2012-03-22 / News

Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club Buildings Earn Listing on National Historic Register

By Mary Petrides


Manitou Lodge, which used to be patronized frequently by members of the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge, built in 1931, is an example of large-scale log resort architecture of the era, and is also significant as it relates to the early automobile tourism era of Upper Peninsula history. The lodge now houses the Natural Historical Museum for the Hiawatha Nature and Historical Society. Shown here is its lobby (right), and an exterior view. (Photograph courtesy Michigan Center for Geographic Studies) Manitou Lodge, which used to be patronized frequently by members of the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge, built in 1931, is an example of large-scale log resort architecture of the era, and is also significant as it relates to the early automobile tourism era of Upper Peninsula history. The lodge now houses the Natural Historical Museum for the Hiawatha Nature and Historical Society. Shown here is its lobby (right), and an exterior view. (Photograph courtesy Michigan Center for Geographic Studies) Two properties owned by the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club have landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The first is Manitou Lodge, and the second is the commissary and maintenance building on the grounds of the club in Engadine. The club is an outdoor refuge owned by its members.

To be considered for the National Register, a place must meet one of four criteria. It may relate to historic events or broad patterns of history, relate to historically important people, be a good example of a particular architectural style or the work of an important architect, or be likely to yield important archaeological information.

Manitou Lodge, built in 1931, was originally used by the Hiawatha members. The lodge is a good example of large-scale log construction and log resort architecture of that era, said club member Betty-Ann Glascock.

“It was a beautiful, rustic, and well-patronized lodge,” she said. “It had a long screened porch overlooking Lake Michigan.”

“Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club, itself, is significant as a major recreational enterprise from the early motoring days of the Upper Peninsula,” said Bob Christensen of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which handled the application. “Manitou Lodge is certainly significant as an example of that rustic fieldstone kind of construction.”

The nearby dining hall burned down in 1962, and the lodge was patronized much less frequently afterward. In its prime, however, club members could stay at the lodge or the cabins on Lake Millecoquin. The lodge provided a quieter atmosphere, indoor bathrooms with separate showers and tubs, electricity, and running water.

“It was a rustic lodge but also very modern facilities,” Mrs. Glascock said. “Manitou Lodge was very popular for people who didn’t want to rough it.”

The lodge is now the Natural Historical

Museum for the Hiawatha Nature and Historical Society.

The cooperage mill, the primary industry in Engadine, burned in 1926. The resulting loss of jobs brought about a significant population drop and, by 1931, many buildings were vacant. One of these buildings was moved to the club in 1931 and became the commissary. The maintenance building was built the same year.

The two buildings, listed as one property on the National Register, are historically important as part of the Upper Peninsula’s early recreational history in the 1920s, when cars were becoming more common and the Upper Peninsula roads, including US-2, were improved.

The commissary featured a hand-pump gas station out front for club members to fill up their cars and boats.

The first commissary manager was Joseph Patrick Rahilly of Newberry, who later founded the grocery store with his name in Newberry. Emmet Joseph Vallier took his position in 1933. Later, he started Vallier’s Country Delight Grocery in Naubinway.

The maintenance building is built of white-frame clapboard. In 1946, the club needed a larger maintenance building, so the original building was used mainly as a warehouse from then until the 1970s.

Now, the commissary is called “Paintin’ Place,” used by the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club Art Group as a dust-free area for painting. Soon, the Hiawatha Craftsman’s Group may use the maintenance building for woodworking and ceramics.

Membership is about 1,700. In the 1930s, it was closer to 1,500, said Mrs. Glascock.

Now that the buildings are on the registry, club members plan to post plaques in front of them.

Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club is private, but those interested in seeing the buildings can call the club at 477- 6592 and ask for a tour.

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