Colenso’s was a premier clothing store in downtown IM | News, Sports, Jobs

This postcard view, probably taken in the 1970s, shows the east and west sides of the 400 block from South Stephenson Avenue in Iron Mountain, facing north: 403-405, SS Kresge Co. Variety Store; 407, Kresge-Khoury building, bar on avenue Joey Jaff (Joseph Jafolla); 411, Ace Walgreen Agency Drugs, (Don J. Nemeth and Marie H. Nemeth). On the west side of the street were: 400, Wright’s Men’s Wear (William J. Wright and Laura L. Wright); 408, Kushner’s (David Kushner and Eleanor Kushner), children’s clothing, and Pix Shoe Store (Emmabelle Retherford, manager); Colenso’s Inc. (John R. Colenso, Irving C. Hoffman), department store. (William J. Cummings)

IRON MOUNTAIN – The 53rd installment of Menominee Range Memories, a series of articles by William J. Cummings, historian of the Menominee Range Historical Foundation, now available on the Dickinson County Library website, is titled “Downtown Iron Mountain – 400-430 South Stephenson Avenue.”

History of 416: In 1978, it housed Superior Reporting Service, a court reporting service owned by Daniel H. Lori, as well as Superior Title & Abstract, with Daniel H. Lori as secretary-treasurer-manager. The firm provided summaries of the lawyer’s title insurance and title insurance. In 1979, Superior Title & Abstract was located at 615 S. Stephenson Ave.

There were no other business listings on this site in the city directories.

History of 424 (originally 414): The address of this business site, located at the south end of the west side of the 400 block of South Stephenson Avenue, was originally 414, but with the advent of new businesses over the years, it was changed to 424 in the 1973 city directory listing.

Brothers Max Dworsky and Paul Dworsky were building their new store at Iron Mountain when John Rowland Colenso and Margaret Edla “Peg” Colenso visited while on vacation in June 1948. John Colenso had corresponded with the Dworsky brothers earlier in the year regarding the purchase of their men’s clothing business.

Work on the Dworsky brothers’ new building in June had not progressed beyond the basement walls, and Stephenson Avenue was, in Peg’s words, “just a huge, deep ditch with no lampposts and the only sidewalk was on the east side of the street.” At that time, a new four-lane highway was being built across the city.

While there, the Colensos were surprised to find friends who had settled in Iron Mountain, as store managers for the SS Kresge Company, A&P Grocery, the JC Penney Company and the Montgomery Ward Company. These friends and other local businessmen urged them to move to Iron Mountain, even though John had signed a contract with the Foley Brothers department store in Houston, Texas.

By September 1948, the Colensos had made the decision to buy the business, and Colenso became one of the first clothing stores in and around Iron Mountain.

In 1961, Colenso’s Inc. (John R. Colenso, President; Irving C. Hoffman, Secretary-Treasurer) announced “Quality clothes for the whole family.”

John Rowland Colenso died on April 28, 1968 at the age of 55. In 1969, Irving C. Hoffman was on the list of presidents of Colenso’s Inc.

A third of Colenso’s Inc. interest was ultimately owned by Irving C. Hoffman. Due to health concerns, Hoffman wanted to sell his share, and C. Todd Colenso, John and Margaret’s eldest son, returned to Iron Mountain in July 1975 to help run the store. In the 1976, the city directory cited C. Todd Colenso as president of Colenso’s Inc. The store announced “Quality clothing for men, young men, best ladies, half sizes, pre-teens, juniors and moderate Missy” in the city directory.

Daughter Sherry (Colenso) Dillard worked at the store until her husband’s employment ended with the closure of the Groveland mine and they moved to Tucson, Arizona. The youngest son, Kim Colenso, also worked in the store, but was forced to move to a drier climate for health reasons in the late 1970s.

With the opening of Midtown Mall in Iron Mountain and Birchwood Mall in Kingsford, business declined and Colenso’s Inc. closed its doors permanently on January 31, 1981. At that time, Margaret E. Colenso was listed as President of the board of directors and C Todd Colenso as chairman.

In 1990, the Mid-Peninsula Library Cooperative was located in the basement, with Gary Silver as director. The co-op stayed there until 1996, when it built a new facility on Pyle Drive in Kingsford.

In 1997 the building was vacant but in 1998 Michael’s Fine Jewelry, owner Michael Frankini, occupied this site. In the 1998/1999 Combined City Directory, Cochrane Compressor Company, Industrial Equipment, John Zornen, Owner, was listed here.

History of 426: In 1973, Mrs. Jeanette Sauter was selling yarn and gifts to The Brass Knocker. In 1974, the owners were named Joseph A. and Jeanette M. Sauter, and the business continued there until 1978.

In 1979 the site was classified vacant, but by 1980 Melissa’s, a baby and children’s clothing store, was in operation here, owned by Therese Porta. The site was vacant again in 1981 and there was no further listing for Melissa’s.

In 1985, Raymond Beauchamp operated Beauchamp’s Camera Corner Inc. at 426 S. Stephenson Ave., as well as the ABC Phone Store, selling and servicing phones. From 1994 to 1996, Tabb Lonergan was appointed Managing Director.

In 1994, the Upper Michigan Rainbow Room was operating in the same location, selling clothing and souvenirs.

In 1997, no business was listed at this address. As of 1998, Jade Financial Service Inc., Dennis G. Engquist, President, had an office on the second floor and was still there in 2000.

Michael’s Fine Jewelry, owned by Michael Frankini, was briefly there in 1998-1999. In 1999, Wickert Floral, owned by Gregg Johnson and directed by Julie Olson, began operations here.

In 2010 Carlson Wagonlit Travel (Linda Van Beek, President) operated here.

Story from 430: There was no separate listing for this address until 1985, when Photo 1, a one-hour photo processing company owned by Frank E. and Alice M. Smith II and operated by Frank E. Smith III, started its activities here. In 1989 Frank E. Smith III was listed as the owner-manager of Photo 1. The business included processing hour-long photos, enlargements, selling film, cameras and accessories and was an output service for black and white slides and films. . Photo 1 was still active in 2000. In 1999 and 2000, Kis Photo was also located on this site.

In 2010, UES Computers Inc. was doing business here.

For more local history, visit

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