Twenty years ago, the Keweenaw Heritage Center looked like a run-down abandoned building. But now, through the help of the local community, it’s been renovated into what you see today on the corner of Fifth Street and Scott Street in downtown Calumet.
“We took it over as a community in 1994, and since that time we’ve spent $1.2 million on stabilization,” development chair Rev. Bob Langseth said. “We still have a long ways to go.”
This week marked the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the renovations, and local members of the community gathered together to pay tribute to the building formerly known as St. Anne’s Church in the early 1900s.
Rev. Langseth says the church was vacated in the mid-’60s and remained vacant for nearly 30 years. It had been in terrible condition when the community decided enough was enough.
“Over 100 of the windows here in the basement were busted out. Birds and seagulls had come in. It looked like fifth-graders had been here for a week with a pillow fight with all of the dead birds that had entered in,” Rev. Langseth said. “We went upstairs. The windows were busted by vandals, so the process was we had to stabilize the exterior first,” said Langseth.
He says each stained-glass window cost almost $11,000 to repair and features a fiberglass layer on the outside to prevent it from breaking. Rev. Langseth adds that the center wants to add a kitchen, as well as a virtual-reality exhibit of what Main Street in Calumet looked like in 1910. It’s one of the many plans they have to preserve this Copper Country landmark.
“It is a national historic structure,” Rev. Langseth said. “It’s on the history books of America as an outstanding resource for society, and that fits with Main Street Calumet. It is the gateway to Main Street Calumet, so between those two aspects, it’s a wonderful arena there.”
If you’d like to contribute to the renovation efforts, make sure to contact the Keweenaw Heritage Center.