Friday, August 17, 2018

Old Hancock High School listed in National Register of Historic Places

The former Hancock Central High School, now part of Finlandia University, was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- The former Hancock High School building on Quincy Street, next to the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, and now owned by Finlandia University, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Hancock City Council learned of the listing during their meeting on Aug. 15, 2018, from a letter to Hancock Mayor Lisa McKenzie from Brian D. Conway, State Historic Preservation Officer.

The letter states, "I am pleased to inform you that the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, has listed the Hancock Central High School, Hancock, Houghton County, Michigan, in the National Register of Historic Places. The Keeper of the National Register listed the property on July 24, 2018.

"The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Nominations of Michigan properties to the National Register are made by the State Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. Information on the National Register and related SHPO program can be found at

"While listing in the National Register does not place any legal restrictions on a property, it does allow for consideration in the planning for federal or federally assisted projects; provides eligibility for federal tax benefits; qualifies properties for federal assistance for historic preservation, when funds are available; serves as a catalyst for economic development; and promotes heritage tourism. Additionally, some granting organizations require or look favorably upon National Register-listed properties."

Finlandia University President Philip Johnson said Finlandia is very happy about this historic listing for the building.

"Achieving recognition for the old high school on the National Register is one more piece in Finlandia's desire to honor this building's iconic status," Johnson told Keweenaw Now. "Finlandia's commitment is to retain the missional purpose of this wonderful building: education. We continue to plan for its restoration and renovation with the goal to have it serve as Finlandia's College of Health Sciences. Our priority is to 1) preserve, even restore its historic character; 2) turn it into a truly collegiate instructional space; and 3) design or preserve those spaces that can be used for community and cultural activities such as performing arts, recreation, and continuing education."

The present building replaced an 1875 junior/senior high school that was destroyed by fire in 1922. The new school was built in 1923-1924, and elementary, junior and senior high students attended it over the years until 1970, when elementary students were moved to other schools. A new elementary school was built in 1989. A new high school opened in 1999 on Campus Drive, and students in grades 6-8 remained in the old building on Quincy Street. Junior high students then moved into a wing of the new high school in 2010, when the Hancock School District gave the old building to Finlandia University.*

* Click here for the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, with historic photos of the old high school and descriptions of the building.

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