Menominee, Michigan, (population 9,000) is located at the mouth of the Menominee River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The first non-Native American to ascend the river was French explorer Jean Nicollet in 1634, followed by several Jesuit missionaries, including Father Marquette and his partner Louis Joliet during their voyage of discovery to the Mississippi River in 1669.
A trading post was established near the mouth of the river in 1796. By the 1840s, a small population had settled there, engaged in trading, lumbering, and fishing. Growth continued and the city of Menominee was chartered in 1883. By the 1900s Menominee was a booming lumber town with a population of 16,000. It had sewer, water, and electrical systems; streetcars; and several opera houses.
As lumbering declined, manufacturing gained importance. At present, manufacture of furniture, electrical devices, fire protection equipment, pulp and paper, steel castings, machined parts, ships, and aircraft provide employment and a stable economy.
A walking tour of the city’s historic buildings showcases nearly every important architectural style of the last century. The restored historic Water Works, built in 1884 on the shore of Lake Michigan, is part of the city’s park system and is now used as a lounge for boaters and a public meeting facility. Within walking distance of the Historic Waterfront District is Menominee’s icon, the Menominee North Pier Light, otherwise known as the Menominee Lighthouse.
The city recently contributed to the restoration of the Abbott Home, an 1856 structure that belonged to the first postmaster of the city and served as the first post office. Work is underway to restore the 1902 Menominee Opera House as a regional performing arts venue and community multi-use facility.
Each July, the Menominee County Historical Society holds a tour of graves at the Riverside Cemetery, with volunteer actors playing the parts of historically significant citizens. The historical society operates a museum and research center housed in the former Catholic church that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2007.