Historically speaking


ISHPEMING — John S. Mennie was born on Christmas Day, 1860 in Toronto, Canada. He came to Ishpeming in 1881 and worked in the construction field.

In 1891, working for EE Grip & Company as a master draftsman, he designed both the Sunberg Block in Negaunee and the Anderson Block in Ishpeming. He may have designed other buildings, as well, but those two are the only ones that had his name on them.

In 1899 he left EE Grip and Company and accept a position as master carpenter with Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company.

CCI was in the midst of a large building program and Mennie was busy supervising all construction projects on the Marquette range and also projects on other ranges as well.

He was an important man on the Marquette Range and a frequent visitor to Cliffs Cottage when William Mather was in residence.

In 1903 at the Lake Superior Mining Institute meeting, which was held in Ishpeming, Mennie presented a paper he wrote entitled “A New Changing House at the Cliffs Shaft Mine, Ishpeming.”

He was instrumental in the building of the new changing house. The previous changing house burned in 1901.

Changing houses were particularly susceptible to fire as many of them were heated so the miners’ clothes would dry in time for their next shift. Mennie, who may have also designed the new dry, wanted to make the building as fireproof as it could be, to prevent having to rebuild it.

Mennie was part of the fire department for many years and served as fire chief, although it is not known when he was chief. In 1890, he was part of the re-organization of the fire department.

He was also heavily involved in the Masons, and was a past master of Ishpeming Lodge, F. & A.M.; past high priest of Ishpeming chapter, R.A.N.; past commander of Lake Superior Commandery, Knights Templar; past potentate of Ahmed Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and a member of Francis Moore Consistory.

One of his last projects for CCI was to supervise the building of the Mather Inn during the summer of 1931. He retired from CCI in 1932, the year the inn opened.

At some point in his later years he and his wife began renting one of the apartments in the Mather Inn and in fact he died in the apartment.

His wife died in 1942 and Mennie was found dead in his apartment on October 13, 1943.

Services were held at the Bjork funeral home and the Masonic burial service was given at the grave.


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