Copper Country Architects

Biographical Dictionary of Copper Country Architects

Calumet Public Library

by Adam Gaugh.

Architect: Shaw & Hunnewell
Location: Red Jacket Road and Mine St., Calumet
Built: 1897-98

calumetpubliclibrary

Calumet Public Library. Photograph by A. Gaugh, 2006.

This striking stone building with its façade of contrasting red and gray mine rock was the Calumet Public Library. The library was built in 1897-98 for public use. When the library opened, the Copper Country Evening Newscommented that “no mining company in the world treats its employees better than the Calumet & Hecla. It has just completed a large library building which will be provided with a fine collection of books, many new ones having been added to the old list, which is free to the employees. There are baths in the building and many comforts for the workingmen to enjoy.”1  Its official name was the Public Library of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company.

The two-and-one-half-story building with its raised foundation and its Renaissance-inspired details (bracketed eaves, quoins, and dentils) resembles the General Office in style and materials. Reddish-brown rubble is joined with beaded mortar and openings, corners, and details are finished and articulated with brick. Brown-painted wood trims the building and a steeply pitched pinkish slate roof tops it.2

calumetpubliclibraryearly

Calumet Public Library. MTU Archives.

Inside, the first floor held the reception area and the stacks. A large reading room and a men’s smoking room were on the second floor. The basement contained C&H’s bathhouse, with bathtubs and showers for men and women.3

The C&H Library building ceased to function as a library in 1944. C&H managers and technical staff occupied the building until the company closed in 1968. Since then, successor firms have occupied the building and, remarkably, have left the historic fabric intact.4 Today this building is owned by the Keweenaw National Historic Park and is known as the Keweenaw History Center, housing the park’s archives and curatorial facilities.

calumetpubliclibraryinterior

Calumet Public Library, reading room. MTU Archives.

Buildings by  Shaw & Hunnewell in the Copper Country

Notes

  1. Bjorkman, “Draft Historic Structure Report.”
  2. Bjorkman, “Draft Historic Structure Report.”
  3. “Calumet and Hecla Industrial District.”
  4. Eckert, Sandstone Architecture, 153.

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