Being particular to Bosch Brewing Co. – this is a Bosch Brewing Company building after all – a bit of Bosch history may be in order. The Bosch family emigrated from Baden, Germany, in the mid-1800’s. Joseph founded his first brewery in 1874 and began brewing his German style beer with Torch Lake Brewing Company located in Lake Linden. In 1883, production reached 4,000 barrels a year. Due to “honorable business methods and superior quality” of his brew, the little company expanded. He purchased the old Union Brewery just west of Houghton, then operating under Scheuermann Brewing Company. The Michigan House site was purchased in 1903 from Haas Brewing. He built this opulent saloon and hotel (opening in 1905) to further market his brew. Bosch Brewing was incorporated in the late 1800’s and by 1911, Bosch Brewing was the second largest corporation in Houghton County – the copper mines being the largest. Their annual capacity was 50,000 barrels – equivalent to 100,000 “kegs” used in taverns today.
To put that in perspective, The Michigan House Cafe operates under the name of Red Jacket Brewing Company as a Brewpub – with a bi-weekly capacity of 3.5 barrels and an annual capacity of 84 barrels – certainly endeavoring to follow in Joseph’s stead with honorable business methods and superior quality.
The recipe developed for our flagship beer is a truly hand-crafted vintage brew with ingredients quite common in 1905. Oatmeal and hand pressed espresso extractions from fresh roasted coffee beans are the primary flavoring elements in addition to barley, hops, and Maris Otter grain. It’s our Oatmeal Espress.
Jack Foster, an engaging gentleman from Calumet, has shared a few “Michigan House” stories that add to the aura of this old building. He worked here in 1927 as a hotel clerk. Jack remembers, as part of his duties, going down to the train depot ( 2 blocks away on Oak Street) twice a day to pick up hotel guests or drop them off. It seems to him that one trip was early in the morning and the other was mid-afternoon. He’d shout “Hunks, bunks, and trunks” to announce his affiliation with the Michigan Hotel (the Michigan House name while still an operating hotel). He would take the hotel horse and buggy to the station. He received $1.00 a day for his work here.
Jack recalls that the Michigan House horse’s name was Doc. Doc was black with rather long hair – and Doc ate the pie crust out of Jack’s lunch every day – he remembers with a smile.
Jack also spoke of a character called “Taxi Pete” – he was one of the cab drivers in Calumet in the late twenties who adopted the end of the bar as his office. Taxi Pete could be found near the tall window by the door [the original face of the first floor had the large windows of the period along Oak Street]. Jack also recalls many “huge” potted plants near these windows.
Besides Taxi Pete, the bar was also known for the unique beer pump – although its description is sketchy – we understand that it had flashing lights whenever a draught was pulled and that it is still in the Keweenaw area at this time. The original bar was a “standing” bar and did not have bar stools.
The Bangor ran aground in the winter of 1927 near Copper Harbor. Jack talks about the crew of the Bangor being brought to the Michigan Hotel to be treated for exposure. Two doctors were brought here to work in the make-shift hospital. We have two wooden Whippet wheels in house that were salvaged from the Bangor’s cargo of vehicles.
Isabelle would stop in for French Onion Soup occasionally. She grew up here in the early 1900’s. We’d get a smile when she saw Annie Clement’s portrait (Big Annie) and she’d exclaim that “Annie never looked that good.” (Isabelle was five at the time.)
We continue to gather stories of the history of this building. Please let us know if you have information to share.