LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the downtown commercial districts of Ishpeming, Negaunee and Wayland were added in the National Register of Historic Places.

Administered by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, the National Register of Historic Places is the U.S. federal government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects judged worthy to be preserved because of their historic significance.

“Pure Michigan is home to so many historic, beautiful communities and I am proud of Ishpeming, Negaunee, and Wayland for being added to the National Register of Historic Places,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This designation will help local economies in and around these three downtowns and help us continue growing Michigan’s economy, creating good-paying jobs, and lowering costs for working families.”

The newly added historic districts include a total of 135 buildings and structures with 100 of those considered to contribute to t he historic character of the areas.

“Many benefits come with listing a community’s historic commercial core in the National Register. Chief among them is access to historic preservation tax credits, which can be applied to reduce the long-term costs of rehabbing historic buildings,” said Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer, Mark A. Rodman. “Listing also becomes a point of pride for residents, and can be a driver for economic activity and growing heritage tourism.” 

The Ishpeming Main Street Historic District contains all of the buildings on both sides of Main stretching from Front Street to Ready Street along with a few adjacent buildings on both Front and Ready. Several of the buildings are constructed from Lake Superior Red Sandstone which was quarried locally and used in many Upper Peninsula Buildings.

Buildings in the Ishpeming Main Street Historic District.

“This is a great leap forward for the city of Ishpeming. We believe that this will create a new platform for enticing developers to come and revitalize our town,” said Ishpeming City Manager Craig H. Cugini. “The benefits of such recognition will also help to guide tourism to our city while encouraging folks to discover our rich history.” 

This district also contains the oldest surviving commercial Italiante-style buildings, the high style 1891 Anderson Building and Jackson’s Hardware.

“I’m so proud of both the Negaunee Downtown Historic District and the Ishpeming Main Street Historical District for their recognition on the National Register of Historic Places,” said State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette. “Each community and its historic downtown buildings represent our rich iron ore mining heritage that defines our region in the U.P. Watching community members come together to restore and invest in these areas one building at a time gives everyone a great sense of pride, and it will help preserve our history for generations to come. These honorable awards wouldn’t be possible without the State of Michigan and the MEDC, and we are forever grateful for their partnership. Hats off to everyone involved who made this happen. Your dedication and commitment are appreciated and noted by all of us in Marquette County.” 

The Negaunee Downtown Historic District includes most of the traditional downtown core of the city from West Peck Street to the north, Rail Street on the south, Teal Lake and Pioneer Streets to the east and Tobin Street to the west.

Buildings in the Negaunee Downtown Historic District.

“This is another economic development tool in our toolbelt. We’re making good on our promise to preserve our history while focusing on our future,” said Negaunee City Manager Nate Heffron. “The city extends a special thanks to the MEDC, SHPO, National Park Service, Preservation Forward, members of the Special Committee on Cultural and Historical Preservation, and all those that made this achievement possible.”

The district contains commercial buildings, Negaunee City Hall, Iron Cliffs Company Office Building, the Vista Theater, two former railroad depots, two churches and two former schools. Similar to Ishpeming, many of the buildings feature Lake Superior Red Sandstone.

“It has been great to see the cooperation of SHPO and MEDC in the revitalization and rehabilitation of the historic downtowns of Ishpeming and Negaunee,” said State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “Community and history matter. Ishpeming and Negaunee recognize that and having these partnerships is critical to that vision.” 

The Wayland Downtown Historic District is a “four corners” district centered on the intersection of Main and Superior streets and radiating out from a half to a full block in each direction. A unique feature in the district is the Henika Library, built in 1899 in a Richardsonian Romanesque style.

“Historic preservation has been an essential function for Wayland Main Street during our 12-year history, with over 40 buildings in our 8-block district receiving façade or building restoration work,” said Wayland Main Street/DDA Executive Director Teryl Shields. “Having downtown Wayland listed in the National Register of Historic Places is not only an honor and something of which to be proud, but it also continues to offer our building owners a further economic incentive to continue to rehabilitate and maintain their buildings. We’re excited to share our town’s rich history by continuing to preserve its lovely historic buildings.” 

Nearly 2,000 properties in Michigan are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To be considered for the list, a property must generally be at least 50 years old and also be significant when evaluated in relation to major historical events or trends in the history of their community, the state or the country. A property must also be able to convey its significance.