All posts by alneely

Flashback Friday: Hubbell Hall Remembered

The Michigan Tech Archives welcomes the Hubbell Family during their campus visit today. In celebration of their visit, our Flashback Friday this week features a closer look at a piece of campus history tied to the Hubbell Family — Hubbell Hall.

At the time of its establishment in 1885, the Michigan Mining School (later named Michigan College of Mines, Michigan College of Mining and Technology, and finally Michigan Technological University) occupied part of the Continental Fire Hall in downtown Houghton.

Michigan Mining School’s first campus building was the Continental Fire Hall in downtown Houghton.

As class sizes grew, additional space was needed to support the new school. To solve this issue, the Michigan Mining School developed plans for a new, larger building close to downtown that would be able to provide the additional space the school needed. In 1887 John Scott & Co. was hired as principle architects for the new building with contractors from Wahlman & Gipp and I. E. Swift Company. By 1889 the new building was completed at the intersection of Hubbell Avenue and College Avenue.

The new Romanesque-style building featured new lecture halls, gymnasium, and library. It was constructed with Jacobsville sandstone walls and featured a distinctive central tower. The building was initially referred to as State Hall or just “first school building,” according to sources, but following the death of the building’s principal benefactor, Jay A. Hubbell, its name was changed in his honor. Hubbell was a well-known politician and judge for the state of Michigan, serving as a district attorney for the Upper Peninsula and prosecuting attorney for Houghton County prior to becoming a member of the House of Representatives.

Hubbell Hall, circa 1895-1901.
Hubbell Hall eventually became the building devoted to the math and physics departments until the late 1960s when both departments relocated to another building on campus. While Hubbell Hall was a central, distinctive feature on the Michigan Tech campus for nearly 80 years, by 1968 the building was in somewhat of disrepair and demolished.
Today the 11-story R. L. Smith (MEEM) building stands in the Hubbell Hall footprint, taking its place as one of the most distinctive buildings on campus. While Hubbell Hall is no longer a feature on the campus landscape, its importance to the history of Michigan Tech is well-preserved in the memories of those who attended school while it still stood and in the records preserved by the Michigan Tech Archives.

Hubbell Hall in winter, 1968.
Demolition of Hubbell Hall, 1968.

Flashback Friday: Copper TRACES

Park Supervisor, Mac Frimodig and daughter, Karen, observe an old “skip” which was used in a Keweenaw mine to bring the rock to the surface. It is one of the hallowed relics of the old Fort museum area, May 29, 1953. Daily Mining Gazette Photograph Collection (MS-051)

This week the Michigan Tech Archives had the privilege of once again taking part in the Copper TRACES event at the Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet. This field day for area 4th graders has provided hands-on learning opportunities since 2016. Topics covered during the event focus on Technology, Research, Art and Music, Community, Environment, and Service, or TRACES. Funded by the National Park Foundation through the Open OutDoors for Kids Grants program, students get to learn everything from area geology and Great Lakes shipping to mining and immigration history.

The Michigan Tech Archives and the archival staff from KNHP have hosted a station on primary sources since the beginning of the program. Students get to learn what the different is between primary and secondary sources, how they help us learn about history, and discover how they contribute to the creation of primary source material.
In honor of this unique collaborative venture, our Flashback Friday photograph highlights the learning opportunities children and adults have thanks to programs like this and our regional heritage sites. Pictured here is Fort Wilkins State Park Supervisor, Mac Frimodig and daughter, Karen, observing an old mining skip at the Fort Wilkins museum in 1953. Used to bring rock to the surface at one of the many mining operations here in the Keweenaw, the skip now serves as a historic artifact and teaching tool.
Want to discover more about the history of the Copper Country? Visit the Keweenaw National Historical Park or any of the other amazing Keweenaw Heritage Sites this summer. More information is available on the Park website at https://www.nps.gov/kewe/learn/management/keweenaw-heritage-sites.htm.
You can also visit the Michigan Tech Archives throughout the summer, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., no appointment need.
If you want to know more about the Copper TRACES program, you can find additional information on the KNHP’s website at https://www.nps.gov/kewe/learn/education/classrooms/copper-traces.html 

Flashback Friday: Deep Roots: Unearthing the History of the Forestry Department at Michigan Tech

Happy Arbor Day, Copper Country! We’re observing today’s holiday with a Flashback Friday post commemorating the Michigan Tech Forestry Department.
Michigan Tech’s Forestry Department has deep roots on campus. Under the leadership of President Grover C. Dillman, then president of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, the Forestry Department was initiated in 1936 with a two-year degree program led by U. J. Noblet and R. B. Miller and housed in Hubbell Hall. In addition its general curriculum, the department also offered students a Forestry Club. By 1942, the department moved to the nearby Hubbell School and five years later the Institute of Wood Research was created. In the 1967 the department had expanded enough to require new facilities and in that year the U. J. Noblet Forestry and Wood Products Building was opened. That year also saw the beginning of the University’s first graduate program in forestry.
Throughout the 1970s and into the 1990s the department saw major growth in terms of student numbers and changes in technology and course curriculum. Forestry enrollment climbed to 151 new students in 1970 with female enrollment reaching 25 percent by 1975. Microcomputers replaced the department’s calculator lab in 1984 and in 1986 the department opened its first PhD program. Curriculum had now expanded to include wood and fiber utilization, land surveying, and other majors and certificates including ecology, environmental science, and wildlife ecology and management.
With all this change comes additional facility needs. In 1999 the university broke ground on a new building expansion project (pictured here) that would become home to Hesterberg and Horner Halls in 2000. Today, the Forestry Department thrives on the Michigan Tech campus. Students at the undergraduate, graduate, and PhD levels have excellent curricula to choose from and amazing facilities to learn and study in.
Celebrate Arbor Day at Michigan Tech today by attending the University’s student-led Tree Campus USA initiative event. Meet at the Husky Statue from 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. for an opening ceremony followed by a student-led campus tree walk and tree planting from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. with a reception to follow at the U. J. Noblet Forestry Building Atrium. During the reception, be sure to check out the informational tables from community and student organizations that support environmental sustainability and ecology or attend one of the tours of the U.S. Forest Service’s underground research facility, the Rhizotron.
Want to know more about the Forestry Department at Michigan Tech? Visit the Michigan Tech Archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to learn more.
Happy Arbor Day from the Michigan Tech Archives!

Flashback Friday: Ice Out, Shanties In!

Happy Flashback Friday, Copper Country. This week we’re paying tribute to that age-old rite of spring when U.P. anglers switch from ice fishing to open water fishing.

Pictured here in L’Anse in 1977, ice shanties accumulate along the Upper Peninsula waterfront after being taken off the water for the season. Many anglers are sad to have to finally throw in the towel on ice fishing season, but there’s always the promise of another big catch in the streams and open water of the coming months.
The article that accompanied this photograph from the Daily Mining Gazette noted that “at least a few brave ice fishermen still had their shacks out on the big lake when this picture was taken” and we’re not surprised. Stay safe anglers and enjoy the change of fishing seasons!
The Michigan Tech Archives has plenty more photos like this waiting to be discovered. Interested in seeing more? Hop onto our Copper Country Historical Images database at cchi.mtu.edu and browse through just a fraction of our photograph collection.

Flashback Friday: Unexpected Change: Fire at the Metallurgy Building

The Metallurgy Building on fire, March 15, 1923.

For this week’s Flashback Friday we’re remembering how quickly change can happen overnight, sometimes when you least expect it.

 The early 20th century Michigan Tech campus looked vastly different than it does today, not only in terms of the courses and degrees it offers, but its physical landscape. Many of the earliest buildings on campus are gone, lost to changes in the needs of the university or unexpectedly by disaster. Today marks the 96 anniversary of the fire that destroyed one such building.
Metallurgical building at the Michigan College of Mines.

On this date (March 15) in 1923 fire blazed through the metallurgy building at the Michigan College of Mines. According to a report in The Michigan College of Mines Alumnus from that year, students who arrived first on scene were credited with saving much of the valuable equipment inside the building. First responders reported that the fire appeared to be contained on the second floor of the building, but “minutes later the fire broke out over the whole building.” The Houghton and Hancock fire departments arrived on scene, but by then the fire had spread “into the walls and ventilation ways.”

It was clear that the building was going to be a total loss ($250,000) and not just in terms of the classroom and office space. Students lost personal possessions, records and data for experiments were destroyed, and one particular professor lost a decades worth of research notes. In its wake, classes were moved to the Chemistry Building (which had incidentally burned in 1920) and the department was forced to conduct work “with make-shift apparatus.”

Metallurgy building after the fire, 1923.

However, by September 1923, the Alumnus reported that plans for rebuilding the metallurgy building were underway and by January 1925 the publication was asking alumni to weigh in on a name for the new structure. The new metallurgy building opened for students, faculty, and staff later that year and christened McNair Hall, the college’s former president who died tragically in an accident in 1924. While this building bears the same name as a current resident hall at Michigan Tech, these were two distinct buildings.

McNair Hall. This building replaced the Metallurgy Building.
Regardless of which building it has occupied, since the establishment of the Michigan Mining School in 1885, metallurgy in one shape or form has been integral to this campus. It has evolved from mineral dressing to metallurgy, to metallurgical engineering, to metallurgical and materials engineering, before finally becoming the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2000.
Building disasters and failures like the one at the metallurgy building show how change can happen in a blink of an eye. Luckily no one was harmed and rebuilding happened in its wake. It’s a reminder that our landscapes can change quickly, that they aren’t always able to be thoughtfully planned, but even with unexpected change this campus and community continues to grow and evolve.
If you would like to know more about the metallurgy building fire, visit the Michigan Tech Archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or contact us directly by phone at (906) 487-2505 or email at copper@mtu.edu

Flashback Friday: There’s No Getting Around Winter in the Copper Country

Got snow? It certainly has been a snowy month here in the Copper Country and it looks like we’re in for another round this weekend. While some folks might be griping about all the white stuff, in the Copper Country we make the most of it, which is why we’re featuring this February 1976 photo from the Daily Mining Gazette for this week’s Flashback Friday.
Sometimes there truly is no getting around winter in this area, so what do you do? Just what Calumet native Joseph Meneguzzo, Jr. did at his home at 2042 Calumet Avenue–you go through it! Joseph’s neighbor, Julie Rauch, pictured here, shows off the impressive 15-foot tunnel the ingenious youngster made from the front steps to the road. While the tunnel seems to have been ideal for toddlers, not adults, it certainly shows the tenacity and creativity of most Copper Country youths.
If you’re looking for inspiration for what to do with all that snow in your front yard, look no further!

Flashback Friday: Snow Removal in the Copper Country

Snow removal, Houghton, January 1958.

It’s been a wild and wacky snow season so far in the Copper Country. We’re beginning to think that Heikki Lunta can’t seem to make up his mind this year. We’ve seen plenty of rain, snow, and wintry mixes out there, which is why we’re taking a moment during our Flashback Friday this week to give a little shout out to all of those who keep the roads and sidewalks clear and safe each winter.

Back in early January 1958 the Daily Mining Gazette ran an article praising the area’s snow removal practices, citing the excellent cleanup effort completed following a “heavy storm that reached blizzard proportions” the first week of the new year. The Gazette noted that the city of Houghton (pictured here) might seem “phenomenal to an outsider” because the streets were cleared almost entirely to the sidewalks, which had also been exceptionally cleared.
It’s true that the Copper Country annually sees upwards of 150 to 200 inches of snow and sometimes much more, like the 1978-1979 year where record-high seasonal totals reached 355.90 inches. Big snow means that the Copper Country is also home to some of the most efficient snow removal practices out there. As noted in the Gazette piece, it also means that snow researchers from around the country and the world come to the area to “study local methods and equipment” for snow removal — just think about that during our next big snowfall.
Interested in seeing what our latest snowfall totals are for this year? Check out the Keweenaw Research Center’s snow measurements page at http://mtukrc.org/met/weather_snow_data.htm.
You can also find more amazing snow and snow removal photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives by visiting our Copper Country Historical Images database at www.cchi.mtu.edu or by visiting the archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thank you to all of those who keep our roads clear and accessible each winter and all year round!

Flashback Friday: Closing the Books

Student studying with a slide rule, undated.

It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 fall semester is coming to a close. That said, we’re using this week’s Flashback Friday to wish all of our current Huskies the best as they head into finals week and to send out a hearty Michigan Tech Archives congratulations to those graduating this weekend.

People studying in the J. R. Van Pelt Library, circa 1960s.

We know it’s time to hit the books, hand in those last couple of projects, and complete those dreaded final exams before you can head home for the winter break and some much-needed rest. The end is in sight though, Huskies! One more week to go and then you can close the books on the fall semester. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

To all the Huskies taking part in the midyear commencement tomorrow, congrats and best wishes in the next chapter of your lives. Time to show off how crazy smart you are!

Commencement, 1958.

Flashback Friday: Honoring Armistice Day in the Copper Country

Our Flashback Friday this week commemorates Armistice Day in the Copper Country.

It’s likely that many of the local buildings looked a lot like the Houghton National Bank pictured here. (Photograph by J. T. Reeder, undated. Image No. MS042-063-999-Z617)

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, peace finally came to the Western Front, ending four long years of warfare and bloodshed.

Italian American family in front of their house in Baltic on Armistice Day, 1918.

While the guns fell silent across Europe, in every corner of the United States the sounds of cheers, bells, and whistles replaced the angry sounds of war. The news of the signing of the armistice was met with a similar reaction in the Copper Country. The Calumet News held the distinction of being the first publication in the region to break the news with a special edition “issued at the very moment firing ceased.” The news of the armistice arrived via a telephone wire from Chicago at 2:00 a.m. and The Calumet News had an early extra “on the streets in Calumet, Portage Lake, Torch Lake and other towns at 7 o’clock.”

The Calumet News, front page of the extra edition following news of the armistice agreement, November 11, 1918.
According the Daily Mining Gazette, “citizens appeared on the streets…parades were formed, flags appeared from every housetop and the business sections were soon ablaze with the national colors.” By that afternoon, “citizens of nearby towns came to the city and joined in a general demonstration” with “a big military and civic procession at the armory.”
Interested in learning more about the soldier experience in the trenches during World War I? Be sure to check out the outdoor exhibit, “Dug In: Experiential WWI Trench” located on the Michigan Tech campus at the corner of US-41 and MacInnes Drive, while you can! The exhibit showcases an actual trench dug into the ground, which spans several yards along campus. Christopher Plummer and Sound Design students created the audio component to the exhibit, which incorporates recordings of “memorial poetry and selections from soldier memoirs” with simulated battle sounds. The exhibit will cap this Sunday, November 11 with a commemorative ceremony featuring the local VFW and American Legion groups, ROTC, and JROTC as they fill in the trench. You can more information about the event on Tech Today.

Flashback Friday: A Change of Seasons

We’re using our Flashback Friday this week to honor the changing seasons. No, we don’t mean saying goodbye to fall, but farewell to road construction season!
This week back in 1958 saw the end of a big highway paving job between Quincy and Calumet, which the Michigan State Highway Department christened with the addition of yellow and white lines, pictured here. The Daily Mining Gazette reported that “sunshine, an infrequent visitor in the area in recent days, made the painting project by…motor propelled machinery impossible” following paving two weeks prior. No doubt, many motorists in the Copper Country were happy to have the work, completed by the Thornton Construction Co., come to an end and to have the roads reopened for fall color tours up the peninsula  .
We know the end of road construction means the beginning of our winter months and its own set of driving frustrations, but imagine all that glorious snow that’s on its way to the Copper Country! Enjoy the lingering fall colors, motorists!