HISTORY LIVES

Keweenaw Heritage Center reaches quarter-century

The doors of the Keweenaw Heritage Center, the former St. Anne Catholic Church building in Calumet, features impressive architectural design constructed with locally quarried Jacobsville Sandstone. (Scot Stewart photo)

LOOKOUT POINT • By Lee Arten
The Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne’s will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with special events all this summer.  The facility, which serves as a museum, educational facility, and a venue for musical performances, meetings, weddings, receptions, and other gatherings, is located at 25725 Scott St. in Calumet.
The building, which originally served as St. Anne’s Catholic Church, has a long and eventful history.
In fact, the story of the church and the Keweenaw Heritage Center could be made into a film. The production would start in old-time sepia tones with Jacobsville Sandstone being quarried and moved to the site of the church. The switch to color would come in 1900 as St. Anne’s Church was constructed.  If not then, certainly when the many large stained-glass windows were installed. Those who donated funds for windows had their names crafted into the bases of them. The names still shine brightly when the sun comes through the glass.
Next, the film might show montages of the church at work:  weddings, baptisms, funerals, festivals, Christmas, Lent and Easter services.  Included would be shots of the massive entrance doors swinging open for all of these events and more.
During the region’s mining boom, which began in the 1800s, workers in the copper mines were organized by ethnicity. New Englanders owned the mines and Cornish immigrants (mostly) ran them. Finns, Italians, Croatians, French Canadians and others worked in the drifts and stopes underground. The system minimized language difficulties underground and lasted for years.
Likewise, area churches were also organized by ethnicity. St. Anne’s was the French-Canadian church and French language classes were taught there. A church located behind St. Anne’s was Carmel Lutheran, “The Swedish church.”  Carmel was smaller and less imposing than St. Anne’s, but it was also made of Jacobsville sandstone.
St. Anne’s was active as a church for 65 years. Then, mining declined and the population did as well. Until 1966 there were five Roman Catholic churches in the Calumet area. Then the Catholic Diocese of Marquette closed three of them, including St. Anne’s.
While the film would not have to switch back to sepia at this point, the colors would be muted for a while after the church’s decommissioning…

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