Get your (Michigan) ghost town on!

through-the-never-central-mine-powder-house

through the never, photo by Marty Hogan

mLive’s Emily Bingham has a feature on 11 eerie & intriguing ghost towns in Michigan that is definitely worth checking out. The slide for the Upper Peninsula ghost town of Central says:

This abandoned village on the U.P.’s Keweenaw Peninsula was a company town of nearly 1,300 residents, many of them German and Cornish immigrants who’d come to work in the copper mines. The town had a post office, three-story school, and one of the first telephone services in Copper Country. The mine closed in 1898, only four decades after it had opened, and residents quickly left to find work elsewhere. All that remains are thirteen houses and a Methodist church, maintained by the Keweenaw Historical Society; every year on the last Sunday of July, locals and descendants of the Central Mine villagers attend a special service at the church to honor those who lived there.

If you’re looking to get more ghost town goodness, look no further than Marty Hogan! His photo albums get up close and personal some of Michigan’s coolest forgotten communities. View this photo background bigilicious and see more in his Central slideshow.

Flyby of Detroit’s Book Tower

flyby-of-the-book-tower-in-detroit

Fly By, photo by Tom Hughes

Historic Detroit is definitely one of the best websites if you want to dig deeper into the history of Michigan’s largest city. Dan Austin’s entry on the Book Tower & Book Building has current and historical photo galleries of both buildings, map and an extensive account about the history of the structure. It says in part:

She’s one of a kind. Some might even say beautiful in its ugliness.

No skyscraper in Detroit, let alone the Midwest, looks quite like the Book Tower on Washington Boulevard. It’s a rather awkward-looking building, whether you look at its unusual maze of an external fire escape or the intricate, over-the-top details on its crown that are tough to appreciate without a pair of binoculars. It’s an undeniably unique piece of the city’s skyline and a rare breed of classical Renaissance-style architecture and skyscraper. As an added bonus, joined at its hip is one of the city’s oldest surviving office buildings.

The 36-story Book Tower opened in 1926 on the southwest corner of Grand River Avenue and Washington, coincidentally, the original lot that the Books’ grandfather had bought on the boulevard. Its first tenant was Detroit Bond & Mortgage. At 475 feet tall, the Book Tower would lay claim to the title of tallest building in town. Though it would hold the honor only briefly: The 47-story Penobscot Building would overtake it two years later. Today, the Book Tower is good for only the seventh-tallest landmark in town.

 

…Intricately carved Corinthian columns, florets, scrolls and crests are all over the place. Horizontal bands of Italian Renaissance ornamentation break up the towering skyscraper with nude female figures gracing its midsection like a belt. Nearly from ground to the top of the 36th floor, the building is covered in detail. Ferry quotes Kamper as saying, with a trace of a Bavarian accent, “I like it varm.” “Varm” or not, Kamper’s strategy on the Book tower didn’t work. His decision has been ridiculed and criticized by critics almost from the onset for not realizing the limitations on designing a structure so tall. He didn’t take a fire evacuation route into consideration when designing it, necessitating the addition of the unusual fire escape all the way down the tower. Kamper had the building faced in a porous limestone that sucked up pollutants in the air, making it almost impossible to keep clean.

Read on for lots more and follow HistoricDetroit.org on Facebook – good stuff!

View Tom’s photo bigger, see more in his Detroit slideshow, and view and purchase work from his website.

More buildings & architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

Looking up at Detroit’s One Woodward Avenue

one-woodward-detroit-michigan

One Woodward, Detroit MI, photo by sbmeaper1

Denise McGeen’s article on One Woodward Avenue at HistoricDetroit.org says (in part):

At the heart of Detroit’s Civic Center, towering over Hart Plaza, Woodward Avenue and the Detroit River stands One Woodward, one of Detroit’s most celebrated mid-century modern structures.

The building was commissioned in 1958 by the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company Building. Detroit architect Minoru Yamasaki designed the skyscraper in association with the firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls. The building would open in 1963 and marked a first for Yamasaki, who had never designed a skyscraper before. The building incorporates a pre-cast concrete exterior, narrow windows, Gothic arches, decorative tracery and sculptural gardens that later became the architect’s signature motifs. It has been called the fore-runner to Yamasaki’s renowned World Trade Center in New York.

…The tower’s all-welded, steel frame is clad with two-story, pre-cast concrete panels that hold 4,800 vertical hexagon-shaped floor-to-ceiling windows. The panels hang above the exterior terrace as if dripping from the building’s frame. Hexagonal grillwork wraps the building’s top two stories. The roofline features delicate crenellation — an architectural feature similar to a castle’s battlements.

Read on for much more including the challenges this project posed for Yamasaki as his first project.

View sbmeaper1’s photo big as a skyscraper and see more in their slideshow.

More architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

Happy Internaut Day, Michigan!

Lets Dance Audaciously by Ryan Munson

Let’s Dance Audaciously, photo by Ryan Munson

Today (August 23, 2016) is, Internaut Day, the 25th anniversary of the official launch of the the World Wide Web. Some fun facts and some not so fun ones:

  • At least 40 percent of the world has access to the internet
  • Detroit has the worst rate of Internet access of any big American city, with four in 10 of its 689,000 residents lacking broadband (NYT)
  • There are 3.4 billion internauts as of 1 July 2016, half of these are on Facebook.
  • The Michigan Infrastructure Commission is looking for input on citizen hopes for Michigan’s future connectivity.
  • There are at least 1 billion websites on the WWW
  • At least 48.5 percent of internet traffic in 2015 was generated only by bots
  • We search for 56,000 items per second on Google
  • We send 2.5 million emails per second
  • Lolcats is worth $2 million

Ryan took this photo at the University of Michigan Computer Science & Engineering building. View it background big and see more in his slideshow.

North Breakwater

Ludington North Breakwater Light

North Breakwater Light, photo by Mark Miller

The entry for Ludington North Breakwater Light at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light details a ton of the history of this lighthouse including the reason for its interesting appearance:

Over the summer of 1924, a unique structure took shape at the end of the North Breakwater. The main tower, fabricated of steel plates over an internal steel skeleton, took the form of a four-sided pyramidal tower with four round porthole windows on each of the three decks within. With plans calling for the installation of an air diaphragm fog signal operated by an electrically powered compressor, there was no need for a large fog signal building, and thus the signal building took the form of a relatively small structure integrated into the base of the landward side of the main tower. In order to help protect the structure from the force of waves crashing across the breakwater, the concrete foundation at the base of the structure was formed with angled surfaces designed to deflect the force of wave action up and away from the building.

The white painted tower was capped by a square gallery and an octagonal iron lantern installed at its center. Since the standard lantern design being used by the Lighthouse Service in new construction at this time was of circular conformation with diagonal astragals, it is likely (but unconfirmed) that the lantern used on this new light was transferred from the South Pierhead beacon which the new light was designed to replace.

Click through for more including a number of old photos.

View Mark’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More lighthouses and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Wienerlicious

Wienerlicious, Mackinaw City

Wienerlicious, Mackinaw City, June, 2016, photo by Norm Powell

Remember folks: I don’t take the photos, choose the titles … or name businesses Wienerlicious. That said, have a Wienerlicious Wednesday Friday!

View Norm’s photo bigger, click for more of his Pure Michigan photos, and view & purchase photos at normpowellphotography.com.

More Roadside awesomeness on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan Front Porch is the World’s Longest!

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel in the Early 2016 Season, photo by Corey Seeman

The Grand Hotel opened on Mackinac Island in the summer of 1887. At 660 feet, Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest. They note that early on the porch became the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, a promenade for the elderly, and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Their History photo gallery has a couple of cool photos of the porch from back in the day.

Corey took this last weekend when the Hotel opened for the season. View it background bigtacular and click for tons more of his Mackinac Island photos.

More about the Grand Hotel on Michigan in Pictures, and here’s a video look at the porch:

 

#TBT: Detroit’s Masonic Temple

masonic temple auditorium detroit

masonic temple, photo by ryan southen

On April 27, 1764, a charter for the “Zion Lodge of Masons, No. 1” – the first Masonic Lodge west of the Alleghenies – was granted to Masons in Detroit. Since I’m going to see Portugal the Man/Cage the Elephant there next weekend, that’s close enough for me to learn a little bit more…

Detroit’s Masonic Temple (aka The Masonic) is the largest building of its kind in the world. Construction began in 1920 and was completed in 1926. They explain:

By 1908, interest and membership in Masonic fraternities had grown to such an extent that the Masonic Temple Association of Detroit began to consider either enlarging the existing Masonic Temple on Lafayette Boulevard or building a new, larger facility.

Land on Bagg Street (now Temple Avenue) was acquired and by 1920, the architectural firm George Mason and Company had completed an integrated design of a multi-function complex. Ground was broken on Thanksgiving Day, 1920. The cornerstone was laid on September 18, 1922, during a ceremony attended by thousands of Detroiters, using a trowel previously used by George Washington during the construction of the U.S. Capitol.

Significantly, the opening of the theater was celebrated during a concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ossip Gabrilowitsch, on February 22, 1926–George Washington’s birthday. The formal dedication of the building took place on Thanksgiving Day, 1926. Once again, thousands of Detroiters were present for the ceremony.

George Mason’s unique design included three theaters (one was never completed, but is sometimes used by movie-production crews), a Shrine building, the Chapel, eight lodge rooms, a 17,500 square foot drill hall, two ballrooms, office space, a cafeteria, dining rooms, a barber shop, 16 bowling lanes–1037 rooms in total–in addition to a powerhouse that generated all electricity for the complex.

Mason also incorporated the artistic conceptions of the sculptor, Corrado Parducci, in the building’s magnificent lobby, which was an adaptation of the interior of a castle he had visited in Palermo, Sicily. Parducci also designed light fixtures and chandeliers, decorative arches, medallions, plaster decorations, and a myriad of other artistic details that are unique to the many varied spaces in the building.

Head over to The Masonic for lots of panoramic tours and also a panoramic view of the Corner Stone Laying. Also, if the name George Mason rings a bell, click that link to learn about this prolific architect whose works include Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel!

View Ryan’s photo bigger, see more in his HDR slideshow, and follow him on Facebook at Ryan Southen Photography.

PS: Lots more Michigan architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

PPS: It’s also supposedly very haunted!

Lapeer Courthouse, oldest in Michigan

Downtown Lapeer MI

Downtown Lapeer MI, photo by paula liimatta

Wikipedia says that the the Lapeer County Courthouse is the oldest original courthouse structure still in use in the state of Michigan, and one of the ten oldest in the nation.

The City of Lapeer’s history page adds:

Folklore claims Lapeer was derived from the naming of the south branch of the Flint River, which flows northwestward over quite a long distance of rocky bed in Lapeer County. French and Indian traders frequently passed over this section of the county and through the river, ultimately naming our city for the stone that lay at the river bottom. The translation of stone in French is “LePierre”; the English translation of Canadian French accent of this word is “Lapeer”. The river was named Flint, synonymous with stone.

Lapeer County was once part of the Northwest Territory. By an ordinance of the Congress of the United States passed July 13th, 1787, the whole of the territory of the United States lying northwest of the Ohio River, though still occupied by the British, was organized as the Northwest Territory. In January of 1820 the County of Oakland was formed. Governor Lewis Cass set Lapeer County’s boundaries on September 18th, 1822, although it remained part of Oakland County until it was organized. Lapeer County officially became a county on February 2nd, 1835.

Read on for more and click for information about renting the courthouse.

View Paula’s photo background big and see more in her 2016 slideshow.

Charles Stewart Mott and the Mott Foundation Building

Mott Foundation Building in Flint

The Mott Foundation Building in Flint, photo by Steve Brown

My post on Tuesday generated a little controversy because I stated who I was supporting in Michigan’s primary and also that I’d continue to share my personal opinions here on Michigan in Pictures. Most readers who commented agreed, including Jim Schaefer who shared the most powerful comment I’ve ever read on my work:

Dear Farlane…I’m so glad you posted item #4 today along with the great photo. I had to move to Sheboygan, WI in 2014 for health reasons, leaving behind 45-yrs of life in Flint, MI. I’ve been saving your photos and their accompanying stories on a daily basis for several years now in their own special folder on my laptop. They are my daily reminder about all of the good things about Michigan that some Michigan residents seem to take for granted.

Unfortunately, some of these same people have conveniently forgotten about your 1st Amendment rights to editorialize on your own website. Shame on them! I am also a 72-yr old Army veteran who served a 13-month tour in a combat zone in Korea in 1966. That’s why I’m so glad that you reminded people to vote today. I was drafted against my will back in 1966 but I served my country and did my job over there and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone take away my right to vote. So you keep right on posting all of those great photos along with the Michigan history behind them.

May God bless you always…Jim Schaefer

God bless you too Jim, and here’s something for your desktop folder from Flint! The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation shares this about their founder:

Charles Stewart Mott
Charles Stewart Mott

Charles Stewart Mott established the C.S. Mott Foundation in 1926, in response to his deep concern about the welfare of Flint, Mich., as well as his abiding affection for his adopted community.

An automotive pioneer, Mr. Mott was an original partner in the creation of the General Motors Corporation, founded in Flint in 1908. As one of the city’s leading industrialists, Mr. Mott was elected mayor, serving three terms (1912–13, 1918) during periods of overwhelming and turbulent growth in the city. As mayor he was responsible for instituting fair property assessments, orderly accounting audits, health and safety ordinances, building codes and a house numbering system.

Read more about Mott in Autos not Apples. Here’s a few facts about the 16-story Art Deco building that bears his name and houses the Mott Foundation:

  • Flint’s first skyscraper with a total height of 226 feet to the top of the passenger elevator penthouse.
  • Designed by Smith, Hunchman & Grylls (SmithGroup) the oldest practicing architectural firm in the US.
  • Construction took one year to complete at a cost of approximately $2,000,000.
  • Original design included seven retail stores on the first floor. There were also originally men’s rooms on every floor, but women’s restrooms only on every other floor.
  • The Freight elevator is still operated with the vintage 1930 controls.
  • Building name was changed to the Mott Foundation Building on January 1, 1945.

View Steve’s photo big as a building and see more in his Flint, Michigan slideshow.

More Flint and more architecture on Michigan in Pictures. Also check out this guide to the architecture of Flint for more of the city’s architectural heritage.