Posted tagged ‘my marquette’

Join Us in Celebrating the 2nd Annual U.P. Authors Day at Marquette’s Westwood Mall

September 24, 2014

UP AUTHORS_2014 POSTERUpper Michigan authors from all ends of the peninsula will gather on October 4, 2014 for the second annual U.P. Authors Day Book Fair at the Westwood Mall. All authors who live in or write about the U.P. are welcome to attend.

Marquette, MI, August 25, 2014—Upper Michigan authors will gather to meet their current and future readers at the first annual U.P. Authors Day event and book fair at the Westwood Mall in Marquette on October 4, 2014.

U.P. Authors Day is an event intended to raise awareness of the rich tradition of writing about Upper Michigan and introduce readers to local authors. The event is the brainchild of Lon Emerick, award-winning author of such favorites as “The Superior Peninsula” and “Paradise, North.” The event is being organized by members of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA) in coordination with the Westwood Mall.

President of UPPAA and author of “My Marquette,” Tyler R. Tichelaar, said that last year’s event resulted in twenty-three authors attending, which was the single largest gathering of U.P. authors in one place ever held. These authors came from all over the U.P., including Marquette, Ishpeming, Quinnesec, Iron Mountain, Houghton, and Garden. One even came from Texas to attend, and they all either live in or write about the U.P. Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats children’s book series who is helping to coordinate the event, stated, “This event is a real opportunity for readers to meet authors who live in and write about the U.P., some of whom are well-known and others of whom may be new to local readers. The diversity of topics is impressive, ranging from historical fiction and history books to children’s books, fantasy novels, memoirs, romances, and inspirational titles.” Ellen Sargent, manager of the Westwood Mall, adds, “The Westwood Mall is delighted to host this event for the second time. We know both our local customers and area visitors will really enjoy getting to meet the authors, and I think they’ll be impressed by how many talented writers we have right here in our backyard!”

Over fifteen authors will be scheduled to attend the event. Book sale hours will be from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 4th.

My Newest Book: Creating a Local Historical Book

October 9, 2012

Modern History Press just published this short 40 page book based on two interviews I did with Authors Access (www.AuthorsAccess.com) about how I researched and wrote my historical novels as well as my history book My Marquette.

The book is now for sale at my website www.MarquetteFiction.com and at other online bookstores. The ebook versions should be available by the middle of October 2012.

Following is a description of the book from the back cover. You can also view a few sample pages of the book at my website:

Does Your City or Region Have a Fascinating Story that needs to be told before it’s forgotten?

Yes, it does, and you can be the person to write it.

In this short book, Tyler Tichelaar, author of My Marquette and The Marquette Trilogy, talks in an interview format about how he became interested in writing both local history and regional and historical fiction and his research and writing process to bring his books to fruition.

Readers of Creating a Local Historical Book will learn:

  • What kind of research is required
  • What counts as research
  • Where to do research
  • How to organize that research into a book
  • How not to go overboard with details
  • Finding images and gaining usage permission
  • How to make your book stand out from others
  • Tips on marketing your history book

“Our committee would like to honor Tyler with this award in honor of his meticulous research, his enlightened and personal testimony about Marquette and his educational contributions to the preservation of Marquette’s history.”

– The Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee, presenting Tyler with the Barbara H. Kelly Historic Preservation Award

“Tyler Tichelaar speaks from the heart about his love affair with the town of his birth. Join him on a nostalgic tour of one of the great small cities of America.”

— Karl Bohnak, author of So Cold a Sky: Upper Michigan Weather Stories

Marquette’s Catholic Cemeteries

March 5, 2012
Sign that today marks the Old Catholic Cemetery

Sign that today marks the Old Catholic Cemetery on Pioneer Road

The following passage is from My Marquette

Across the street from the former Brookridge Estate, on the corner of County Road 553 and Pioneer Road, is a patch of woods where once the Old Catholic Cemetery existed. It became the burial place for Marquette’s Catholics in 1861. Prior to that, Catholics had been buried on the property where the cathedral now stands. The new cemetery would within fifty years become the Old Catholic Cemetery. By the early 1900s, the new Holy Cross Cemetery off Wright Street opened, and between 1912 and 1925, some 165 Catholics’ remains were transferred from the old cemetery to the new one, although not all the bodies were removed.

While I do not know for certain where they rest, my best guess is that my great-great-grandparents, John Buschell, his wife Elizabeth, and maybe her second husband Jeremiah O’Leary are all buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery.

Today, the forest has reclaimed the old cemetery property off Pioneer Road. Gradually, while some of the bodies were left behind, all the gravestones were removed—some for a time in the 1980s I remember being in the front yard of the John Burt Pioneer home when it was still a museum, but eventually all the stones that remained intact were transferred to Holy Cross Cemetery where they lie in the grass, most of them scarcely readable.

Today, all Catholics are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Marquette. In the cemetery’s early years, Catholics were strict that only Catholics could be buried there. As a result, my great-grandmother, Lily Buschell Molby, lies in Holy Cross while her husband, John Molby, not being Catholic, is buried in Park Cemetery, which accepted all denominations.

Pioneer Cemetery Gravestones now in Holy Cross Cemetery

By the 1980s, burial laws were less strict. John and Lily’s daughter, my grandmother, Grace Molby White, also married outside the Catholic Church, but she wanted to be buried in the Catholic cemetery, so my grandpa, raised a Baptist, also agreed to be buried there. Today my grandparents rest in Holy Cross Cemetery with my grandma’s family while my grandpa’s family rests in Park Cemetery.

A few years after my grandparents passed away, my parents bought plots near them in Holy Cross Cemetery, including plots for my brother and me. At the time, I wasn’t too crazy about having a grave plot waiting for me when I was only thirty years old, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.

Marquette’s Historic Delft Theatre

February 20, 2012

The following article is an excerpt from my book My Marquette, beginning with a scene that takes place at the Delft Theatre in my novel Superior Heritage: The Marquette Trilogy, Book Three

Delft Theatre Marquee

Delft Theatre Marquette, circa 1998, courtesy of Sonny Longtine

:

On Saturdays, John and Chad often went to matinees at the Delft Theatre. The movies were not always spectacular, often children’s shows they had outgrown. Robinson Crusoe, The Journey of Natty Gann, The Watcher in the Woods were films soon forgotten, but that hardly mattered; the true glamor was being at a movie theatre, especially the fabulous old Delft. This theatre, perhaps more than any place in Marquette, evoked history to them. When the boys saw Annie, they were impressed by the glamorous scene when the characters from the 1930s go to the movies at Radio City Music Hall, and the ushers danced down the aisle with flashlights to show them to their seats. The boys could just imagine that in its heyday, the Delft had been a similarly magical movie showplace. For seventy years, the theatre had stood along Washington Street, the most notable building on the block. During its long life, the theatre had shown films and been the sight of public performances. Now, as the theatre fell into neglect, its former grandeur made it all the more enticing. It was the only theatre in town with a round little ticket window inside the front door. From there rose a long hallway that led to double doors where the usher collected your ticket so you could enter a splendid fantasy world. Then you went down a tall flight of stairs until you came to the concession stand where a cluster of people competed for the cashiers’ attention to buy popcorn, raisinettes, coca-colas, and sometimes, even ice cream! The concession stand was against the left wall while the right wall had a giant window that looked into the theatre itself so even the concession workers could watch the film when they were not busy serving customers.

The theatre walls were covered with winter scenes of children sledding. Protruding from the ceiling was the magnificent big round metal thing no one could define—it was not a chandelier because it had nothing to do with lighting; it had giant rings, one inside another, like a spaceship hovering over the audience, which only added to the atmosphere when watching Return of the Jedi, The Last Starfighter, or 2010.

Most impressive of all, the Delft boasted the largest screen in the Upper Peninsula—they did not make movie theaters with such big screens anymore. Drive-ins were now all but extinct and most old movie theaters had been replaced by multiplex cinemas. John had heard tales of such theaters from friends who had seen them downstate; he had heard that if you did not like a movie, you could sneak into another one, so you could see parts of three or four films on the same night. John thought this silly since you would never get to see a full film. He did not imagine Marquette would ever be big enough for a multiplex cinema. Three theaters, each showing one movie, was enough variety for Marquette. — Superior Heritage

The Delft Theatre was actually part of a chain. Iron River, Munising, and Escanaba also had their own Delft theatres, built to look like Dutch buildings—hence the name Delft. Marquette’s Delft Theatre has survived the others.
The theatre was built in 1914 and initially, besides showing silent films, had a stage for vaudeville and other performances. The Marquette Opera House across the street would have provided more “cultural” forms of entertainment.

About 1950, the stage was closed off and the movie screen—the largest ever in Upper Michigan—was permanently put into place. Then in 1985, it was divided into two separate rooms and screens, thus breaking up the U.P.’s largest screen. In the next decade, it was divided again, this time into five screens. Considerable remodeling was done at that point, including having the main entrance transferred from Washington Street—where the lighted marquee still hangs, to Main Street. As children, my brother and I always thought it a mystery how one could enter on Washington Street and exit on Main Street; we could not believe the metal shaft that crossed the alley was really all of the Delft Theatre.

The original entrance to the Delft Theatre was on Washington Street where from the ticket booth you walked up a long sloping floor to another door where your tickets were collected. This large room is now the top floor theatre. When this section was remodeled, a Chinese painting was discovered from the theatre’s early days. It has now been preserved and graces this individual room. The stairs to reach this top room were initially the stairs down to the concession stands on the left wall, and the giant theatre was on the left. In the back of the main theatre was a low wall, so if you got up from your seat to go to the bathroom, you could still watch the movie as you walked past the concession stand, or if you waited for your popcorn.

Despite the magic of going to the Delft Theatre, the bathrooms were another story. You had to go down into the basement, where a sort of lobby existed which had off it the dirty smelly bathrooms with old looking plumbing. The lobby always seemed to be filled with high school and college students who were smoking, a scary experience for little kids—especially in those days when parents thought nothing of sending their children to the bathroom on their own—but despite scary smoking college students, children were safe in the Delft Theatre. Today the main lobby and concession stands are where the restrooms once were located.

The interior of the main theatre room in the old days is accurate as described in Superior Heritage. I could not even begin to list all the movies I watched there, but I do remember the very first one. It was a few days before Christmas 1974 and I was three years old. My family had just moved into our new house in Stonegate by the Crossroads, and my dad took me to the movie so my mom could focus on unpacking. The movie was terrible—it was a Christmas film with Santa Claus being chased by the Devil who was out to stop him from delivering presents; in one scene, the Devil moved a chimney so Santa could not get inside a house and in another Santa had to climb a tree to escape an angry, barking dog. I’ve never been able to find out the name of this movie—nor am I surprised it’s never been released on video. It wasn’t fit viewing for a three year old.

Other early films I remember seeing at the Delft were the Disney cartoons—Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Snow White. By middle school, my brother and I could go on our own—my mom would drop us off at the Saturday matinees to attend the same films Chad and John attend in Superior Heritage.

I miss the Delft’s giant screen and reasonable prices for candy at the concession stand, but I think Marquette residents will agree with me that even with five screens, we are happy the Delft is still there with its marquee brightly lit to make Washington Street distinct. Long may the movie magic live on.

Bonanza – a Marquette Classic

October 2, 2011
Bonanza Restaurant - Marquette

Bonanza Restaurant - Marquette

Yesterday I attended the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA – www.uppaa.org) fall meeting. We had to reschedule our location at the last minute and Bonanza Restaurant was kind enough to accomodate us, just further confirmation of the fine business Bonanza has been doing in Marquette for decades, so as a small sign of gratitude, I am posting here the section from My Marquette about Bonanza, one of my family’s long-time favorite Marquette eateries:

Grandpa and Grandma were regulars at Bonanza, which ensured that Chad and John got extra suckers with their little wrangler meals. They all overstuffed their stomachs with steak, chili con carne, salad, french fries, and ice cream.

— Superior Heritage

When Bonanza opened in 1977, it was one of those new restaurants, springing up along U.S. 41 leading out of town and actually in Marquette Township, but today, it is a mainstay as one of Marquette’s longest operating restaurants.

Soon after it opened, my mom and grandma went there for lunch. At that time, Grandma thought Grandpa wouldn’t like it because it wasn’t a “sit down and be waited on” kind of restaurant. Boy, was she wrong!

Grandpa loved Bonanza. Soon my grandparents were going there for supper at least twice a week. They became good friends with Mitch Lazaren, the owner, and all the Bonanza staff. My grandpa made some frames for different maps and posters for the restaurant, and for Christmas one year, my grandparents were given Bonanza jackets with their names embroidered on them.

For years, my grandparents, parents, brother and I could regularly be found at Bonanza on Saturday nights. It was my favorite restaurant as much as Grandpa’s. The Chili Con Carne alone was enough to keep me going back.

How special was Bonanza to my grandparents? So special that during winter blizzards, my mom had to argue on the phone with Grandpa to get him to stay home rather than go there for supper. So special that in 1983, my grandparents celebrated their forty-ninth wedding anniversary there.

Other steakhouses have come and gone in Marquette, but Bonanza has outlived all its competition. The service remains impeccable, the food fantastic, and the atmosphere friendly, if a bit overwhelmed by hungry people crowding around the salad bar—but that’s the sign of a truly good restaurant.

Marquette’s Historic Wagner Home 229 N. Fourth Street

September 2, 2011
Wagner Home 229 Fourth St. Marquette Michigan

The Wagner Home at 229 N. Fourth St. Marquette

One of the most noticeable historic homes in Marquette that is not officially in the historic residential neighborhood of Arch and Ridge Streets, although it’s on the corner of West Ridge, is the Wagner home.

This home was built by Honorable George Wagner, who was born in Prussia, Germany in 1834 and came to Marquette in 1854. He served the community in numerous capacities including justice of the peace, township treasurer, and alderman. In the early 1890s, he represented the First District of Marquette County as a member of the Michigan Legislature and introduced the Upper Peninsula Insane Asylum bill. In 1855, as a contractor, he laid the first tram road from the Jackson Mine to the Cleveland Mine. He erected sawmills in Alger County and in 1881, he discovered the Breitung Mine of which he became superintendent. Mr. Wagner was married to Gertrude Dolf in 1869, who was a relative of a relative on the Zryd side of my family. Consequently, my great-grandmother Barbara McCombie White used to visit the Wagner family in the early twentieth century. The last Wagner to own the home was Nettie Wagner, who later went to live with her Dolf family relatives. My distant cousin, Dorothy Dolf Drozdiak remembers when she was a little girl in the 1930s that Nettie Wagner used to toss her pennies from the tower’s windows. Today, the home is divided into apartments.

Discover more of Marquette’s historic homes in My Marquette at www.MarquetteFiction.com

Marquette’s Maritime Museum and Lighthouse

July 27, 2011

Thank you to Marquette’s Maritime Museum, especially Director Carrie Fries, for the opportunity to be part of the Tall Ships event this past weekend. My fellow authors (Gretchen Preston, Milly Balzarini, and Donna Winters) and I enjoyed talking to all the tourists, natives, and our readers.

Marquette Maritime Museum

Marquette Maritime Museum

As a thank you to the museum, and in honor of August as Maritime Month (can you believe August is only days away?), here is the section from My Marquette about the museum:

           The sudden lurch catapulted several passengers over the ship’s rail. Sophia, having momentarily released Gerald’s arm, found herself thrown overboard with several other ladies. Panic-stricken, she scrambled in the waves, fighting to keep her head above water while her skirts quickly soaked through, growing so heavy they threatened to pull her under. The lake was calm that evening, the waves nearly indistinguishable, yet Sophia was terrified. She had not swum in twenty years, and she sadly lacked for exercise. The sudden surprise and the biting cold water nearly sent her into shock. Gerald was almost as surprised as he stood clasping the rail and trying to spot his wife. After a few initial screams, the other women thrown overboard began to swim toward the ship. One man, Mr. Maynard, had also been pivoted overboard, and like Sophia, he struggled to stay afloat. Sophia’s terror increased when she saw Mr. Maynard’s head sink beneath the waves. She instantly feared he had drowned, and his failure to resurface made her splash and scream frantically until she began to swallow water. Hearing his wife’s screams, Gerald spotted her and dove to her rescue. — Iron Pioneers

The Marquette Maritime Museum was formed in 1980 and opened to the public in 1982. It is located in the old Marquette Waterworks building designed by D. Fred Charlton in 1890. In 1897, the Father Marquette statue was placed on the waterworks building’s property, although it was later moved to its present location. The construction of a new waterworks building resulted in the old one being converted into the Maritime Museum.

In 1999, when I first conceived the idea to write The Marquette Trilogy, I visited the Maritime Museum to see the exhibits as research for my books. During that visit, I learned about the sinking of the Jay Morse which I knew would make a great dramatic scene since most of Marquette’s wealthiest people were on the ship. The passage above resulted from my visit to the museum. Fittingly, my novels have since found a happy place in the Maritime Museum’s gift shop. The friendly employees have read them and frequently recommend them to their customers, something for which I am always grateful.

The museum includes numerous displays about the early schooners and ore boats on Lake Superior as well as dioramas, old rowboats, and a small theatre with ongoing films. In 2002, the museum also acquired the Marquette lighthouse as part of its property.

Marquette was built to be a port for shipping iron ore from the mines in nearby Negaunee and Ishpeming. Every harbor town requires a lighthouse, and Marquette constructed its lighthouse in 1853, just four years after the town’s founding. No building records exist for this first lighthouse, but it was reputedly thirty-four by twenty feet in size. The lantern room contained seven fourteen-inch Lewis lamps which were used until the introduction of the Fresnel lens in the later 1850s. Because the living quarters and tower were poorly constructed, they were replaced with the present lighthouse in 1866.

The 1866 lighthouse is today the oldest structure of any real historical significance in Marquette. The original structure was a one-and-a-half story brick building with an attached forty-foot square brick tower housing a fourth order Fresnel lens. An identical lens is on display today in the Marquette Maritime Museum. The original lens showed an arc of 180 degrees. In 1870, it was increased to 270 degrees.

The keeper and his family lived in the lighthouse. As long as the keeper’s job was only to maintain the light, a single man was able to do the work. However, when the light at the end of the breakwater was added and a two whistle signal system installed at the end of the point, the work was too much for one person so an assistant keeper was hired and a barn behind the lighthouse was converted into living space for him. In 1909, a second story was added instead for the assistant’s quarters. Additions were also made to the back of the lighthouse in the 1950s.

The Maritime Museum has available on CD the lightkeeper’s log books which reflect some of their interesting experiences. In 1859, Peter White complained about the lightkeeper because “He is a habitual drunkard, frequently thrashes his wife and throws her out of doors.” This lightkeeper also failed to light up until sometimes after midnight which caused great danger for ships.

Just west of the Marquette lighthouse, the U.S. Life-Saving Service established a station in 1891. Led by Captain Henry Cleary, the life-savers performed death-defying rescues on the lake. Their fame grew until they were invited in 1901 to escort President McKinley down the Niagara River during the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (the following day the president would be assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, who for some time had worked in various lumber camps in Michigan, including in Seney. In 2009, Marquette author, John Smolens, published The Anarchist, a novel about the McKinley assassination). Eventually the U.S. Life-Saving Station was absorbed into the Coast Guard, and it became the building in operation for the longest time that was owned by the Coast Guard until 2009 when a new Coast Guard station was built directly on the south side of the Maritime Museum and in front of the Lower Harbor’s breakwater.

The Marquette lighthouse remains one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks for its bright red walls, and it is probably photographed more than any other place in Marquette. When I worked at Superior Spectrum, a former local telephone company in Marquette, the lighthouse was used in numerous marketing pieces, some of which I helped to design. Today, the lighthouse is open for tours operated by the Maritime Museum, and it is being refurbished to reflect the lighthouse keepers’ living quarters in the early twentieth century.

Be sure to check out my several other posts last August 2010 that celebrated Maritime Month. And of course, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum and the lighthouse this summer!

The Superior Dome Gets a New Look

July 11, 2011

Those of my readers who are expatriate Yoopers may not yet have seen that the Superior Dome is getting a new look. Originally built of wood, its wooden look disappeared when the gray rubber was placed over it, but now a new layer in a beige color looks like it will restore a semblance of the wooden look to the building. Here are a couple of photos I took about three weeks ago when the change was beginning. As of today, about half of the Dome’s roof is now the new color. In addition, I’m posting the section from My Marquette about the Superior Dome.

From My Marquette:

The Superior Dome

Superior Dome

The Superior Dome's new color

 

            “Your mother’s right,” said Eleanor. “We can’t take our safety for granted anymore. Marquette isn’t like when I was young and everyone knew everyone else. Why there’s something like twenty-five thousand people living here now and that big sports building they’re putting up—the world’s largest wooden dome or whatever they claim it is, it’s only going to attract more people here.”

            “I doubt it,” said Tom. “No one’s going to come all the way up here to see that dome.”

            “They’re only building the dome,” said Ellen, “because NMU is going to be an Olympic training center, and they want to impress the governor so he’ll give the school more money.”

            “It just makes me sick to think what that dome and the Olympics will attract to this area,” said Eleanor. “All those kids training for Olympic boxing will be coming up from Detroit, nothing but a bunch of undesirables from the ghettos. They’ll only bring trouble with them.” — Superior Heritage

 

SuperiorDome

Superior Dome

The Superior Dome was controversial from its start when it was first proposed in the late 1980s. People claimed it was built to impress the governor so the university would receive more money, including to fund the new Olympic training program. Many people felt the nearly $3,000,000 price tag was a waste of money, and people mocked the project and wanted to name it “The Yooper Dome.” Nevertheless, it was built and opened in the fall of 1991. While impressive from a distance, up close one wonders about the rather messy looking grey roof. The building was supposed to have a wooden appearance, but from early on, the Dome leaked and the rubber material had to be placed over it. Despite the leak, on May 1, 1993, commencement services were held in the Dome for the first time. I was part of that first graduating class.

The Superior Dome replaced the old football field, a huge advantage since half of Northern’s football season is played when snow is likely to fall, so games could now be played inside. The Dome, and later the Berry Events Center, built for hockey, also shifted community activities away from the Lakeview Arena. Today, numerous recreation and other shows are held in the Dome. Every year, I can be found there the first weekend of December at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show, the largest craft show in Upper Michigan, where I sign and sell my books as thousands of visitors stream through the Dome.

After twenty years, it’s fair to say the Dome has become one of the most recognizable sites in Marquette and part of its history. Despite how people felt about it when it was first proposed, I doubt anyone would part with it now.

Wetmore Landing’s Namesake

June 7, 2011

It’s summer and many of us will be venturing to favorite places along Lake Superior in Marquette County. One of those favorite places is Wetmore Landing, but how many of us know where the name came from? Here is what I wrote in My Marquette about Mr. Wetmore and his home in Marquette:

William L. Wetmore lived at 314 E. Ridge St. in Marquette (the home is no longer standing). He was one of the co-founders along with M.H. Maynard, Peter White, William Burt and his grocer brother F.P. Wetmore to organize the Huron Bay Slate and Iron Company, which owned the company town of Arvon as well as a 200 yard wooden dock built on Huron Bay, which was never to have any ore deposited or shipped from it.

In 1871, William Wetmore cut hardwood and built kilns to make charcoal in Alger County as well as founding a general store there. When he retired in 1894, the small community was renamed Wetmore in his honor.

Wetmore Landing was initially a clearing along shore where lumbermen could bring logs out of the forest to the lake from where they could be rafted down to Marquette.  Today it is a popular beach for swimming, as well as surfing, and the rocks along the shore make a good spot from which to fish. Next time you visit, remember that it is not only a place to surf or enjoy the scenery but once a significant part of U.P. history and the logging era.

Dandelion Cottage: Marquette’s Famous Literary Home

May 31, 2011

Anyone  in Marquette can see that it is definitely Dandelion season again, so I thought today would be perfect for posting a section from My Marquette about what may be Marquette’s most famous home, Dandelion Cottage.

Dandelion Cottage was a real place, and its story is yet another example of how Marquette seeks to preserve its past.

Dandelion Cottage Carroll Watson Rankin Arch Street Marquette Michigan

Dandelion Cottage

No one knows when the cottage was initially built, but Peter White, who owned it as a rental property, donated it in 1888 to St. Paul’s with the understanding that it would be moved from its original home on High Street, a couple of hundred feet north to 212 E. Arch Street, behind the church. White had it moved to make room to build the Morgan Memorial Chapel.
The cottage would remain at its second location for 103 years and soon become famous.

In 1904, the house became known as “Dandelion Cottage” after Carroll Watson Rankin wrote her children’s book of the same name with the cottage at its center. The story is a fictional account of four girls, loosely based on Mrs. Rankin’s daughters and their friends. The characters, Bettie, Jeanie, Mabel, and Marjory, earn the right to use the cottage as their playhouse for the summer in exchange for picking the dandelions from the cottage’s lawn.

Although the girl’s antics and adventures are largely fictional, dandelions were a problem in early Marquette. John M. Longyear recalled a contest held to see which child could collect the most dandelions in Marquette, but the contest, despite its popularity, and three-thousand, five hundred bushels of dandelions being collected, did not rid the city of its weeds. Another possible real-life source is the character of Mr. Black, rumored to be a fictional portrait of Peter White.

While the cottage’s notoriety grew throughout the twentieth century along with the popularity of Dandelion Cottage and Mrs. Rankin’s other books, it remained a rental property for the church. Then in 1988, St. Paul’s decided it needed to
expand its parking lot and Dandelion Cottage and the other small house beside it were in the way.

Thankfully, the church acknowledged the historical significance of Dandelion Cottage, so rather than simply tear it down, it
sought someone to buy it for the sum of $1.00 and then move it. The church did not give up easily, and after three years, in early 1991, Mayor William Birch and his wife Sally came forward to purchase and move the cottage. On October 12, 1991, the cottage was moved to its present location, which was directly behind the Birchs’ Ridge Street home.

The Mining Journal ran numerous stories about the attempts to sell the cottage and its successive move. Estimates to relocate it two blocks down Arch Street were said to be $20,000. But the Birchs went beyond just moving it. Dandelion Cottage was
given a beautiful restoration. It was repainted yellow, remodeled inside with a modern kitchen, woodwork was replaced and where possible replicated to match the original hardwood; the maple floors were refinished, and dandelions stenciled on the walls. In all, the restoration cost over $60,000, but William and Sally Birch understood that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Soon after, Phyllis Rankin, the then ninety-seven year old daughter of the author, suggested a state historical marker be sought which today appears on the cottage.

June 28, 1992 was a gala day when Dandelion Cottage was opened to the public. My brother and I were among the many who stood in a long line down Arch Street to tour the newly restored historic cottage. I doubt a single visitor was anything but pleased and grateful that this Marquette landmark was preserved. Phyllis Rankin told The Mining Journal, “I am glad it was saved and I know my mother would have been delighted about it. It looks lovely….It’s a beautiful job.”

Dandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin

The cottage has since been resold and continues as a residence. Visitors to Marquette make a point to seek it out, and customer reviews at Amazon reveal that Dandelion Cottage remains a favorite among readers, and the Marquette County History Museum sells numerous copies of the book each year. What appears as a weed can turn out to be a gift to future generations.