Building boom during Ford years

Downtown Iron Mountain has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. To recognize this honor, The Daily News is publishing a series on the history of downtown Iron Mountain. These accounts were researched and written by Robert O. Christensen, National Register Coordinator from the State Historic Preservation Office in Lansing, and edited by Dickinson County Historian William Cummings.

The Ford Boom in the Business District

The “Ford Boom” of the 1920’s resulted in a building boom in Iron Mountain’s downtown larger than any since the boom times of the late 1880’s and early 1890’s.

Heralds of the coming boom seem to have been the bank buildings constructed for the American Security Bank and the United States National Bank in 1920-21 and 1921, respectively. Located at 515-17 and 427 S. Stephenson, the banks were both built for new institutions chartered at the boom’s beginning. The Max A. Cohodes Building at 615-21 S. Stephenson came soon after, in 1922.

It initially housed J. H. Cohodes’ department store and several other stores.

The largest still standing buildings resulting from the boom were the Northern Ballroom and Garage, the Braumart Theater Building, and the Commercial Bank Building.

The Northern, located at the business district’s north edge at 100-102 W. Brown, was built in 1923 to house a large commercial space downstairs, initially occupied by an auto dealership and garage, and the Northern Ballroom upstairs. The Braumart, outdistancing the city’s other movie theaters in size and amenities, was built in 1924-25 at 104-08 East B Street.

It included second-story office space across the front, but was expanded beginning only one month after completion in 1925 with additional office space at one end.

The Commercial Bank Building, built in 1929, fills the entire 500 block frontage along Stephenson’s west side.

Iron Mountain’s landmark building of the 1920’s, the two-story building topped by a three-story central “tower” contained not only the bank’s quarters but also office and commercial space that housed a drugstore for decades and also a long-time bar, located in the basement.

The “Ford Boom” resulted in new development throughout the downtown area encompassed by the district, along Stephenson and Carpenter and the east-west streets from Brown down to B between Carpenter and Iron Mountain.

Many of the commercial buildings that give the business district its character today date from this 1920’s boom period. At least the following commercial buildings in the district appear to date from the “Ford Boom” years:

– 100-102 West A, Payant Building (standing in 1923, probably built early 1920’s)

– 104-08 East B, Braumart Theater Building (1924-25, addition 1925)

– 110 East B, Cordy Building (1921)

– 211 East B, Michigan Bell Building (1925)

– 100-102 W. Brown, Northern Ballroom and Garage Building (1923)

– 404-07 Carpenter, Bond Building (c. 1924)

– 411 Carpenter, Hollenbeck Service Station (between 1923 and 1930)

– 706-710 Carpenter, Ayoub Building (between 1923 and 1930)

– 208 E. Hughitt, Dockery Building/Logic Clinic (early 1920’s)

– 218 E. Hughitt, Williams Building (c. 1924)

– 101 E. Ludington, Stores (1922 or 1923)

– 213 E. Ludington, Iron Mountain Daily News Building (1922, addition 1925)

– 407-09 Stephenson, Jacobs Building (1923-24)

– 427 Stephenson, United States National Bank Building (1921)

– 515-17 Stephenson, American Security Bank Building (1920-21)

– 615-21 Stephenson, Max A. Cohodes Building (1922)

– 623-29 Stephenson, Wolfe Brothers Building (1927)

– 500 Stephenson, Commercial Bank Building (1929)