Architectural Missionary: D. Fred Charlton in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, 1887-1918

On today’s episode, we’re joined by Steven C. Brisson to discuss his book Architectural Missionary: D. Fred Charlton in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 1887-1918.
The first and most prolific professional architect to live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, D. Fred Charlton used Lake Superior sandstone to craft distinctive buildings throughout the UP. Born in England and trained as a civil engineer, Charlton arrived in Detroit in the late 1870s. There he sought work as a draftsman. Like many of his peers, Charlton had no formal training as an architect, and he learned his trade at several prominent firms. In 1887, Scott & Company sent him to Marquette to open a branch office. Three years later, Charlton opened his own firm, and over the next twenty-eight years, he designed more than four hundred buildings, including residences, commercial structures, schools, courthouses, and churches throughout the region. These buildings offer valuable insights both into the tastes of Americans before the World War I and into the evolution of the architectural profession. Deftly adapting national trends, Charlton provided Upper Peninsula communities with modern structures worthy of any place in the nation. Many of his buildings remain to this day, monuments to the skill of this English-born architect who made a place for himself upon the shores of Lake Superior. Architectural Missionary is a fascinating and informative history of Charlton’s work and of architecture in the upper Midwest.

Steven C. Brisson to discuss the life and work of D. Fred Charlton. Brisson is the director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, vice chair of the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History, and a former board member of the Michigan Humanities Council.

Architectural Missionary is available at  and other fine booksellers. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on Twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.

The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to the team at MSU Press for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo. 

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