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Mather Inn renovation moving along

November 19, 2008
By JOHANNA BOYLE, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - Despite the current economic climate, an Ishpeming landmark is on its way to getting a new lease on life.

The Mather Inn at 107 Canda St. in Ishpeming was once a vibrant landmark, and served as the residence for the cast and crew of Anatomy of a Murder in 1959. The George Baird family of Ishpeming is renovating the inn.

"We're aiming to provide a special place and atmosphere, cater to people's needs. It's really the only thing like it in the Ishpeming area," said Robin Peterson, Baird's daughter who is heading up the renovations from her home in Florida.

Article Photos

A view of the Mather Inn from Canda Street in Ishpeming Tuesday.

"We want to bring some life back to Ishpeming," she said.

The Inn has been under renovations since before 2004 when work on the roof and windows began, Peterson said, and it's historical status is one of the reasons for the length of the project, which she hopes will be completed by late spring.

One floor of the building is complete with work continuing on the facade and the remaining three floors, she said.

"History is very important. We're using the original plans from the 1930s to put things back the way they were," Peterson said. "It takes time to be able to plan and to find pieces of history that can be used."

Renovations are being done using photographs of the building from when it was first built, and the owners are working with local artists to redo the dining room murals to make the construction as authentic as possible, Peterson said.

The city of Ishpeming is working with the family in regard to tax credits and a grant for the facade of the building through the Michigan State Department of Housing and Development, said Dan Mitchell of the Ishpeming Downtown Development Authority.

"The Mather Inn is a landmark and will bring back that historic tie. It will bring people back to Ishpeming and will create a focus for that end of Main Street," Mitchell said.

The Inn will connect the city center hub, including places like the Ishpeming Carnegie Library and the statue of Old Ish, he said.

When it opens, the Inn will provide banquet, office and meeting hall facilities, as well as 17 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The apartments will target residents approaching retirement interested in moving back to Ishpeming, Peterson said.

"We definitely want to provide all-inclusive housing for people approaching retirement, especially when they're used to the harsh winters up here," she said. "They want to have a care-free lifestyle."

The combined services of the apartments and the banquet halls could provide employment for five to seven employees, depending on reservations, Peterson said. Apartment residents will have first choice when it comes to renting the banquet halls, in order to build a sense of community within the building, she said.

Besides the building community, the main push for the project is to give back to the Ishpeming area, including potential involvement with the anniversary of the film Anatomy of a Murder, Peterson said.

"We want to listen to what the community is asking for," Peterson said. "It's good to have a place that people can come back to and celebrate life.



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