As a part of Houghton’s Shelden Avenue Historic District, the Continental Fire Company Building has its own unique story to tell. In 1841 rumors that “native” copper could be found on the Keweenaw Peninsula were verified by Michigan State Geologist, Douglass Houghton, and mining operations began in earnest in the area in 1845. The Civil War and the economic boom that followed increased the demand for copper which hastened the development of the entire region. With the opening of the Keweenaw Waterway in 1873 Houghton began to grow into a vital port city where supplies of all kinds were brought in, and copper and lumber were shipped out to cities around the Great Lakes. It was a bustling city populated by native Americans and immigrants from every continent.
Michigan’s U.P. can be a bit cold and dark in the middle of winter, and in the early days heating with coal or wood and lighting with gas or candles meant that fires were a constant threat, so the Continental Fire Company was organized in 1861. The “new” firehall was constructed in 1883 with the Company horses occupying the basement, the engines housed on the main floor, and the villages offices and a hayloft on the second. The Michigan College of Mines, now MTU, also used a portion of the second floor to hold its first classes from 1886 through 1889. Today the large chandelier which hangs above the second-floor bar occupies the space that was originally the building’s clock and bell tower. In days gone by the fire hoses were hung in the tower to dry. The village relocated their offices in 1930, but the Houghton fire department was based here for a total of 91 years, only moving to new facilities in 1974.
After the move, MTU once again made use the vacant building as a storage facility until 2012 when it was purchased by three young entrepreneurs who were anxious to see a cosmopolitan night club in their small city. Extensive repairs and renovations resulted in a modern, lively venue, and in 2017 the addition of a “state of the art” kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven and a large smoker completed the transformation.