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The Sandstone Architecture of the Lake Superior Region

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

Architecture, Michigan, Upper Peninsula

Published: July 2000
ISBN: 9780814328071
Pages: 344 Size: 7 x 10

Geography, geology, architecture, and biography are joined to create this detailed study of a region and the majestic sandstone with which it was developed—rugged buildings for a muscular landscape.

— Rochelle B. Elstein

From 1870 to 1910 the prosperity of the copper and iron mining, lumbering, and shipping industries of the Lake Superior region created a demand for more substantial buildings. In satisfying this demand, architects, builders, and clients preferred local red sandstone. They found this stone beautiful, colorful, carvable, durable, and fireproof. Because it was extracted easily in large blocks and shipped cheaply by water, it was economical. The red sandstone city halls, county courthouses, churches, schools, libraries, banks, commercial blocks, and houses gave the Lake Superior region a distinct identity. Kathryn Bishop Eckert studies this region as a built environment and examines the efforts of architects and builders to use local red sandstone. Eckert stresses the importance of the building materials as she explores the architectural history of a region whose builders wanted to reflect the local landscape.

Kathryn Bishop Eckert is past state historical preservation officer for Michigan, active in several local and regional preservation organizations, and Michigan advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is the editor of Buildings of Michigan (Oxford, 1993).

This text takes an unusual approach to the architectural history of a region by looking at one building material-sandstone. Eckert examines sandstone both as an industry, tracking significant quarries, and also as an important element of the built landscape. The scholarship is sound and the text is meticulously researched."

– Alison Hoagland, Michigan Technological University

Geography, geology, architecture, and biography are joined to create this detailed study of a region and the majestic sandstone with which it was developed-rugged buildings for a muscular landscape. Had Henry Hobson Richardson practiced in the Midwest, this is what he would have built. Obviously, the men who designed these handsome edifices are in his debt, as we are to the author of this book.

– Rochelle B. Elstein, Ph.D., Bibliographer, Northwestern University Library

Kathryn Bishop Eckert has given us a truly superb study of the sandstone architecture of the Upper Great Lakes. She has traveled the region, studied its buildings intensely, learned all the necessary geology, and consulted all the relevant archives. Her scholarship is first class, and her writing is lively. This book will reward anyone who is interested in this remarkable part of the United States."

– Leonard K. Eaton, University of Michigan