Historic Places in Bessemer 

Bessemer City Hall and Fire Station

Information from Dennis Rolando

John Gerhardt built the first city hall/fire hall in 1888 for $1,397.35.  It housed the fire brigade equipment and was maintained by volunteers.  The city offices were on the second floor with a metal stairway on the outside of the building.

1891 a “regular” fire department was organized and a brass fire pole installed for a fast route to the bottom floor for the firemen.
1903 the city purchased a new bell for the Fire Hall.  The bell is on display at Bluff Valley Park.
1910  The first person to arrive at the fire hall with a team of horses was given the job of pulling the wagon to the fire.
1920's the first motorized fire truck (Nash 4 cylinder) was purchased
1937 This truck was replaced with a Studebaker.  Also, about this time the firehall moved to the new City Hall.  The old firehall was sold to Irv Neault and the adjoining property from the C&NW Railroad.
1947 John Marchello moved his tavern into the old city hall/fire station and called it the Fire Hall Inn.
1952 Al and Regina Ballone took over the Fire Hall in from John Marchello.
1966 Joe Sophio took over the Fire Hall Inn and renamed it “Poor Joe’s”.
1975 Jim “Midge” Matrella purchased Poor Joe’s and the property adjoing from Irv Neault.
1990 Jim and Geri Whitburn purchased Poor Joe’s Bar.
2000 Dan and Melissa Whitburn purchased the bar from Jim Whitburn and renamed it the” Pit Stop.
2022 The Old Fire Hall/Pit Stop was torn down and a Kwik Trip was built.

1934 Initial work to build a new city hall under Civil Work Administration  government program.  The community was expected to have no cost.

1936  It was unfinished and had already cost local taxpayers $26,755.  Construction continued under Federal Emergency Relief Administration and then the Works Progress Administration agreed to finish the project for an additional $25,000 plus and additional $15,000 to furnish and landscape. Final costs including grants came to $100,768.71.

1937 The city offices moved into the new city hall at the end of South Sophie Street.  The fire department stayed in the old city until April when it moved all equipment to the new city hall.  The new Bessemer City Hall/Fire Hall (Memorial Building) was dedicated in November 1937.  A new cabinet, large enough to hold the trophies won by the firemen was built in the council chambers in City Hall

The current historic building was designed by N. Albert Nelson, a Swedish immigrant of Ironwood. The building is an interpretation of the neo-Tudor style.  A broad center gable with half timberings laid vertically and filled in with stucco embraces the small battered gable containing the main double door.

This "Jewel in the U.P." has stood proudly through the mining and lumbering boom years for seventy plus years.  Today (2022) it houses the City offices, an auditorium with stage, the public library and fire hall.

Colby Mine Memorial

At the base of Colby Hill on Spring Street|
Between the City of Bessemer and the Yale Location.

The Colby Mine Memorial honors the spot where iron ore was first discovered. The memorial was erected by the Gogebic Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution and dedicated on July 4,1940. An 8,000-pound boulder was moved from the hills of Bessemer to the site and added a bronze tablet commemorating the discovery of Iron Ore in the 1880’s reading …”1000 feet east is where Richard Langford discovered in Gogebic County..”

If you wander through the area -- be cautious -- look closely as parts of mining structures and open pits exist up in the hills surrounding.

                                                     GOGEGIC COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Gogebic County Courthouse
200 North Moore Street / West Iron Street
Bessemer. MI

 Architect:  Charlton and Kuenzli
Contractor:  Herman Gundlach and John Wahlman.
Style:  Romanesque

The county was created in 1887 and Bessemer was selected as the county seat. The first and present courthouse was constructed in 1887 to 1888 at a cost of $50,000. It had some renovations in 1915 and a new addition in 1974 costing $650,000.  The red colored rock for the courthouse was quarried from a mountainside a half mile away.

The courthouse was originally built with a steeple and four gargoyles. The gargoyles and the steeple were removed in the 1940's as pieces of the sandstone were falling and endangering guests. The pictures here are from old newspaper clippings and from the original blueprints of the courthouse. Notice the original blueprint also included a clock in the tower.

 For a detailed description go to
National register of Historic Places  # 81000306 


Dago Town was a location located on the bottom of Anvil Road.  It was also called Dago Flats and Little Italy because most of the residents spoke Italian.  It was the home to many proud Italian families of the Gogebic Range:  Mussattis, Giacherios, Nicolinis, Vittones, Parolaris, Castelettos, and others.

The houses were mostly built by the mining company for their employees (most likely for the Anvil-Palms mines).  The mining company charged $8 a month rent and took care of all the maintenance.  If a miner ago were laid up or laid off, the mining company would even provide firewood.

The houses didn’t have running water.  Residents got water from the town pump located part-way up the hill near one of the Rowe Shafts.  It was probably easier in the winter when the children could haul their sleds up to the pump and then ride them back down with the water bucket in tow.

Dago Town eventually faded away.  Some residents moved to Ramsay, some houses burned down, and the logs cabins fell down.  The last house there was torn down around 1947.

Most people would never guess there was a thriving little location on Anvil Road.  There were 18 families and 2 stores.  You can still pick apples from the trees that were once an orchard and maybe find some old logs from one of the cabins.

                                                               ABELMAN FAMILY COMPANY

By Dennis Rolando
MORE information available at the Heritage Center

The Abelman Clothing Company is just about as old as the city of Bessemer.  It was founded by Abe Abelman in 1887. He was born in Kovno, Lithunia in 1860.  Abe had a $20 gold piece in his pocket when he arrived in New York from Kovno, Lithuania in 1881 at the age of 21.  He worked as a tailor’s apprentice in New York City saving $25 and set off for Chicago.  He worked there a short while before becoming a traveling peddler and worked his way on foot to Northern Wisconsin.

Able Abelman founded the Chicago Clothing Store on Lead Street in Bessemer. He later renamed it the Ableman Company.
Abe married Ida Silverman on 7 June and together they had 9 children.
Abe moved his business to the building he purchased on the northwest corner of Longyear & Sophie Street (where the Post Office is now located.)
The Abelman Company moved to its present location at 325/327 S. Sophie Street.
1913:  The Bessemer Electric Co. installed electric lights in the Abelman Store building.

Abelman Brothers Style Shop opened in the present Abelman building.  Sayde returned home from McCormick Business College in Chicago.  Until then Ableman Clothing carried only men’s clothing.
Frank Abelman took over the clothing store and opened it as a new style shop.
Able Abelman died at the age of 92
Frank Abelman was appointed as collector of customs for Michigan by President Eisenhower.
The Abelman Co. celebrated their 100-year anniversary in business.
The Abelman’s building in downtown Bessemer was renovated.
Robert Abelman, Abe’s grandson and present owner is operating the Abelman Co. in its 135th year of business.