|Downtown Negaunee offers a surprising amount for browsers: antiques, handcrafts, art, architectural artifacts, and a beguilling array of pastries at Midtown Bake Shoppe. Tino's Bar & Pizza (right) has been the hometown anchor for decades. A county-wide theater group is working to restore the Vista Theater next door.|
Downtown Negaunee and its inexpensive space have drawn a number of enterprises centered on food, art, and antiques. Lately there's even been real investment in rehabbing properties. Jack Beamer and Tim Geraldo are renovating The Iron Inn tavern at 305 Iron in a respectful historical vein. Rehabbing enthusiast Jim Kantola turned the abandoned train depot into a rather elegant but still authentic one-unit inn or event venue. He then bought an old eleven-room hotel at 219 Gold near Rail and turned it into an energy-efficient house (R-60 on the roof, radiant heating and hot water from one hot water tank) for his family, using some salvage materials.
Iron Street is downtown's main commercial street. From U.S. 41 outside Negaunee, turn south onto Teal Lake Road/Bus. Route 28 (under the viaduct), right onto Main, left onto Pioneer, and right onto Iron.
Downtown highlights, arranged from east to west, include:
• VISTA THEATER. 218 Iron. The most impressive of Negaunee's seven onetime movie theaters, the 1926 Vista is the home of the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council, which is slowly restoring the theater. For a restoration update and schedule of upcoming events, visit www.vistatheater.org .
• TINO'S BAR & PIZZA. 220 Iron. Feel the intensity of local pride in this hangout, festooned with mementoes of the Negaunee Miners, past and present. See restaurants.
• ADORA GOWARD ANTIQUES. 308 Iron. The unusual name celebrates owner Cory Rowe's grandmother, who introduced her family to antiquing. Three floors (almost 10,000 square feet) provide lots of room for Cory Rowe's general line: Arts & Crafts, pottery, lighting, architectural artifacts, primitives, and Victorian. The Upper Peninsula has such a treasure of historic buildings that normal demolition and remodeling, unfortunate that they are, create a continuing supply of architectural salvage such as woodwork, doors, hardware, and stained glass. (906) 362-3769. Open Mon-Sat 11-5, often at 10. Wheelchair-accessible: first floor.
• MIDTOWN BAKERY & CAFÉ. 317 Iron. Marybeth Rowe's bright blue bakery is now a most welcome café, serving healthy soups, sandwiches, and salads. And it is a community gathering place. The look is eclectic, with dinette sets and tables and chairs from years gone by, and offbeat changing exhibits by area artists. Checkers, chess, backgammon, and magazines invite customers to sit down and stay awhile. A group of older women friends comes down after lunch and does just that.
Marybeth, a self-described chocoholic, worked for years as a pastry chef in Chuck Muer restaurants. She looked for space for an eat-in gourmet bakery in Marquette but found it too expensive. Here the Midtown staff bakes excellent breads, morning pastries, cheesecakes, tortes, mousses, muffins, and cookies for individual customers and special events. No low-fat, low-taste substitutes here —Marybeth uses only butter and fresh whipping cream. Favorites include cheesecakes, carrot cake, and banana cake, made with her grandmother's recipe and covered with chocolate ganache (a heavy cream-chocolate mixture) poured over each piece of cake. In good weather the space next door becomes an outdoor café.
Marybeth's approach to food is like that of the French: enjoy a rich dessert occasionally, and eat sensibly, with quality ingredients, the rest of the time. Her bout with cancer brought healthy living to the fore, and her restaurant menu reflects that. She has done several Avon Cancer Walk marathons (all 26.5 miles). (906) 475-0064. Winter hours Mon-Fri 8-5, Sat 10-5. Summer hours Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 10-5. Wheelchair-accessible.
• TICKLED PINK. 320 Iron. Carole Prisk seeks out "pretty things for you and your home" They may be antique, vintage, or new. (906) 475-3087. In season: Mon-Sat 11-5. Nov-April: Nov-April: Wed, Fri & Sat 12-5, Sun 11-4.
• OLD BANK BUILDING ANTIQUES. 331 Iron. Jeff Plumber has taken over, culled the previous assortment of inventory, and is upgrading the building. New, larger dealers, 12 at the moment, have created vignettes, rather than rows of shelves. He himself focuses on Art Deco and mid century retro. Some day he'd like to have a coffeehouse and organic food store on the ground level. The noteworthy triangular building was erected in 1912 for the Negaunee State Bank. Noted Marquette architect Demetrius Charlton designed it. (906) 475-4777. Open year-round Mon-Sat 11-5, Sun noon-4. Not handicap-accessible.
• LOWENSTEIN ANTIQUES. 334 Iron. Dan Michelson has moved his music store into the basement and turned the spacious upper level into an antiques mall. (906) 475-4892.
• NEGAUNEE CITY HALL. Corner of Silver and Jackson. Silver is the diagonally intersection street down the hill of Iron Street. Go right (north) on it. This forceful, eclectic architectural composition from 1914-1915 is like few others. Horizontal bands of white limestone and darker brick emphasize the chunky, rectangular shape of the two and a half story building, contrasting to the massive, square clock tower, 94 feet high, shooting up from its central entrance. In Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Eckert writes, "This flamboyant government building was planned at the time when the population of Negaunee was on the rise and the production from Negaunee mines was approaching its peak." It makes a statement about the city's optimism, she implied. Today city hall still houses its original uses: city offices, police station, and library. (906) 475-7400. Open business hours.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
Michigan Iron Industry Museum. Nestled in rugged, wooded hills on the site of an 1848 iron forge, this choice small museum tells the story of U.P. iron mining, its pioneers, its workers, and its key role in U.S. industrialization. ... more