborhoods, many new arrivals turned to temporary accommodations for a short-term roof over their heads. Some boarded with another family, while others took advantage of rooms for rent in the villages and towns of the Keweenaw.

By 1902, Houghton boasted no fewer than 22 hotels and boarding houses. The Houghton House was a good example of simple, affordable accommodation in the early village. Located on the corner of Shelden and Huron Streets, owner William Allen offered
Marker detail: Houghton House, c. 1887 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Houghton House, c. 1887
daily and weekly boarding rates as well as "barn accommodations" for visitors' wagons, carriages and teams of horses. The establishment also operated its own saloon on the premises, with fine wines, liquors, beers and "choice cigars." Other hotels, with names like Germania and Torino, likely appealed to immigrants arriving from European nations.

Over time, hotels focused their service toward businessmen and traveling salesmen. Miller's Hotel and the Douglass House Hotel provided upscale accommodations at opposite ends of Shelden Avenue. Constructed in 1867, Miller's operated under several names for more than 100 years. Its four stories made it the tallest building in early Houghton, with a distinctive tower adding to its command of the town. The Douglass House was actually two successive buildings; the original 1861 wood frame hotel backed up against Montezuma Street along Isle Royale Street, with a comfortable veranda overlooking a tiered front lawn that spilled downward to the businesses along Shelden Avenue. The hotel was replaced in 1902 with an even more impressive brick and terra cotta edifice. The new hotel included retail storefronts housing a telegraph office and jewelry store, as well as a ground floor saloon and dining parlor.

As these examples illustrate, it was not unusual for hotels to share space with other entertainment aimed toward the city's transient
Marker detail: Miller’s Hotel (center) 1876 image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Miller’s Hotel (center) 1876
population. Saloons, restaurants, and billiard halls were common partners. The Hotel Dee, constructed on Shelden Avenue in 1900, even included a five-lane bowling alley in its basement.

The saloon trade was also successful in Houghton. As with the city's hotels, patrons could choose from a variety of levels of service. Some bars satisfied basic thirsts for alcohol and gambling. At the other end of the spectrum were establishments such as the Board of Trade bar on Isle Royale Street. Its advertisements boasted a "palm garden cafe," two private dining rooms, and furnishings that included red wainscoting, Venetian marble baseboards, golden oak furniture and ivory draperies with gold trim. A 1909 county directory listed nearly 40 saloons in the village, with 27 located along Shelden Avenue.
 
Erected by Michigan Coastal Management Program, MDEQ.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 47° 7.315′ N, 88° 34.002′ W. Marker is in Houghton, Michigan, in Houghton County. Marker is at the intersection of Shelden Avenue (U.S. 41) and Isle Royale Street, on the right when traveling west on Shelden Avenue. Marker is located on the sidewalk, near
Marker detail: Billiard hall on Shelden Avenue image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Billiard hall on Shelden Avenue
the northeast corner of the intersection. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 600 Shelden Avenue, 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. Clubs and Associations (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Houghton (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Amphidrome / The Birth of Professional Hockey (about 400 feet away); Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. ¼ mile away); Growth and Change (approx. ¼ mile away); Industry (approx. 0.4 miles away); Copper Range Railroad Depot 1899 (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 . . .  Douglass House (Wikipedia). The Douglass House is a four-story Italian Renaissance hotel constructed of buff-colored brick. The front facade features towers at the corners. A loggia with gold cupolas stretches across the front. The facade is trimmed with white-glazed terra cotta. National Register of Historic Places #82002837. (Submitted on August 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: One of Houghton’s early saloons image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: One of Houghton’s early saloons
Hotels and Saloons Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
6. Hotels and Saloons Marker
The Douglass House<br>(<i>Sheldon Avenue at Isle Royale Street</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2017
7. The Douglass House
(Sheldon Avenue at Isle Royale Street)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 1, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 66 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on August 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Feb. 28, 2021