Houghton County

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Houghton County is named for Douglas Houghton, who was a Michigan geologist and Mayor of Detroit from 1842 to 1843.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Lake Superior and Keweenaw County  

E – Lake Superior and Baraga County

S – Iron County

W – Ontonagan County


Created:  March 19, 1845                       Map of Michigan highlighting Houghton County

County Seat:

Eagle River ( Keweenaw )  1853 – 1861

Houghton                            1861 – present


County Courthouse – Houghton 


Location:  401 East Houghton Avenue / Dodge Street

Built:  1886 – 1887

Style:  High Victoria

Architect:  John B Sweatt of Marquette

Contractor:  John Wahlman and E E Grip of Ishpheming


Description:  The building faces north and is a four story Milwaukee cream colored brick and red colored sandstone structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Houghton and sits on a hill overlooking the downtown area. The building has a polychromatic exterior. Red colored sandstone forms the trim above the central entrance and above the windows. In the center is a high four story tower with the entrance at the base. The east section extends from the main building and has two high brick chimneys. The mansard roof is copper. The interior is decorated with rich wood, stone fireplaces, and ornamental plaster. The floor consists of red, brown, and light yellowish brown tiles. A carved oak staircase joins the floors. The interior of the courthouse was designed by Charles Eastlake of England, using heavy, elaborately decorated plaster and woodwork.In 1986 a five story addition was built on the south side. The architect was UP Engineering and the contractor was Herman Gundlach.


Note:  The courthouse was constructed at a cost of $75,568 and contained a jail and sheriff’s quarters. The cornerstone, with a miner’s coat of arms, was laid on July 24, 1886.


See:  The architect, John B Sweatt of Marquette, also designed the courthouse in Baraga County and Keweenaw County. The contractors Wahlman and Grip built the courthouse in Gogebic County and E E Grip built courthouses in Dickinson County and Ontonagon County.


History:  From 1849 to 1853 county meetings were held in the offices of the Lake Superior Company and then in the Phoenix Copper Company building. Eagle River became the county seat in 1853 and in 1861, the county seat was moved to Houghton. The first courthouse was a frame structure erected in 1862. The second and present courthouse was constructed in 1886 to 1887.


See:  Michigan’s County Courthouses by John Fedynsky




County Courthouse – Houghton































Photos taken 2007 and 2010