Marquette, where history comes alive and dies

Two tales told on the pages of this week’s Journal offered readers a brief glimpse into the rich past our region has forged for more than a century.

In one piece, the incredible — and some have said impossible — comeback of an iconic building which has become nearly as emblematic of Marquette as the little red lighthouse along the Lake Superior shoreline. In the other, the rubble and ruins left behind from a failed dream of redevelopment.

The first story, if you haven’t guessed, is about the Grandview Marquette Apartments. This building has had its share of drama. It was constructed in 1915, and after being operated for many years as the Holy Family Orphanage, it closed its doors and has sat vacant since 1981.

In more recent years, the building has battled vandals, animals, bank foreclosures and more. Some have proposed ideas on how to use that property, but they never seemed to materialize.

At times, others have called for the beautiful brick and brown stone building to be bulldozed, and reduced to dust. But a plan to redevelop the structure into affordable housing units saved this piece of local history from the wrecking ball.

Developers say they’re on track to open the new residential building in mid-November, and we’re encouraged by all the work this team has done to restore a Marquette landmark.

However, the passing of time is not always so kind to old buildings.

It looks as if the Marquette shoreline is losing a piece of history, considering some ongoing demolition along Lakeshore Boulevard.

Demolition began recently on the nearly 130-year-old Lake Shore Iron Works building. It was built in 1890, and used to manufacture mining, milling and general machinery. Another group of developers, which has owned the property for about seven years, had planned to repair and repurpose the building, but it appeared to be too costly. So they decided to raze the structure instead, hoping the clean slate will be easier to redevelop.

City officials, after giving developers time to remedy the building’s issues, had declared it an “attractive nuisance.”

Though the loss of a historic structure is an unfortunate situation, in which fault can’t be placed on anyone, it’s probably better for safety reasons that the building came down, and we hope it paves the way for some positive changes there in the future.

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