Gossard Building on Natural Register of Historic Places

The Braastad-Gossard Building in downtown Ishpeming has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Known to locals as “the Gossard,” the 128-year-old structure served as a department store and a factory that manufactured women’s undergarments before being renovated for an interior mall and offices.

The Gossard dates to 1888 and was expanded in 1903-04, according to the nomination submitted by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

It won National Register status for its connection with historical events and people, including industrial and social history and the “industrial pattern of textile plants setting up shop in mining towns to take advantage of a potentially large and low-cost labor force of women from the mining families who would be willing to work to supplement the family income,” the nomination said.

The original owner was Frederick Braastad, a mayor and long-time local business and mine owner, and his department store was a leading commercial institution until its closing in the early 1920s, the nomination said.

It was then used as a factory to make corsets and bras. With a peak of 659 employees, it was Ishpeming’s leading employer for a time.

The factory was the scene of a 1949 strike “that is important in U.P. history for the leading role played by women in beginning and carrying out the strike,” the nomination said.

Workers represented by the International Ladies Garment Workers walked off the job in a dispute over wages and other issues.

The strike was settled after the company agreed to a wage hike and union shop.

This historic structure well represents organized labor’s proud history in the central Upper Peninsula. This recognition is entirely approproate and very much earned.