The Village of Alpha, Mastodon Township, Iron County, is located in the southwestern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the late 1800’s exploration for iron ore began here, and eventually three ore mines operated in the area. Gradually a small community grew up, and by 1914 Alpha Village was incorporated. Also in 1914, the Alpha Porter School opened its’ doors to area students Kindergarten through 12th grade. For many years the Village and its residents flourished along with the mines, and the town’s population grew and several business establishments operated. By the 1940’s, there were two grocery stores, two churches, a barber shop, one tavern, a shoe repair shop, two gas stations, doctor’s office, watch repair shop, bank, post office, and a candy store. Unfortunately, as time went by, the ore “boom” began to taper off, and by the 1960’s iron ore production had dwindled. The school had remained a viable presence in the community for many years, but due to decreasing enrollment, its’ last class graduated in 1967. Then gradually over the next three decades, population continued to drop, all but one business left town, and the churches closed, until all that was left of the business section was the post office and the tavern.
After a brief period as Hoogland Wood Shop, Porter School was purchased by Alpha Opportunities, with a mission to “Preserve History, Provide Goods and Services, and Create Jobs and Opportunities.” In furtherance of this mission, a restoration for Porter School and the former bus garage was planned. Over the years, lack of use and maintenance had slowly deteriorated the buildings, which although still solid structures, extensive remodeling, updating, and repairs were needed to bring them into this century.
The first project was transformation of the old bus garage into the Alpha General Store, and what a transformation it was! The store opened for business in the fall of 2007, and has proved to be a wonderful addition to the Alpha community! A Farmer’s Market was started and that too has been quite successful bringing people together, plus providing healthy food choices.
Renovation has now begun on the old school classrooms so that they will be available for small businesses or other public usage. So far, some of the rooms have been cleaned and painted and other updating. To date, the following fledgling businesses have moved into the old school; Sewing Shop, Hand-made Soap Shop, an Antique/Collectible Resale Shop, Custom Bird Houses & Bee Towres, Specialty Pet Shop, and one of the rooms is home to the Porter School Library and Resource Center.
The Library is operated as a non-profit entity providing services to all who wish to access the offerings within. Reading material of all kinds is offered as well as computer access, with hands-on lessons for new computer users. Assistance is also offered for those wishing to do genealogy research. Special programs and speakers are provided on a regular basis.
Porter School Market Place
402 Main St
PO Box 70
Alpha, MI 49902