Keweenaw Heritage Center raises funds for new roof

 The front entrance to the Keweenaw Heritage Center.
The front entrance to the Keweenaw Heritage Center. (WLUC)
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 2:27 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Keweenaw Heritage Center, one of the cooperating sites of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, is fund-raising to replace the building’s roof.

Constructed in 1900, the building was originally a Roman Catholic Church. For 65 years as St. Anne’s, it served an essentially French-Canadian congregation. In 1966, the Dioceses of Marquette determined that it would be necessary to merge five congregations into two. Three of the buildings were deconsecrated. In 1971, the building was purchased to be the venue for an antique shop.

From 1966 to 1994, little or no maintenance was done on the building. It regressed from being a church to being an antique shop to being the setting of a horror movie in 1991. At the death of the owner, his estate arranged for selling the building to someone whose intent was to remove the stained glass windows and disregard the rest of the building.

The DDA of Calumet, a group called Foresight, and other individuals who were active in promoting the Keweenaw National Historical Park were able to stop the sale and raise approximately $50,000 to purchase the building. The Keweenaw Heritage Center board said there was more than 10 tons of junk that had to be removed; bushes were growing in the sandstone walls; pigeons roosted inside; window, steeple, and roof repairs were urgently needed. There was real concern about whether or not repairs could be done in time to preserve the building.

Twenty-six years later, the building stands nearly secure after donations and grants of nearly $1,750,000 and more than 100,000 volunteer hours have contributed to its rescue. Repaired windows, resealed sandstone, and reinforced walls have all been important projects. Although roof repairs have been made, replacing the roof remains a major project.

On Wednesday, Aug. 3, the effort to raise funds toward roof replacement begins with a dinner and entertainment. Eighty people who have indicated willingness to help with the cause will learn about the need and the effort. They’ll enjoy a catered dinner and entertainment beginning at 6 p.m., all part of a continuing concern to keep this beautiful building whole. As a contributing structure of a National Landmark District in Calumet, it’s an important part of the area’s heritage.

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