HANCOCK – Hancock’s Downtown Development Authority wants to restore a historic home on Hancock Avenue. The city hopes to work with Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation on a revitalization grant to restore the Celtic House to its prime. The home was built in 1860, and later became the childhood home of noted ceramic artist Mary Chase Perry-Stratton.
“December of 1876, William Perry’s walking home. [There’s] Various stories about what he was doing, depending on who you ask. He’s accosted from behind by someone. Perry recovers enough, basically to testify, but he never fully regains his health. Then in February 1877 he dies there at home in the Celtic House. And shortly thereafter we know his family moves down state. Where, of course, Mary becomes quite prominent in the pottery world.” – Emily Schwiebert, MTU Archivist
After her father’s untimely death, Stratton moved with her family to the metro Detroit area. That’s where she co-founded a world-class pottery and tile company. Much of the tile work can be found throughout the Detroit area. Some groups even offer city tours of places that feature Pewabic Pottery tiles.
“And I think dabbling in the early onset of art up here, she took with her when her family moved down state. Eventually she was able to sort of find the inspiration behind her iridescent, sort of obsolescent technique. She was a pioneer, she was an icon in this craft movement in Michigan. Mary’s work is known internationally. You can find examples of her work across Michigan of course, including in Detroit. There’s also a lot of examples in local schools in the Upper Peninsula. Including Houghton High School, Ishpeming Public Schools and Negaunee Public Schools.” – Lindsay Hiltunen, MTU University Archivist
The Pewabic Pottery Foundation and some art centers in the Keweenaw are in support of restoring the Stratton childhood home. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Hancock, having survived a devastating fire in 1869. A New York Times article at the time said the fire started in a downtown Hancock saloon. There was no fire department at the time in Hancock. To learn more about the house, or Hancock history, go to cityofhancock.com.