Gov. Whitmer Announces Three Michigan Downtowns Gain Historic Designation Through National Register of Historic Places

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Ishpeming, Negaunee and Wayland will benefit from recognition, sense of pride that come with a downtown historic district

LANSING, Mich. - Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today announced that the downtown commercial districts of three Michigan communities have been added in the National Register of Historic Places. Administered by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, the National Register of Historic Places is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historic significance.

“Pure Michigan is home to so many historic, beautiful communities and I am proud of Ishpeming, Negaunee, and Wayland for being added to the National Register of Historic Places," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This designation will help local economies in and around these three downtowns and help us continue growing Michigan’s economy, creating good-paying jobs, and lowering costs for working families.”

Taken together, the Ishpeming Main Street Historic District, Negaunee Downtown Historic District, and Wayland Downtown Historic District encompass 135 buildings and structures, of which 100 are considered to contribute to the historic character of the areas.

“Many benefits come with listing a community’s historic commercial core in the National Register. Chief among them is access to historic preservation tax credits, which can be applied to reduce the long-term costs of rehabbing historic buildings,” said Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer, Mark A. Rodman. “Listing also becomes a point of pride for residents, and can be a driver for economic activity and growing heritage tourism.”

Ishpeming Main Street Historic District
The Ishpeming Main Street Historic District contains all of the buildings on both sides of Main stretching from Front Street to Ready Street, along with a few adjacent buildings on both Front and Ready. Notable in this district are the several buildings constructed of Lake Superior Red Sandstone, a distinctive building material used in many buildings in the Upper Peninsula, which was quarried locally. Among the buildings included, the district contains the oldest surviving commercial Italianate-style buildings, the high style 1891 Anderson Building, and Jackson’s Hardware, with its 1963-built attention-grabbing blue mosaic tile and blue and red enameled panel front and mounted lettered diagonal typeface bearing the store name, overlaid atop an 1880’s constructed building.

“This is a great leap forward for the city of Ishpeming. We believe that this will create a new platform for enticing developers to come and revitalize our town,” said Ishpeming City Manager Craig H. Cugini. “The benefits of such recognition will also help to guide tourism to our city while encouraging folks to discover our rich history.”

Negaunee Downtown Historic District
The Negaunee Downtown Historic District includes much of the traditional downtown core of the city, stretching from West Peck Street to the north, Rail Street to the south, Teal Lake and Pioneer Streets to the east, and Tobin Street to the west. This district contains more than just commercial buildings, as several distinctive downtown landmarks contribute: Negaunee City Hall, Iron Cliffs Company Office Building, the Vista Theater, two former railroad depots, two churches, and two former schools among them. As in nearby Ishpeming, the use of locally-quarried Lake Superior Red Sandstone is a character-defining feature of many of the buildings in the district.

“This is another economic development tool in our toolbelt. We’re making good on our promise to preserve our history while focusing on our future,” said Negaunee City Manager Nate Heffron. “The city extends a special thanks to the MEDC, SHPO, National Park Service, Preservation Forward, members of the Special Committee on Cultural and Historical Preservation, and all those that made this achievement possible.”

Wayland Downtown Historic District
The Wayland Downtown Historic District is a small “four corners” district centered on the intersection of Main and Superior streets and radiating out from a half to a full block in each direction. Unique within the district is the 1899-built Richardsonian Romanesque-style Henika Library, which after careful expansion and sensitive restoration continues to serve as a central community gathering place.

“Historic preservation has been an essential function for Wayland Main Street during our 12-year history, with over 40 buildings in our 8-block district receiving façade or building restoration work,” said Wayland Main Street/DDA Executive Director Teryl Shields. “Having downtown Wayland listed in the National Register of Historic Places is not only an honor and something of which to be proud, but it also continues to offer our building owners a further economic incentive to continue to rehabilitate and maintain their buildings. We’re excited to share our town’s rich history by continuing to preserve its lovely historic buildings.”

More than 95,000 properties across the country, including nearly 2,000 in Michigan, have been listed in the National Register since the program began in the 1960s. The National Register is a program of the National Park Service and administered by the states.

To be considered for listing in the National Register, a property must generally be at least 50 years old, and must also be significant when evaluated in relationship to major historical events or trends in the history of their community, the state, or the nation. A property must also possess historic integrity – the ability to convey its significance.

Listing of a property in the National Register is honorary and places no restrictions on what a property owner may do. They are not required to open the site to the public nor to display a plaque acknowledging the listing, although many companies offer plaques to recognize the hard work and effort to get a property officially listed. In addition, listing in the National Register provides opportunities for promotion, makes available certain incentives like grants and tax credits that foster investment in our cities, towns, and villages, and allows for the consideration of historic resources when federal funding or permits are involved.

Focused on the historic preservation of culturally or archaeologically significant sites throughout the state, Michigan's State Historic Preservation Office’s main function is to provide technical assistance to local communities in their efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, interpret and protect Michigan’s historic above- and below-ground resources. SHPO also administers an incentives program that includes federal tax credits and pass-through grants available to certified local governments.

For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program in Michigan, and on how to nominate a property, visit

For more information or a copy of any of these or other National Register nominations, please contact SHPO at

“It has been great to see the cooperation of SHPO and MEDC in the revitalization and rehabilitation of the historic downtowns of Ishpeming and Negaunee. Community and history matter. Ishpeming and Negaunee recognize that and having these partnerships is critical to that vision.”
State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township

“I’m so proud of both the Negaunee Downtown Historic District and the Ishpeming Main Street Historical District for their recognition on the National Register of Historic Places. Each community and its historic downtown buildings represent our rich iron ore mining heritage that defines our region in the U.P. Watching community members come together to restore and invest in these areas one building at a time gives everyone a great sense of pride, and it will help preserve our history for generations to come. These honorable awards wouldn’t be possible without the State of Michigan and the MEDC, and we are forever grateful for their partnership. Hats off to everyone involved who made this happen. Your dedication and commitment are appreciated and noted by all of us in Marquette County.”
State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette

“Wayland is a special community with strong leadership and community engagement. This recognition is further testament to their long-time work.”
State Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.