Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Menominee Michigan: Historical Tidbits (Part 2, 1900-1928)

Menominee’s downtown historic district from the marina

Dear George,
Recently (3-11-14) I posted some writeups of historically significant places in my Upper Peninsula hometown of Menominee.  That first batch all dealt with places that originated before 1900.  This is a continuation of that post, here covering landmarks that go back to a period from 1900 to 1928).  I should note that I have no particular expertise about Menominee history but have compiled this information from a number of sources on the Internet.  For the interested reader, there’s a great deal more information available at the websites listed at the end of this posting.  I took the photos below between 1990 and 2011.  I hope that this journey back into Menominee’s history proves enjoyable.

Menominee Post Office
When my dad was in the navy in World War II, my mom Doris, my brother Steve, and I lived on the second floor of an apartment building at Sheridan Road and Quimby, right next door to the post office.  I was 7 or 8, old enough to be sent on errands to buy stamps at the Post Office or mail letters.  It was a scary responsibility, but I managed to do it.  The Post Office, an impressive building, was built at 110 Quimby (Sixth Ave.) in 1900-1902.  It was designed in the Beau Arts style by a government architect named A. A. Packard and was intended to resemble an Italian Palazzo.  The exterior is marble, brick, and red sandstone.  (10)  [Note: numbers in parentheses refers to sources listed at end.]

Riverside Country Club
My parents and many family friends were members of the Riverside Country Club, and we children started taking lessons and playing there when we were ten or eleven.  We also enjoyed family dinners there over the years, Riverside having become the location of family reunion outings in adulthood.  The Riverside Golf Club was originally a private club called the Menominee River Club.  It was established in 1901 and is the oldest golf club in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  The clubhouse was built in 1928, designed by architect A. H Jolly.  It represents a mix of Northwoods and parkland-stye architecture.  When I played there in the 1950's, the course consisted in nine holes spread out along the Menominee River, west of the city and just east of Riverside Cemetery.  Decades ago it was upgraded to eighteen holes.   The course today is 5,628 yards long and has a par of 71.  I myself traded in golf for tennis when I couldn’t break 55 for 9 holes.  (14)

The Menominee Opera House 
When I was in grade school we'd go every Saturday to the Menominee Theater to take in a Saturday afternoon matinee.  Even before that I went there with my dad to see a community theater play in which my mother played a tiger.  According to family stories, in the middle of the performance I yelled out at the top of my voice, "That's my Mom!," eliciting lots of laughter from the audience.  All of this occurred in what used to be the Menominee Opera House in the downtown waterfront district.  The opera house was funded by local lumber barons at the turn of the last century in an effort to enhance Menominee's cultural life.  The building was designed by a Chicago architect, George O. Garnsey, and was constructed in 1902.  It had a fully rigged stage house, four dressing rooms, and 1,000 seats in eight boxes, an orchestra section, mezzanine, and gallery. The eight-musician orchestra was led by Jean Mautpas.   Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.50.  The Opera House was the pride of the city during Menominee's lumber boom and was regarded as the finest theater north of Milwaukee.  Road shows regularly performed there, including famous acts such as Maude Adams, John Philip Sousa, and Texas Guinan.  The opera house also hosted political rallies, suffrage meetings, and local theater and musical productions.  However, as technology advanced and movies became more popular, the kind of entertainment provided by opera houses faded.  The opening of the competing Lloyd Theater in 1929 caused economic failure for the Menominee Opera House.  Ownership reverted to the city, and it functioned as a community auditorium for graduations and high school class plays from 1929 to 1947.  In 1950 a fire broke out and severely damaged the building.  In 1952 a new owner removed the seats and repoured the floor with concrete in order to use the building as a warehouse for storing paper pulp.  The Vennema family purchased the building about 1979 and donated it to the newly formed Menominee Opera House Project in 2004.  The goal today is to restore the building to its original purpose as a live performance and community event venue.  (5, 13)   

The Spies Public Library
Washington Grade School was located a block away from the Spies Public Library, and we became accustomed to being regular library users through many classroom field trips to the children’s library in the basement.  The library continued to be important in my teenage years, and now we visit it every time we return to Menominee.  Lumberman Augustus Spies presented the city with a beautiful, completely furnished library building in 1904.  It was located on Main St. (now First St.) at the site of the former home of Judge E. S. Ingalls.  The building was built in the style of a French Country Chateau.  There is a stained glass skylight in the entrance.  The first Board of Trustees of the new public library included A. L. Sawyer (president), Charles A. Spies, R. M. Andrews, Dr. Walter R. Hicks, Mrs. John W. Wells, and mayor George H. Haggerson (ex officio).   Mrs. Gertrude B. Munger was the first librarian.  The new library held 10,000 volumes.  In 1995 voters approved a bond issue for an addition and restoration of the main building.  (3, 10)

Menominee Herald-Leader
The Herald-Leader was Menominee’s daily paper throughout my youth.  My dad would take me over to visit the editorial offices once in a while, and my mother, Steve, and I lived in an apartment right across the street during the war.  The Herald-Leader had a long history in the city.  The Menominee Herald, a Republican newspaper edited by E. S. Ingalls, began publishing on Sept. 10, 1863.  It began a daily edition in 1894 but ceased publication in 1904.  A rival paper, The Evening Leader, began publication by Joe E. Soults in 1890, then became the Menominee Daily Leader in 1901.  On May 14, 1904, the Daily Leader and the Menominee Herald merged to form the Daily Herald-Leader.  The title was changed to Menominee Herald-Leader in 1908, then shortened to Herald-Leader in 1965.  Jean Worth, my parents’ close friend, was Editor of the Herald-Leader from 1943 to 1955.  In 1995 the Herald-Leader merged with the Marinette Eagle-Star to form the Eagle Herald, published daily (except Sundays and holidays) in Marinette.  (8)

The Commercial Bank
I had my first savings account at the Commercial Bank when in grade school.  If I’m remembering correctly, I used to bring a dime to school each week and put it in a slot in my Xmas Club book.  Later I deposited the bulk of my paychecks from my drugstore clerk job in the bank in my teenage years.  I had about $600 when I went off to college.  The Commercial Bank was organized on October 2, 1905.  It arrived later than Menominee's other two banks of the era, the First National Bank (1884) and the Lumberman's National Bank (1890).  According to A. L. Sawyer (1911), it had a capital stock of $65,000 with surplus and individual profits of over $13,000 and deposits of over $250,000.  George H. Haggerson was President; Jerry Madden, Vice President; and H. H. Kern, Cashier.  (3) 

Henes Park
I think many people would agree that Henes Park is Menominee’s top attraction for leisure activities.  It has a swimming beach on Green Bay, picnic areas and shelters, softball fields, hiking trails, gorgeous views, and, in the past, a small zoo and a large buffalo and deer pen.  We played there a lot as kids, especially when visiting the O’Hara’s or the Caleys who lived just up the beach.  When Katja and I had our own family, we’d go there with our son J and enjoy the same pursuits I had as a child.  Henes Park is over a hundred years old.  In 1906 local businessman John Henes paid $1,000 for a 43-acre peninsula called Poplar Point on the Green Bay shore at the north edge of the city.  He kept his plans secret for a year, then offered the land to city council for use as a park and a beach.  The city hired landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds of Chicago to design the park.  Simonds was known as a pioneer of "natural landscaping," and his design emphasized eight nature trails named after literary greats, e.g., Longfellow, Byron, Shakespeare, and Homer.  All eight trails still exist today.  Henes Park was dedicated in October of 1907.  The featured speaker, U.S. Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan, described the Henes Park as "a park that will forever be the property of every man, every woman and principally every child in this city and one where beauty, recreation and rest will be synonymous."   And that proved to be the truth.  (16)

The Lloyd Manufacturing Company
Marshall B. Lloyd was born in St. Paul in 1858.  Successful in inventing new techniques for manufacturing woven wire doors, bed springs, and wire wheels for baby carriages, he sold his Minneapolis business and transferred his machinery to his new Lloyd Manufacturing Company in Menominee in 1907.  At the Menominee plant Lloyd invented a new method of weaving wicker which revolutionized the industry.  While it had taken an expert nine hours to weave the wicker for a baby carriage, the same job could be done in 18 minutes with the Lloyd Loom.  The Lloyd plant came to employ hundreds of area workers and supplied Lloyd Loom baby carriages throughout the world.  In World War II 250 Lloyd employees joined the military, women replaced men on the factory floor, and 85% of the company's work was in war production.  The Lloyd/Flanders Co. today produces wicker lawn furniture and  remains one of the twin cities most important industries.  (6)   

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
My family members were only occasional church attenders.  However, because we got together so often with the O’Hara kids, we’d be more likely to go with them to mass at their church, St. John’s.  The St. John parish dates back to 1873 and is the oldest religious organization in Menominee county.  The original church cost $4,000 and had a membership of 150 families.  The first pastor was Rev. Martin A. Fox.  The St. John the Baptist Church was built in 1921-22.  The architect, Derrick Hubert, was a member of the parish.  It's a red-brick Late Gothic Revival building with a gable roof and a square tower projecting from the facade.  The church's stained glass windows were reportedly made in Munich, Germany.  The church was closed because of a parish merger in 1972, and the Menominee County Historical Society bought the building in 1972, then opened its Heritage museum there.  (7, 15)   

The Lloyd Building
The Lloyd Buildings is the largest building in Menominee’s downtown waterfront district.  It was a frequent family destination in my childhood because it housed the Montgomery Ward Department Store, the A&P Grocery, and (best of all) the Lloyd movie theater where I was thrilled by Hopalong Cassidy and the Marx Brothers.  In 1924, when Menominee's only department store was destroyed by fire, citizens appealed to Marshall Burns Lloyd, owner of the Lloyd Loom Company, for help, and he decided to help finance a new community department store and theater downtown.  1500 residents invested more than $500,000 in the new enterprise, and, when Lloyd encountered difficulty finding a tenant, he leased the building himself and created "The Wonder Store", travelling abroad to establish buying connections.  The store and the Lloyd Theater opened in October, 1926, with a huge parade and community celebration.  However, Lloyd died less than a year later, and the store was sold to Lauerman Brothers of Marinette.   With the onset of the Great Depression, the original Lloyd store was closed.  In 1940, however, local citizens, led by Mayor Michael C. Olsen and Chamber of Commerce member John Fernstrum, negotiated with the Montgomery Ward Co. of Chicago for Ward's long-term lease of the building.  The building was remodeled, and Wards held its grand reopening on Sept. 4, 1940.  The department store occupied the first, second, and fourth floors.  The third floor was later occupied by the Menominee Glove Co., which produced gloves for the U.S. armed forces during World War II, and the south end of the basement was occupied by the A&P grocery chain.  The Ward's store operated from 1940 till 1969, by which time FNT industries had taken over the upper floors.  (2, 12)        

The Menominee North Pier Light
Menominee is an important Great Lakes port, and the lighthouse signals the route into the Menominee River as well as identifying the shoreline.  The Menominee North Pier lighthouse, located in Menominee's harbor area, was first established in 1877.  The current structure opened in 1927, and its light is still operational today.  It was automated in 1972.  The 34-foot tall octagonal lighthouse is set on a concrete pier.  The tower is red, with a black lantern and a white base.  The original lighthouse had a fog signal structure attached, but that was later removed.  One can walk to the lighthouse at the end of the pier, though the tower itself is closed.  (11) 

The Interstate Bridge
The twin cities of Menominee, Mich., and Marinette, Wisc., are connected by three automobile bridges, the Interstate Bridge carrying Highway 41 traffic being the most important thoroughfare.  For northbound tourists it’s the entryway to the Upper Peninsula; for southbound traveller’s, it’s the first step in one’s Wisconsin journey to Green Bay or Milwaukee.  The bridge was a significant part of my youth, practically and symbolically.  We'd sometimes walk across it to go to the movies in Marinette, and it became a daily part of our "cruising the loop" as teenage drivers.  The first bridges across the Menominee River were built in 1865 and then in 1872, and a drawbridge was added in 1897 that connected downtown Marinette and Menominee's Frenchtown neighborhood at what’s now 19th St.  The first Interstate Bridge, built in 1929, replaced the earlier bridges and was built at an angle across the river.  It cost $700,000 ($5.27 million in today's dollars).  It was 850 feet long and included eleven 80-foot spans.  The Interstate Bridge was rehabbed in 1970 and then was replaced on its existing foundations in 2004-05.  Catherine Anderson, who participated in the 1930 dedication ceremony cut the ribbon in the 2005 dedication.  (4) 

 The Menominee Breakwater
The Breakwater shelters local and visiting boats from what can often be stormy waves in Green Bay.  People do a lot of fishing there for perch, sunfish, and crappies, and it offers a scenic view of the downtown Menominee skyline for leisure walkers.  The Menominee Breakwater was constructed in 1932 as a WPA project.  It’s been recently restored and expanded and is the focus of many activities on the waterfront.  The Marina currently offers docks with 261 slips and 20 inner wall tie-ups. (10)

The Band Shell
Marina Park faces the breakwater, and the Band Shell is at its north end. The Band Shell is the center of the annual Waterfront Festival, summer concerts, and other festivities which we’ve always attending at family reunions.  Derrick Hubert, a Menominee architect, designed the Band Shell, and it was built in 1932.  It was designed to be used both as a band shell and to house the local yacht club, and it’s been recently restored by the M & M Yacht Club to further that original purpose.  (10)

Menominee County Airport
When Katja and I were young marrieds and living in Ann Arbor, we’d fly from Detroit to Menominee on North Central Airlines (home of the Grey Goose) and disembark at the Menominee airport.  In 1928 Menominee became the first county in Michigan to establish a county airport.  The original airport was on M-35 along the bay.  In 1940 the city and county joined forces to purchase land for a new airport which was expected to be the second largest in the state, next to Detroit.  The new airport was to be located on the city's west side, within two miles of downtown.  The plan called for four runways, ranging from 3600 feet to approximately one mile.  According to a 1940 brochure, because of Menominee's strategic location in the Upper Great Lakes area, it was expected that the new airport would be important "in the interest of national defense...wrecking of the Soo canal would bottle up the entire fleet of ore carriers in Lake Superior...High speed army planes could reach any one of these four vital points within an hour's time from a Menominee base."  Fortunately, all that never proved to be necessary.  (9)  

(1) “Centennial History of Menominee County (1876),” E. S. Ingalls, www.books.google.com;
(2) "Community Building took on new identity," Larry Ebsch, Jan. 31, 2011,  www.ehextra.com;
(3) “A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and Its People," Alvah L. Sawyer, 1911, www.usgwarchives.net;
(4) “Interstate Bridge (Marinette, Wisconsin – Menominee, Michigan),” www.wikipedia.org;
(5) “Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide [1896]”, www.archive.org;
(6) “Marshall Burns Lloyd Photo Gallery,” www.mlloyd.org;
(7) "Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan," Lewis Publ. Co., 1895, www.books.google.com;
(8) “Menominee County (newspaper history),” www.michigannewspaperhistory;
(9) "Menominee County: The Gateway to Hiawatha Land,” 1940, www.quod.lib.umich.edu;     
(10) “Menominee Historic District Walking Tour,” www.downtownmenominee.com;
(11) “Menominee Pier Light,” www.wikipedia.org;
(12) "Obituary and articles," www.mlloyd.org;
(13) “Menominee Opera House,” www.menomineeoperahouse.org
(14)  “Riverside Country Club,” www.michigangolf.com;
(15) "St. John the Baptist Catholic Church [Menominee, Michigan],” www.wikipedia.org;
(16)"Tribute to the 100th Anniversary of Henes Park," www.capitolwords.org;

SELECTED ADDITIONAL MENOMINEE HISTORY SOURCES AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET: "Deep Woods Frontier: A History of Logging in Northern Michigan, T. J. Karamanski, 1989, www.books.google.com; "Early Days in the Lumber Business," www.rootsweb.ancestry.com; "Heritage of the Route," www.cuppad.org; "History of the Lumber and Forest Industry of the Northwest," G. W. Hotchkiss, 1898, www.books.google.com; "History of Michigan, Vol. IV," Charles Moore, 1915; “A History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan," G. N. Fuller, www.quod.lib.umich.edu; "History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Menominee County, Michigan," Western Historical Co., 1883, www.files.usgwarchives.net; "Menominee, Michigan," www.wikipedia.org; "Menominee County," www.kenanderson.net; “Menominee County,” pp. 304ff in L. R. Ashlee, “Traveling Through Time: A Guide to Michigan’s Historical Markers,” www.books.google.com; “Menominee (County Courthouse),” pp. 122-23 in J. Fedynsky, “Michigan’s County Courthouses; www.books.google.com; “Menominee County Courthouse,” www.wikipedia.org; “Menominee County: Courthouse History,” www.menomineecounty.com; "Menominee County," family history & genealogy site, www.mygenshare.com; “Menominee County, Michigan: Family History & Genealogy…,” www.linkpendiunm.com; "Menominee County, Michigan: Surnames" (biographies), www.linkpendium.com; “Menominee County Historical Society,” www.menomineehistoricalsociety.org; "Menominee County History," www.menominee.genwebsite.net; "Menominee County: Trails to the Past," www.hometownchronicles.com; "Menominee Remembered," E. C. Somerville et al., 1982, made available by the Menominee County Historical Society, www.uproc.lib.mi.us; “The Menominee Wellses,” www.menomineewellses.com;
"Recollections of a Long Life 1829-1915," by Isaac Stephenson, www.electricscotland.com; "Spies Public Library Genealogy," www.uproc.lib.mi.us; "Welcome to Menominee County Michigan," genealogy site, www.genealogytrails.com.

1 comment:

  1. This message is for the person who wrote this article or anyone who might know the history of the Vennema family or any living relatives in Menominee Michigan.
    I have come across a very interesting 1877 Trade dollar with the engraved name of Dr. H.A. Vennema from Menominee Michigan from the late 1800's and early 1900's.
    It is an opening trade dollar with a picture of a young child in it.
    I figure this to be a wonderful family keepsake and would like to try to fine someone that is a direct offspring from this family.
    I have done a little research and found most people to have passed away.
    Any help or information to try to get this wonderful time capsule and lost family heirloom to its proper family would be great.
    My email is hangman1128@aol.com and my name is Mike.
    Thanks much..