I hope you all enjoyed my recent blog post in this series, Why Michigan Will Always Be Home. While that specific blog post honed in on the living in Michigan as a whole, I had to take the time to highlight why I feel that living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is “superior”!
I’ve lived 26 out of the 32 years of my life in the Upper Peninsula. I’ve fallen in love with the natural wonders and untouched wilderness that make up this great region. Some of my favorite places to visit and truly be a “tourist” are right here in my backyard. Whether it’s traveling with my family to Copper Harbor, Brockway Mountain, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Mackinac Island, playing on a sandy Lake Superior or Lake Michigan beach, hiking in the woods, bike riding, there are endless amounts of fun to be had.
We recently took one last trip to Lake Medora before we move to Minnesota and I am already dreaming up when we can make another Keweenaw family trip after our move. While Lake Medora we go on our annual drive through the Keweenaw which takes us along Lake Superior, we lounge at the lake, and cook s’mores over a bonfire until dark. Once, it’s dark enough, and we’ve had our fair share of s’mores, we recline back in our chairs and stare at the clear night sky – dotted with millions of stars. Sometimes, we even see the Northern Lights. It’s one of the most breathtaking experiences.
Aside from natural wonders, another reason to live in and love the Upper Peninsula is the rich history in many of the buildings and structures still standing today.
As with any historic town or city, there are older structures that slowly start to deteriorate. Small towns can only do so much to keep these buildings intact before inclement weather, wear and tear slowly chip away at them. I love that the Upper Peninsula has taken a lot of its old buildings and have renovated them into beautiful structures that serve a new purpose all while keeping their original “look” and “feel” intact.
A specific building that comes to mind is the old Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette – otherwise known as the “Orphanage” to those of us who have lived in the area. You can see the roof of the large building from just about anywhere in the city.
While attending Northern Michigan University from 2005-2010, I watched as the orphanage slowly continued to crumble, little by little…becoming a consistent home for vandalism. It wasn’t until 2017 that the orphanage became known by its new name, The Grandview Marquette. With the new name, came a new upgraded look that managed to preserve its original appearance. The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) partnered with a handful of organizations to make sure the units were affordable for Marquette residents and ensure that the rehabilitated structure aligned with their mission of providing homes and preserving places for the people of Michigan – Marquette specifically.
The Grandview Marquette now has 56 units of affordable housing for working families in the area, with eight units set aside for homeless individuals and families – who will now have a home. Six units are reserved for those seeking rental assistance/low-income households and in-home medical services. Seeing these old structures get restored gives me so much pride in our local Upper Peninsula communities. The people who live, work and play here year-round know the value in keeping this an authentic place on the map that values historic preservation and establishing a sense of place, creating memories that can last for generations. See below a great video on how the Grandview Marquette came to be with Michigan State Housing and Development Authority’s help!
A few other building projects in the Upper Peninsula buildings that MSHDA has worked on are the Morrison School in Calumet, Richter Brewery in Escanaba, Lloyd’s Department Store in Menominee, and Adams and Masonic Buildings in Sault Ste. Marie. MSHDA’s commitment to revitalizing and growing communities by creating affordable housing and boosting economic development is something I appreciate so very much as a “Yooper.”
Whether it be historic sandstone structures, a starry night sky, crashing waves along the Lake Superior coastline, cooking s’mores over a fire, there are so many beautiful things that contribute to my love for the Upper Peninsula.
If you’re someone who couldn’t agree more and want to make Michigan’s Upper Peninsula home, visit MSHDA’s website to see how they can help!