Building memories

Downtown Marquette structure had varied past

Meads’ Curiosity Store is seen in a photo taken Aug. 18, 1882. There is a note on the photo trhat says John Hallam, a later owner, is standing in front of the building. At top, right, the interior of Meads’ Store is seen. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

MARQUETTE — With last week’s demolition of the dilapidated building at 214 S. Front Street, making way for a beer garden, we’re looking back at the building’s long history. Built in the aftermath of Marquette’s Great Fire of June 1868, the building began life as Meads’ Store.

Thomas Meads was an English immigrant, settling first in Ontonagon where he joined his cousin Alfred in the jewelry and curio business. In early 1868, Thomas bought Alfred out and shipped his stock of goods to Marquette. His merchandise was still sitting on the dock when it was burned in the fire.

Despite losing everything, Meads reestablished his business and built the two-story building. The building stood alongside the street level tracks leading to the Bay De Noquet & Marquette Railroad Dock #3. This dock was later operated by the Marquette, Houghton & Ontonagon Railroad.

In Meads’ obituary, the store was described as “a veritable museum of Lake Superior’s natural curiosities” including Native American objects, minerals, and stuffed animals. For many years it was one of the tourist sights of the lake and no tourist who visited Marquette ever thought their visit complete without an inspection of Meads’ Store.

Herman R. Hadrich had worked for Meads in Ontonagon and followed him to Marquette where he continued working in the store as a silversmith. Around 1876, Hadrich took over the store and operated it under Meads’ name. Later he changed the name to his own and appears to have focused more on the jewelry side of the business.

At top, right, the interior of Meads’ Store is seen. (Photograph by B.F. Childs)

Following Hadrich’s death in 1889, Charles Schoch and John W. Hallam established the Schoch and Hallam Jewelry store in 1892. Dock #3 ceased operation in 1894. When the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad (DSS&A) built Dock #5 in 1905, the railroad tracks next to the building were elevated on a trestle.

DSS&A Dock #5 was replaced by Dock #6 in 1930-31, again with the trestle and elevated tracks. Schoch and Hallam remodeled the building around 1940. Schoch died in 1941 and Hallam continued operating as sole owner until his own death in 1961.

In April 1964, an employee and his wife, Robert and Sally Crandall, purchased the business. Robert had received precision instrument training while serving in the U.S. Navy before working at Schoch and Hallam. Crandall’s Jewelry offered name brand watches, bone china, crystalware, pewter and even Finnish imports. Couples would often purchase an engagement ring at the store before registering for wedding gifts. That same year, a sign, “Marquette Home of Northern Michigan University” was added to the trestle across Front Street.

The Crandalls renovated the interior of the building in 1968, adding a new ceiling, recessed lighting, walnut wall paneling, and widening the window display area. An exterior renovation, including the addition of a false front, occurred in 1970. It’s unknown exactly when the false front was removed. In 1975 they added a hand engraver and design jeweler to the staff.

After 26 years as Crandall’s and more than a century as a jewelry store, The Collector Antiques moved into the building around 1990. The store remained for more than 20 years. During this period, the trestle to the DSS&A Dock #6 was removed, revealing structural issues with the building- the buttress was being used to brace the side of the building. After sitting vacant for a few years, the last occupant was a pawn shop, M.T.’s Flea Market. The building then sat vacant again until it was condemned due to the structural issues.

Front Street, looking south, before 1900, is pictured. Note the train cars passing alongside the building. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

The front of M.T’s Flea Market is seen. (Photo courtesy of Pat Moncalieri)


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