Halls, resorts were popular on Menominee Range

Menominee Range Memories

(William J. Cummings) As early as the summer of 1891, Dick Flaherty provided excursions around Lake Antoine in his steam yacht and had a fleet of 14 small boats to rent for picnic parties. Lake Antoine’s Shady Island resort was established by Theodore Firme in the summer of 1896. Pictured is the steam yacht and boat that transported picnickers from the shore to the island.

IRON MOUNTAIN – The 36th installment of Menominee Range Memories, a series of articles by William J. Cummings, Menominee Range Historical Foundation historian, now available on the Dickinson County Library’s website, is titled “The Roaring Twenties — Other Dance Halls, Pavilions and Resorts in Dickinson County, Michigan.”

The Pine Gardens and The Nightingale, covered in the previous two Menominee Range Memories columns, were only two dance hall pavilions on the Menominee Iron Range.

Information on other dance halls, pavilions and resorts is quite limited. This Menominee Range Memories column will provide an overview of some of these popular places which were frequented by many area residents and visitors during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Lake Antoine

Shady Island, located on the south side of Lake Antoine and later known as Bugni’s Island, was one of the earliest resorts to be mentioned in area newspaper columns.

In the July 9, 1891 edition of The Iron Range, an Iron Mountain newspaper formerly called The Menominee Range, the following article appeared:

“On Monday, while Dick Flaherty was taking a party around Lake Antoine in his small steam yacht, the rudder became detached and it was not without considerable difficulty that he reached his boathouse, as the wind was strong and when the accident happened he was on the north side of the lake. The damage has been repaired and the little steamer is ship-shape once more. Mr. Flaherty now has a very pleasant place at the lake and has fourteen small boats which he rents to picnic parties and others. His enterprise at Lake Antoine is becoming quite popular and is proving a lucrative business. Parties wishing good boats should not fail to call on him.”

In the July 23, 1896, edition of the Iron Mountain Press, the following item appeared under “Brief City Newsites”:

“‘Shady Island’ is the name of a beautiful resort which Theodore Firme has fitted up at Lake Antoine for picnic parties. It is convenient to the city, the street cars running within a few hundred feet of the entrance. There has long been a demand for such a resort, and it is to be hoped that Mr. Firme’s enterprise will be appreciated by the various organizations in the city.”

A week later, the Iron Mountain Press reported:

“The People’s church Sunday school held their annual picnic at Shady Island, Lake Antoine, last Saturday afternoon and had a delightful time. Early in the forenoon the children paraded (down) Stephenson avenue, from the church to B street, returning to Ludington street, where they took the street cars for the Island. The procession was headed by the City band and attracted much attention.”

Another item in the same edition noted: “The German Singing society is picnicking at Shady Island today.”

In the July 25, 1898, edition of the Iron Mountain Press, the following item appeared under “City News Items”:

“The Presbyterian church and Sunday School will give a pic-nic to (sic) Shady Island Wednesday, to which all are invited. The charge for the round trip will be five cents for children over seven, and ten cents for adults, children under seven transported free, if with parents. Ice cream, etc., will be sold on the grounds. Lemonade will be free. Come and bring your lunch and have a merry time with the children. Carriages will leave the church at eight and again at nine o’clock, a.m.”

In “Scrapbook Memories of Dickinson County, Michigan,” published in 1993, an article titled “A Homemaker in a Happy Home” contained the following except from Ann Wentarmini’s reminiscence, noting she “liked to dance and remembers a popular dance hall called Benzo’s Hall on Sixth Avenue (now Fifth Street) and also a dance hall on the island in Lake Antoine where it was fun getting there by boat.” Ann was born July 28, 1898, along with a twin brother Angelo, to Charles (Carlo) and Elizabeth (Serena) Formenti.

In a presentation made at the March 22, 2012, meeting of the Dickinson County Genealogical Society by Don and Nancy Bugni regarding Bugni’s Island, Don noted the following regarding Shady Island:

“The dance hall was located on the north side of the island about two-thirds of the way down from the bridge. There are poplar trees there now which are different from the other trees on the island.”

John Tyler Jones, one of Iron Mountain’s leading pioneers and early mining superintendent of the Keel Ridge Mine and the Hamilton Mine, as well as the inventor of the Ardis Furnace on the city’s North Side, operated a launch which provided transportation for young people to the dance hall on the island. The Jones family residence, located at 703 Grand Boulevard on the North Side near Lake Antoine, was built in 1890 and still stands.

In 1911 Domenic Negro purchased a grocery store from Louis Zaio at 526 Fifth St., calling the general merchandise store Domenic Negro & Sons, managed by Domenic Negro Jr., with the aid of his brothers and sisters.

After Jones discontinued his launch service, Domenic Negro & Sons provided transportation to the island and ran a confectionery stand as an added feature.

Don Bugni also mentioned that the launch to the island departed from a flat rock or rock ledge where Charles D. and Joyce M. Peterson’s house was located at 1020 E. Grant St. He said that Elmer L. Koffman, the owner of the National Wholesale Company (later Koffman’s Store for Men), operated the launch in later years.


North Side, Iron Mountain

According to an article appearing in the June 29, 1979, edition of The Daily News — Iron Mountain Centennial Edition, adjacent to the John Tyler Jones home was a building which had been used as a sewing factory, a dance hall and a meeting room for the Eagles. At the time of the centennial it was headquarters for the Brauman Paper Company.



Under the headline “New Theatre at Channing Opened” in the April 22, 1921, edition of the Iron Mountain Daily News, the following article appeared:

“With a dance attended by 160 couples, the Liberty theatre at Channing was opened this week. Dancers were in attendance from all parts of Iron, Dickinson, and Marquette counties, according to Ed Vermullen, manager. Johnson’s orchestra, of Escanaba, furnished music.

“The new theatre is a large one, 800 seats being provided. The seats are removable, allowing the floor to be cleared for a dance hall, as was done at the opening. Several late motion picture features have been booked for showings in the near future, Mr. Vermullen declared.”


207 E. Hughitt St.

Iron Mountain

J. Elmore Becknell, who had been conducting Iron Mountain’s Bijou Theatre for several years, leased the Mitchell building at 207 E. Hughitt St. in October 1911, remodeling the structure to be used as a theater.

Architect Frederick E. Parmelee was in charge of the plans for the new “popular price theatre” which would show movies at cheaper rates than the Bijou Theatre. The second floor was removed and replaced with an arched steel ceiling. A balcony was erected over the main entrance.

The new theater was under the management of Mrs. Marion Higgie and J. Elmore Becknell. A contest to name the new “photo playhouse” was held with 147 names submitted. The judges selected “The Marion” for the new theater. Three people submitted the same suggested name, and the $25 prize was awarded to Hugo Ohmen, by drawing lots.

The Marion opened on Saturday night, Dec. 30, 1911. Even with a seating capacity of 425, the attendance was so great that three shows were presented instead of two, as was planned. The house was filled to capacity with each show.

In the Oct. 17, 1921 edition of The Iron Mountain News, under the headline “Marion Hall Now Attractive Place: New Floor Has Been Laid, and Interior Completely Refinished,” the following article appeared:

“Those who have attended dances at Marion hall since it has been remodeled declare that it is now one of the best, if not the best, dance halls on the range.

“Remodeling was started over a month ago and completed within the past two weeks. A new hardwood floor has been laid, the stage enlarged and extended, the entire interior whitewashed and repainted and dressing rooms equipped for ladies and gentlemen. Storm doors have been installed at the entrance for cold weather.

“The interior walls are finished in blue, as is the proscenium arch. A balcony, finished in gold, adorns each side of the stage. The latter has been enlarged sufficiently to accommodate an orchestra.

“The new floor, large enough to accommodate 50 couples comfortably, has been surfaced and waxed until it has been pronounced the best in this vicinity. Chairs are provided around the sides.

“The balcony provides a place for those who do not care to dance but to watch those who do. It, too, has been provided with chairs. A passageway leads from the balcony to the dressing rooms, which are located on the second floor of the building next to the theatre. The partition which was formerly under the balcony has been removed, allowing considerably more space on the dance floor.

“Furnishing of the new hall has been attractively done. Cretonne curtains cover doors and windows. An illuminated sign to the left of the stage announces the different dances, while a more or less lifelike representation of the moon furnishes illumination for the ‘moonlight’ dances.

“Three dances have already been held in the new hall, and the Mason school of dancing and expression has sessions every Monday, under the direction of Miss Frances Mason.”

Sometime between the fall of 1921 and 1925, Marion Hall must have closed.


Hamilton Lakes, Waucedah Township

Exactly when the Hamilton Lakes Resort began operation is uncertain.

An article in the Sept. 12, 1923 edition of The Iron Mountain News noted that the last dance of the season was held on Sunday, Sept. 9, with Cavi’s Five from Iron Mountain playing the program of dances.

Charles Juliani, manager of the resort, noted the season had been successful and outlined improvements that would be started on the grounds and buildings for the next season.

Removable windows were to be installed around the pavilion, taking the place of the canvas then in use which would make it possible to conduct dances there in cold and inclement weather. Plans also included slightly enlarging the hall and building a balcony at the rear of the pavilion for spectators.

Work on a camp site also began, as numerous tourists inquired at the resort during the summer asking for camping space. The road running into the resort was to be repaired and made wider.

In the July 3, 1924 edition of The Iron Mountain News, improvements at the Hamilton Lakes Resort were announced.

The dance pavilion had been enlarged to accommodate 200 couples, the grounds surrounding the pavilion had been improved and the parking place increased in size. “Undesirables and persons under the influence of liquor” were “not (to be) admitted into the dance hall.”

An article in the May 29, 1925 edition of The Iron Mountain News noted the season opening of the pavilion at the Hamilton Lakes Resort on Saturday, May 30.

A promenade around the pavilion was a new feature, extending into the water front of Lake Mary on the west side and partitioned off by a railing of lattice work.

In addition, the checking room, previously located apart from the pavilion, was then under the same roof, together with the refreshment booth.

The orchestra stage had been especially designed with a sounding board arrangement that directed the music towards the dancers. Special lighting novelties, for feature dances, had also been installed.

Music for the opening dance was furnished by the Wisconsin Serenaders, of Marinette. The same orchestra also played at the pavilion Sunday afternoon and night. The feature of Sunday night’s dance was a double orchestra, with the Serenaders and Cavi’s Seven Harmony Kings of Iron Mountain both playing.

Dances were held on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights and also on Sunday afternoons.

Also new in 1925, according to Manager Charles Juliani, was the tourists’ camp site. Camp stoves and picnic tables were arranged on the grounds and several acres had been cleared for playgrounds and other purposes.

Work to put the beach in first class condition was started and a diving apparatus was also to be installed. According to the article, the beach was considered “the best in Dickinson County.”


Harding Avenue, Kingsford

In the Sept. 11, 1924 edition of The Iron Mountain News, under the headline “VILLAGE TO HAVE NEW DANCE HALL: $20,000 Building Is Now Being Erected For Ishpeming Men,” the following article appeared:

“Construction work on a two-story building to contain a pool room and dance hall has been started in the village of Kingsford by Edward Ulseth, Calumet contractor, for Dennis brothers, of Ishpeming.

“The building, which will be located on Harding ave., is to be 28×86 feet in size. In addition there will be a wing in front 20×38 feet that will contain a store room.

“On the first floor will be located the pool room and the second floor will be given over to the dance hall and lounging rooms. The building will be of frame construction and is to cost approximately $20,000. It will be completed about November 1.”


Breitung, Kingsford

Under the headline “Complaints Bring Arrests At Dance” the following article appeared in the Dec. 15, 1924, edition of The Iron Mountain News:

“There probably will be no more Sunday night dances at the Hemlock hall, Breitung, Sheriff Cleveland said today. The sheriff received several complaints from residents of Breitung last night that disorders were taking place at the dance. In company with deputies, Cleveland visited the dance and took two men, said to have been drunk, into custody. Both were released on bonds and will appear for hearing at 4:30 o’clock this afternoon.

“‘I do not believe the place is being run right,’ Cleveland said. ‘I guess the only thing to do is step in and close them up on Sunday nights. We have been getting too many complaints about this place and warning seems to help none. So I guess we’ll close them.'”


100-102 W. Brown St.

East Brown Street and Merritt Avenue

Iron Mountain

[NOTE: The Northern Garage and the Northern Ballroom are at the same address, 100-102 W. Brown St., in Polk’s Iron Mountain City Directory 1925, page 177: “NORTHERN BALLROOM THE (George Jacksin, George Davich), Dancing and Public Entertainment 100-102 W Brown (See back cover).”

In the Nov. 22, 1924 edition of The Iron Mountain News, under the headline “DANCE HALL WILL OPEN NEXT WEEK: Special Decorations in New Northern Ball Room,” the following article appeared:

“The Northern ball room, located in the new garage building being erected at the corner of West Brown street and Merritt avenue, will be opened Thursday evening, it was announced today.

“The dance floor is 66×100 feet in size. The hall is decorated in an attractive manner, special decorators having been secured to execute the design. A Duluth orchestra has been secured for the opening night. Dances will be held every evening except Sunday.

“Construction work on the entire building, which is 68-120 feet in size, has been practically completed, the finishing touches now being put in the interior. The building is owned by Jacksin and Davich, former owners of the Iron Range Transportation company.”

In the Aug. 11, 1925 edition of The Iron Mountain News, the following article appeared under the headline “FROST PICTURES TO ADORN WALLS: Artist Will Paint Series of Scenes at Northern Ballroom”:

“Harry King, lightning artist, will paint a series of six pictures, 12 feet by 20 on the walls of the Northern ballroom, this week after concluding a successful week of exhibition work in a display window of the A. Sackim store.

“The large ballroom paintings will all be representations of snow scenes in keeping with the fir trees used for decorative purposes, and the significance of the name chosen for the dance place.”


(formerly the Northern Ballroom)

Under the headline “MANAGEMENT OF NORTHERN BALL ROOM CHANGED: Parmelees To Conduct Hall; Opening On Saturday Night,” the following article appeared in the Nov. 8, 1927 edition of The Iron Mountain News:

“The management of the Nightengale (sic – Nightingale) pavilion, which is owned by the Parmelees, has taken over the Northern ball room, corner of Merritt avenue and East Brown street, and will conduct it during the winter months.

“The ball room will hereafter be known as the Winter Gardens and the opening has been set for Saturday night, with a special masquerade ball as the feature.”

Read the rest of this 13-page story on the Dickinson County Library’s website at www.dcl-lib.org, which has additional information, including a marathon dance competition at the Northern Ballroom just before Christmas in 1924 and an unfortunate accident when a balcony gave way, injuring three young women at the Winter Gardens Ball Room during a Christmas Eve party in 1927.