Painesdale is an early-twentieth-century mining community, which was planned, financed, and managed by East Coast developers and inhabited by immigrant miners and their families. The town is named after William A. Paine of Boston, founder of the Paine, Webber and Company brokerage firm, who was a chief investor in the Copper Range Company and its president for thirty years. The Copper Range Company promoted and developed a section of the mineral range southwest of Portage Lake that contains the Atlantic, Baltic, and Isle Royale lodes. The Champion Copper Mine located near Painesdale was an important producer from 1899 to 1916, and, under the direction of its parent corporation, the Copper Range Company, it continued to produce intermittently until 1967. Rows of stock-designed miners' houses with sharp gable roofs and shingled or clapboarded siding form a community image of efficiency and homogeneity, even today. Noticeable remodelings have failed to obscure the strong sense of architectural line, scale, and arrangement of form that remains Painesdale's distinction as a single-industry company town. Moreover, they represent the changing heritage of a community whose legacy of copper mining dependence, though not forgotten, has faded into the past.
Originally, the Champion Copper Company's holdings consisted of approximately forty structures, including four shaft houses and four hoist houses, a railroad depot, an office, and several boiler houses. A half-dozen major buildings, a scattering of small sheds, and a number of ruins remain today adjacent to mountainous piles of discarded mine rock. They include handsome mine rock and sandstone masonry buildings like the E Shaft hoist house and the nearby machine shop, both rectangular buildings with gabled roofs and cut coursed sandstone walls (1902). The Copper Range Company offices were located in a large, two-and-a-half-story symmetrical building clad with clapboarding and topped with a steep hipped and dormered roof (1902). Located at the southeast corner of Hubbard Avenue and 3rd Street, it is positioned between the officials' houses and the mine. The E Shaft house, a functionally designed, steel headframe covering the shaft itself, stands southeast of the office (1906–1908).
North and west of the mine are located four residential enclaves of worker housing, known as locations, and a separate district containing officials' houses. B, C, and E Locations, and E Addition, or Seeberville, developed from north to south alongside operations following the course of the Champion copper lode. Rows of vernacular worker housing display elements borrowed from early-nineteenth-century New England mill villages, notably a shingled saltbox double house with six-over-six sash windows. An example is the B Location double house with paired front entrances sheltered by a nearly full-width porch at 198–200 Evergreen Street. Alternately, they were patterned after a narrow, gable-roofed single-family dwelling clad in either shingles or clapboards such as the C Location house at 162 Iroquois Street. This end-gable dwelling rests on a mine rock foundation, has an asymmetrical gabled porch supported with turned posts, and is covered with a shingled roof. Some of these houses were updated with leaded-glass windows and modest turned accents such as spindlework on the porches, but these details have disappeared where later remodeling has occurred. The houses were built, several at a time, between 1904 and 1917.
Houses for the mining engineers and other officials were more high style and include Colonial Revival motifs and those from bungalows. These houses are symmetrical, boxy wooden buildings with gabled roofs and classical details. They stand in a less uniform pattern on spacious lots rather than in tight rows. One example is the H. S. Goodell House (1904, Alexander C. Eschweiler of Milwaukee; 32 Hubbard Avenue). Built as a residence, it was later purchased by Copper Range and converted to a company clubhouse. The two-story, shingled bungalow has a front shed dormer and a double-columned rear porch. Another, the large Craftsman-influenced gabled house for general manager Lucius L. Hubbard (1903, Alexander C. Eschweiler; 31 Hubbard Avenue), is the most elaborate house in Painesdale. Bracketed gables accentuate the symmetrical facade and main entrance, which is framed by a shed-roofed porch with pediment and brackets. The shingled and clapboarded house rests on a raised cut red sandstone foundation.
East of C Location, the Copper Range Company landscaped a public square and around it built the Sarah Paine Public Library, the Albert Paine Methodist Church, and Jeffers High School. The library (1902–1903, Alexander C. Eschweiler) and an elementary school no longer stand, but the towered Gothic Revival church (1907) clad in shingles and clapboards still marks the northwest corner of the green. The huge red sandstone Jeffers High School (1909–1910, Alexander C. Eschweiler; 1933–1935 addition, John D. Chubb; 2003 addition) at 43084 Goodell Street is the most prominent building in Painesdale. Its rock-faced walls, coursed evenly on the raised basement and randomly above, are articulated with smooth-cut window surrounds and quoins. The buttressed projecting entrance pavilion has a richly carved Tudor arch. The band room, multipurpose room, cafeteria, gym, and a walkway linking the high school with the junior high school are a recent addition. The Finnish Athletic Hall and other public buildings no longer stand. However, the village green atmosphere still exists, and a number of small churches continue to represent the ethnic diversity of Painesdale.
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