Kresge Store came to Iron Mountain in 1926

Menominee Range Memories

This postcard view, probably taken between 1960 and 1970, shows the east side of the 400 block of South Stephenson Avenue, facing south. Several businesses were lost on Feb. 28, 1982, when fire destroyed the center of the block. Businesses pictured include: 403-405, S.S. Kresge Co. Variety Store; 407, Kresge-Khoury Building, Avenue Bar (Nicholas J. Khoury); 411, Ace Walgreen Agency Drugs (Don J. Nemeth and Marie H. Nemeth); 425-427, J.C. Penney Co., department store; 421, Isabel’s (Mose Pasten and Isabel K. Pasten), women’s clothing; 425-427, Montgomery Ward & Co., department store. On the west side of the street, Colenso’s Inc. department store (John R. Colenso, Irving C. Hoffman) is just visible and the Commercial National Bank can be seen on the west side of the 500 block. (William J. Cummings)

IRON MOUNTAIN — The 50th 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 “Downtown Iron Mountain — 401-413 South Stephenson Avenue.”

The east side of the 400 block of South Stephenson Avenue has suffered at least four major fires between Oct. 3, 1896, and Feb. 28, 1982. No original buildings remain on this block.

Kramer Brothers (Benjamin Kramer and Meyer or Myer Kramer) were the proprietors of the Kentucky Liquor Store, located at 401 S. Stephenson Ave., where they were “Dealers in wines, liquors and cigars” at this address by 1892. Benjamin Kramer and “Mike” Kramer continued to operate their wholesale and retail liquor business here in 1902 and George R. Sutherland, a mining engineer, lived upstairs.

By 1907, John H. McKenna sold liquor and cigars at this location, and also resided here. Thomas Seccombe was operating his saloon at this address by 1913, when Peter Crete, a fireman, lived upstairs with his wife Meta Crete.

Sometime between 1913 and 1924, George Vellenette established a confectionery shop at this address. An article in the April 29, 1924, edition of The Iron Mountain News reported on the expansion and renovation of the business as follows:

This double postcard view taken in about 1910 shows the intersection of South Stephenson Avenue and East Hughitt Street. Kramer Brothers (Benjamin Kramer and Meyer or Mike Kramer) were the proprietors of the Kentucky Liquor Store at 401 S. Stephenson Ave. by 1892, still selling wholesale liquor here in 1902. In 1907, John H. McKenna sold liquor and cigars here but by 1913, Thomas Seccombe ran a saloon at this site. Sometime between 1913 and 1924, George Vellenette established a confectionery shop here known as the Liberty Candy Kitchen. At 403, Wagner & Sundgren (D.H. Wagner and J.A. Sundgren) ran a barbershop by 1892. By 1902, Moses Taylor operated The Hub Clothing here, but the stock was being liquidated in April 1905, following his death. There was no listing for 403 until 1926, when the S.S. Kresge Company opened its store at this location. Anderson, Tackman & Company, a certified public accounting firm, now occupies the southeast corner of this intersection. Nels M. Nelson, the photographer, purchased Eskil’s Studio from Ali Numa Chatelain in May 1910, operating the studio until his death in 1921. (Gene Derwinski/Dick Ferris)

“Plans for extensive improvements that will almost double the size of the establishment were announced today by George Villenette [sic – Vellenette], proprietor of the Liberty Candy Kitchen, located at the corner of Stephenson Avenue and East Hughitt Street.

“The exterior of the building is to be remodeled and painted while the interior will also be redecorated. In addition, a partition in the rear of the ice cream parlor will be removed and 14 new booths installed. This will provide accommodations for from 120 to 135 persons. The fixtures will be of mahogany throughout.

“Arrangements for the improvement to the building have been completed with Mrs. Celia Guley, of Green Bay, the owner, Vellenette said. The work will start soon and it is expected all will be completed by June 15.

“The additional booths will make the parlor the largest in Iron Mountain and one of the largest in Upper Michigan. The cost of the improvements will be more than $5,000. The increase in size, Vellenette declares, is due to the rapid growth in business experienced during the last three years.”

Prohibition began in Michigan on May 1, 1918, and the 18th Amendment took effect Jan. 16, 1920. With Prohibition the law of the land, soda fountains increased in popularity and the demand for a fancier soda fountain with more booths may have been due to the limitations imposed by the new liquor restrictions.

In 1925, George Vellenette still operated a confectionery shop at this address, and Jessie McNicholas, widow of Francis McNicholas, worked as a milliner and lived here, probably upstairs. The installation of the Liberty Candy Kitchen’s new soda fountain was reported in the May 27, 1925, edition of The Iron Mountain News as follows:

“The Liberty candy kitchen has completed installation of a Bishop Babcock Red Cross dry system soda fountain, equipped with a Lipman full automatic refrigerating machine which does away entirely with the use of ice.

“A wide range of temperatures suitable for every soda fountain purpose can be obtained with the machine. The variation is from 35 degrees above zero to 20 degrees below. Brick ice cream will be kept at a temperature between zero and five degrees below, while bulk will be maintained at about 10 degrees above and other drinks will be maintained at 35 above. Control of these temperatures is completely automatic, being accomplished through use of a thermostat.

“Refrigeration is accomplished by the conversion of ammonia into gas, which is circulated through the foundation and returned again to the refrigerator, where it is first recondensed, then put through the same process, being used over and over again.

“The new fountain gives the Liberty four times its former storage capacity. It was installed by J.D. Fairchild and is said to be the only one of its kind north of Milwaukee.”

By 1935, the Rose Shop, selling women’s furnishings, was operated by Sander Rosenblum at 401 S. Stephenson Ave.

Wagner & Sundgren (D.H. Wagner and J.A. Sundgren) ran a barbershop at 403 S. Stephenson Ave. by 1892, advertising “First-class workmen. Everything neat, clean and inviting. Shave 10 cents; hair cut 25 cents. Bath rooms in connection.”

By 1902, Moses Taylor operated The Hub Clothing at this address. An article appearing in the March 9, 1905, edition of the Iron Mountain Press reported the closure of this business as follows:

“The Hub Store has been closed pending a settlement with creditors. Charles E. Parent, who was manager for the late Moses Taylor, the proprietor, states that the liabilities are considerably larger than the assets. The store has always done a large business and it is certain that, had not Mr. Taylor’s death been so sudden, no difficulties would have been encountered.”

The liquidation of the stock was also reported in the April 20, 1905, edition of the Iron Mountain Press as follows under this headline: DEAL IN CLOTHING — L. Charash Purchases the Hub Stock of Clothing:

“L. Charash, the well-known young merchant of Norway, was the successful bidder for The Hub Clothing Store stock of goods, which was sold at auction by Attorney Pelham, representing the Taylor estate, last Tuesday.

“The sale was attended by a large number of buyers, no less than a dozen merchants from out of town being in attendance, as well as half a dozen local dealers, and the bidding was exceedingly lively. Mr. Charash, who evidently understood his business, finally secured the line for $8,750. Good judges tell us that the stock is worth double the money paid for it.

“In an interview with The Press, Mr. Charash states that it is his intention to close his store in Norway and become a permanent resident of Iron Mountain, continuing the business of the late Mr. Taylor, his brother-in-law. He will at once purchase a large line of seasonable and fashionable clothing, shoes, furnishing goods, etc., and in order to make room for the new lines, the Taylor stock will be closed out forthwith — in other words, at just above the cost price. This means ‘all kinds’ of bargains for the people of Iron Mountain.

“The store will be reopened on Saturday morning next. Mr. Charash has engaged Robert H. Sherman, one of the most popular salesmen on the range, to assist him in the management of the store, and he wants all the people to call and see him.”

There was no listing for 403 S. Stephenson Ave. in 1907, 1913 or 1925.

By 1892, Kalitt & Reeves (G.H. Kalitt or A.H. Kalitt and John E. Reeves) were confectioners at 405 S. Stephenson Ave. W.H. Sweet worked as an architect and contractor here by 1902.

By 1907, Charles B. Parent was the proprietor of The Parent Clothing Company at this address, advertising “clothing, furnishings, trunks, valises, shoes, etc.” The Parent Clothing Store, Charles B. Parent, proprietor, still operated here in 1913.

On Thursday, Dec.2, 1915, the buildings occupied by Charles Parent (405 — Parent Clothing Store), John T. Carbis (407 — John T. Carbis Real Estate and Employment Agency) and Samuel Khoury (409 — Sam Khoury Confectionery) on Stephenson Avenue were totally destroyed by fire, the alarm sounding at about 2:30 o’clock. The total loss on buildings and stocks exceeded $30,000.

The building occupied by Parent as a clothing store was owned by Esther M. Taylor. It was a frame structure, two stories high. The estimated value of the building was $5,000 and it was insured for $2,000. The loss was a total one.

Parent initially was unable to give any estimate of his loss. He had one of the largest and cleanest stocks of clothing and furnishing goods in the city and the loss was almost total. Roughly estimated, it was between $12,000 and $15,000.

Cook & Pelham (August C. Cook and Herbert M. Pelham), attorneys, owned the building occupied by Sam Khoury as a confectionery store, as well as the small office building occupied by John Carbis. The estimated value of the buildings was about $5,000, with $2,000 insurance, and the loss was a total one.

Sam Khoury estimated his loss on stock and fixtures at $3,500, with $1,000 insurance.

Carbis placed his loss at $500 in books, maps and furniture.

The fire was under strong headway when discovered. The frame building owned by Mrs. Sutherland, at the corner of South Stephenson Avenue and East Hughitt Street (401 S. Stephenson Ave.), located only a few feet north of the buildings destroyed, took fire several times but was only damaged to a small extent.

Esther M. Taylor replaced the building burned in the Dec. 2, 1915, fire with a stone and brick building designed by N.P. Parmelee and erected by G.A. Gustafson, in the early spring of 1916. This building had a frontage of 30 feet on Stephenson Avenue and a depth of 100 feet. The height on Stephenson Avenue was 30 feet, while at the alley the height was only 17 feet. A basement 30 by 50 feet formed a portion of the foundation. The cost of erection in 1916 was $6,840, but when everything was completed, the expenditure was nearly $10,000. Charles E. Parent, the clothing merchant who occupied the first Taylor Building, was also the tenant in the new Taylor Building.

In 1925, Charles E. Parent advertised “High Grade Clothing, Fashionable Furnishings, Headwear and Footwear For Men.” Esther M. Taylor, widow of Moses Taylor and owner of the building, lived here, and Dr. Arthur L. Costa, a dentist, had his office at this address.

The S.S. Kresge Company opened its 5, 10 and 25-cent store on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 1926, at 405 Stephenson Ave. The store occupied the former Parent Clothing Store. The building was lengthened and “a new, modern front installed, with attractive display windows and a center entrance,” according to an article in the Nov. 15, 1926, edition of the Iron Mountain News. New fixtures of the latest design were being received, and the store was “brilliantly lighted.”

The article further noted: “One of the most interesting features of the local branch is the rest room provided on the second floor for women employees. The furniture, consisting of wicker tables, chairs and davenports, with a deep rug, has already been installed. Adjoining the rest room is the lunch room for employees living a considerable distance from the store and who bring their lunch to work. Upstairs also is the cloak room which is locked as soon as the last woman employee has checked in for work.”

In the basement of the store, 857 storage bins contained merchandise systematically arranged as on the counters in the sales department.

By 1941, the S.S. Kresge Company was at 401-403 S. Stephenson Ave.

End Part I


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