Depression-era UP lodge auctioned for nearly $1.3 million

Associated Press

Copper Harbor – A historic lodge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that was built during the Great Depression has been auctioned off for just under $1.3 million.

WLUC-TV reports that John Lamb of Corpus Christi, Texas, placed the final bid on the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Keweenaw County, which had been owned by the county. The auction will satisfy and debt owed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, according to the Mining Gazette

Lamb says he heard about it while visiting property he owns in Ontonagon, toured it and “fell in love with it.” Lamb must put down a deposit and pay for the lodge by mid-September to complete the sale.

The main lodge building has three large public spaces; a bar in the center and dining rooms to either side. These rooms are two stories in height, with exposed log trusses, upper and lower level windows or doors that let in natural light, and massive stone fireplaces in both dining rooms.

Lamb says he plans to keep the lodge open year-round and possibly expand its offerings. The county will operate the lodge until mid-September and Lamb indicated that reservations for the rest of the season will be honored.

The auction potentially ends a tumultuous time for the lodge, which was put up for sale last year and had two potential buyers, both of whom backed out. The most recent, a Dallas company that withdrew in October, cited concerns about efforts to get the property a historic designation that might limit its options to make the property profitable, the reported.

The property includes land, rooms, a nine-hole golf course and a string of cabins. It was built in the 1930s to stimulate the economy during the Depression.

Historic photo of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.

In September 1932, area mining companies announced that they would suspend operations there following the Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929. According to the lodge's website, the state emergency welfare commission at the time reported a 75% unemployment rate in Keweenaw County, the nation's highest.

As a result of Roosevelt-era public works projects, work on the lodge began as part of a park and golf course project on 167 acres donated by the Keweenaw Copper Company. The donation of the land came with the condition that a 9-hole course would be constructed and the park would always be open to the county's residents, the website says.

Construction of the course started in 1933 and work on the clubhouse followed in 1934. A year later, the Works Progress Administration was approved to build 10 log cottages, all with federal funds. Four more cottages were added later.