The building was built by Colonel James Pickands, a civil war veteran from Cleveland, Ohio. Pickands came to Marquette for the opportunity in mining/ore business in 1867 and opened Pickands & Co: Heavy Hardware, Mining & Railway Supplies. James became Marquette's fourth mayor in 1876 and in 1881 built what is known today as the Harbor Ridge House

Pickands later diversified into pig iron, coal, and shipping in partnership with Samuel Mather, Jr. (son of founder of Cleveland Cliffs) and Jay Morse (Pickands' brother-in-law.) Pickands & Co Mather was founded in 1883 and became the second largest producer of iron ore in U.S. The mining interests sold to Cleveland Cliffs in 1986, and the shipping business continues to this day as Pickands Mather Group.

After Pickands wife passed in 1882, he went back to Cleveland with his family and sold the hardware business and building to its second owner, Charles C. Hall.

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The Call House

Charles Call resided in another "East Side Original" home known as The Call House. The Michigan State Historic Site at 405 E. Ridge Street was originally built for Henry Mather, the first President of Cleveland Cliffs. He is the nephew of Peter White, an original settler of Marquette. Call is listed as Special Deputy Collector of Customs, operating out of the second floor of what was then 200 Lake Street. Call and his business partner, A.O. Jopling were local agents for Standard Oil.

In 1888, A.O. Jopling took over the hardware business on Lake Street. A civil engineer by trade, Jopling emigrated from England and later became lead engineer for Cleveland Cliffs and Peter White's son-in-law. He and white served on the Mackinac Island State Park Commission

Into 20th century the hardware store closed as the sandstone building at 200 Lake Street was passed between the hands of many different owners. 

By 1897, Duluth South Shore & Atlantic Railway (DSS&A) owned The Customs House and essentially used it to store papers.

In 1960 DSS&A folded into Soo Line, another CP subsidiary and by 1987 Soo Line sold to private investors. Those investors formed Wisconsin Central, who later sold the building to Canadian National.


In 1991, the was purchased by the Baker family and ownership has remained with them since then.

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behind the name

Back in the day Marquette was a seasonal port, in effect closing during the winter. Since there was not a demand for a year-round office, customs agents used temporary offices around town as needed. In 1868, virtually all the city burned down to include the harbor, and those temporary offices that held the records went up in smoke. The building that stands at 311 Lakeshore Boulevard replaced the temporary offices as the customs agents worked from the second floor, thus earning the name of "The Customs House"