January 2006 News
Scott Hotel renovations make Hancock history
By Paula McCambridge
HANCOCK -- In a move that both makes and restores history, Mike Lahti, real estate developer and
Chairman of the Houghton County Board of Commissioners, is bringing life back to Hancock's
old Hotel Scott, now commonly known as the Scott Hotel.
Lahti is making history by renovating this historic five-floor building to create the city’s
first downtown senior housing -- 32 low-to-moderate-income apartments. The housing puts
seniors in low-rent residences that bring them within walking distance of downtown business
and services. Rent is expected to average at $470 for the one- and two-bedroom apartments
and will include heat and water, with laundry facilities.
|Mike Lahti, right, new owner and renovator of Hancock's historic
Scott Hotel building, takes a break with a Yalmer Mattila Construction Company crew during the removal
of scaffolding from the facade of the building on Dec. 19, 2005. Crew members are, from
left, Jim Hoke, Jerry Anderson and John Rajala. (Photo © 2005 Michele
Lahti is restoring history by overhauling the ailing 100-year-old Scott that has sat largely
empty for the past four decades.
“It’s been our highest priority to redevelop that building,” said Hancock City Manager
Glenn Anderson. “We’re delighted that Mike Lahti is doing this. It’s very important to our
Anderson added that the Scott has been 80 percent vacant for the past 40 years and that the
city’s downtown study in fall 2004 identified the building as one to restore.
Lahti purchased the building shortly after the study was completed and soon afterwards began the $4
million development project. He said he hopes the residences will add to the downtown
|Yalmer Mattila Construction employees work on removing scaffolding
from the Scott Hotel on Dec. 19, 2005. Jim Hoke operates the heavy equipment as John
Rajala, left, and Jerry Anderson work on the scaffolding. (Photo © 2005 Michele
“A building like that, undeveloped and vacant, detracts from the downtown,” Lahti said. “We
assume it will help out and encourage downtown walking traffic -- having people living there
and walking and shopping through the city.”*
The apartment building’s ground floor is open with three business spaces, two of which were
occupied before the holiday shopping season this year -- Miller’s Jewelry store and Gizmos,
Gadgets and Toys Galore -- both of which were formerly located on Quincy Street in Hancock.
The third space is available for occupancy.
The business owners are enthusiastic about relocating to the historic building, which is located at 101 E. Quincy Street, at the corner
of Quincy and Reservation, where the Hancock business district begins.
"Location, location, location," said Mike Shanahan, co-owner with his wife, Jane Shanahan,
of Miller's Jewelry. "I think it's an opportunity for the last of jewelry stores in Hancock
and Houghton to be the flagship store of Hancock's downtown."
|Mike Shanahan, co-owner of Miller's Jewelry, which
has relocated to the Scott Hotel, shows some jewelry to Customer Susie Landers of
Painesdale. Landers is the owner of Good Times Music in Houghton.**
(Photo © 2005
Lisa McKenzie, owner of Gizmos, Gadgets and Toys Galore, is also happy about the new
"It's absolutely wonderful!" McKenzie said. "I think the location is very conducive to
business. Parking is easy. It's much easier to get to and much more noticeable. I've had lots of positive comments on the restoration of the building."
|Lisa McKenzie, left, owner of Gizmos, Gadgets and Toys
Galore -- a Hancock business now located in the Scott Hotel -- shows some games to Lisa Heikkila of Chassell, who was
Christmas shopping in the store in December, accompanied by her son
Tristan, 3. (Photo © 2005 Michele Anderson)
The upper floors are under construction. Besides modern features, such as updating the
building’s elevator and adding balconies, there will be a number of restoration projects,
which include uncovering an outdoor atrium. Refurbishing much of the building’s original
architecture is a time-consuming task, Lahti said, but if all goes according to plan, the
apartments will be complete by the summer of 2007.
“We want to make sure the restoration is historically accurate, maintaining the historical
integrity of the building,” Lahti noted.
The Scott has a long and colorful history in the Keweenaw, once housing actors working at
the former Kerredge Theater next door, built in 1902 but later destroyed by fire.
Accounts are conflicting regarding the Scott Hotel’s construction, with most pointing to 1905. The opening date was August 14, 1906, with Hancock’s first mayor, Archibald J. Scott, proprietor. The business remained open until the 1960s.
In August of 1906, the Evening Journal reported that the Scott’s opening was delayed due to furnishing issues and described the hotel as containing a barbershop, saloon and dining room. According to this newspaper account, the hotel's kitchen must have been impressive: Its "culinary department" is described as "one of the most important features of hotel management," having a "sixteen-foot range with steel hood to carry off heat and odors.”
|This historic photograph shows Hancock's Hotel Scott,
now known as the Scott Hotel, as it looked in the early 20th century. (Photo
courtesy Mike Lahti. Reprinted with permission.)
At the time of its opening, the Hotel Scott possessed four wide balconies that ran across one side of the building. The balconies were later replaced by one wide veranda. An often-published photograph of the Scott with veranda attributes that photo to 1906, shortly after the hotel’s
opening; but it was actually taken in the 1920s.
The Scott was listed on the Michigan State Registry of Historic Sites in 1986 by the Michigan Historical Commission..
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