There’s no doubt that Marquette County is, for the most part, frozen in time. Marquette residents take pride in preserving the natural history of the city: ranging from a complete historic district that still contains the first house built on Ridge Street in 1867 to the oldest standing lighthouse on Lake Superior that was built in 1868. Even the original courthouse and city hall still stands in the downtown area. But you can find the most information on the history of Marquette by visiting the Marquette Regional History Center or the Marquette Maritime Museum. Both of these museums display the rich history and culture of Marquette, that will make you feel as if you are back in the 1840’s
The Marquette County Historical Society was founded in 1918 by local residents who wished to preserve the history of their hometown. They purchased the original museum building from an estate sale in 1937, but they didn’t open its doors to the public until 1949. The center was eventually moved from its original spot on Front Street to its new facility that it’s at today in 2011 and was renamed the Marquette Regional History Center. “Regional” was used to reflect how much the museum’s collection and focus have grown to encompass an area larger than Marquette County. “Center” means that it offers more than just artifacts, but is an adventure through the unique history of the Upper Peninsula. The museum’s permanent exhibits include an underwater Lake Superior exhibit, 11,000 year old footprints, prehistoric tools, and signed Martin Luther King Jr pamphlets. They also offer special exhibits that are only shown at specific times throughout the year that range from old Yooper toys to Henry Ford in the U.P. You are able to buy a membership in order to attend all these exhibits year round in order to gain the full experience of immersing in the history of Marquette.
Another unique facility of Marquette is the Marquette Maritime Museum. This establishment focuses on the history of Marquette also, as well as the maritime history of the Great Lakes and the submarine veterans of the city. The museum was opened in the City Waterworks building in 1982, and also includes access to Marquette Harbor Light, a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Superior. The major displays of the museum include two major shipwrecks, remnants of three lighthouses, and an impressive lighthouse lens collection. The museum also houses a marvelous memorial of the submarines USS DARTER and USS DACE and their role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 23-26 1944. This is relevant to Marquette’s history because the commander of the USS DARTER was Captain David McClintock, who was a resident of Marquette who spent 30 years in the Navy. The key exhibits of the memorial include a 3-D diorama depicting the Battle of Leyte Gulf, a 40 foot tall World War II periscope, and an array of submarine memorabilia. This museum is unfortunately only open in the summer, so make sure you plan your trips accordingly!