May Electrifying Experience
What a strange thing to be on the May Board meeting agenda for an all-volunteer organization that runs on donations! Why was the Keweenaw Heritage Center concerned about a strike?
This strike wasn’t a labor/management conflict. This was lightning. It struck the building on Fifth and Scott Streets in Calumet at 2:30 a.m on Wednesday, May 11. Dawn revealed two holes in the steeple of the former St. Anne’s church: one at the base of the cross; one about a quarter of the way down the tower. Equipment housed in the steeple for Pasty.com was destroyed.
Board member Tim Bausano saw roofing and wood on the ground when he came to work. Bob from Parkway came across the street to say that he thought lightning had struck the steeple. Tim immediately called Phyllis Locatelli, Board Chair. She and Township Supervisor Paul Lehto got things moving so that damage could be repaired.
Repairing holes to keep rain from ruining ceilings was first priority. To reach the holes, a high-lift with a bucket was needed. First report was that the company that made the roofing had gone out of business twelve years ago. But luck would have it that 41 Lumber had a bundle that matched. Someone had ordered it earlier but never picked it up.
Packrats of the world can be smug. Jon Carlson had a few pieces of ridge material left over. It also matched. Less than a week later, the steeple doesn’t look as if anything happened.
So once again, the building is intact, thanks to quick action by people who care about the building. Now what’s left is paying for the repairs. The Board is waiting to hear what will be covered by insurance and looking for ways to cover the deductible. Their hope is that the community will respond generously and that funds won’t have to be diverted from providing universal access to the building.
Fortunately, there was no fire. Volunteers and donors who have contributed to the seventeen-year effort to save this building can be relieved that damage was less than it could have been. Still, for an organization that runs on the proverbial shoestring, any additional expenses are a challenge to meet.
Donations can be made to: Keweenaw Heritage Center, c/o Calumet Township, 25880 Red Jacket Road, Calumet, MI 49913.
Would you like to help support this work? Goto our membership page link above for information on how to join us or contribute.
It's a great place for large events
Tours in the summer are available
Enjoy some of the many exhibits
Lower level conference center with WiFi available from Pasty.NET
Rescuing an old building means long years and lots of money spent on things like roof repair, tuckpointing sandstone, stabilizing floors, plumbing and wiring. None of those are glamorous; some of it doesn't even show!
The Keweenaw Heritage Center Board is pleased to assure all the donors that money has been well spent. We feel confident that restoration is well on its way to completion. Once the steeple is repaired, exterior structural repairs will be essentially complete. As in any old building, maintenance will be ongoing.
But come inside with us. The former St. Anne's church is taking on a new appearance.
2003 Photos Below
Climb the front steps to enter the beautifully restored doors. Wood and hardware gleam. The deep-grained, heavy oak doors are original. A gift from Mrs. Ann Locatelli in memory of her husband, Anthony J. and of her sister, Mary Sandretto Lizzadro, allowed us to contract with Dave Larson to bring them back to their former luster.
In one way, the doors were an entrance to more than the building. Mrs. Locatelli's gift was the first that was specifically for them. It was the first time that anything other than structural work was done. We are reminded of her generosity each time we walk through the doors.
Now come inside. From the columns under the choir loft comes a soft glow. Look up at brilliant stained glass works from Karen Bell-Hansen. Historic buildings and scenes from around the Copper Country are a fitting introduction to the Keweenaw Heritage Center. The Calumet and Hecla Library, Quincy shafts, Redridge Dam, Gay mill, and the Italian Hall are the panels that adorn the columns.
Karen spent a summer in the sanctuary of St. Anne's, creating these panels. Her work was financed by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. After she had toured with the exhibit of the panels, she presented them to the Heritage Center. They were suspended from a wooden frame.
A gift from the Americana Foundation has allowed us to put them in backlighted oak display cases.
Instead of waiting for sunshine to filter through other stained glass, you can see them in their glory any time of the day. (And guides at the Center don't have to hold their breath anytime a small child eyes the wooden frame with climbing thought in mind!) Many thanks to the Americana Foundation for this and other gifts. We hope Karen (who has moved from the area) sees her work on the website.
You can't miss the new staircase. It provides entrance to the choir loft as well as to the basement. Last summer, visitors could only go onto the main floor. This coming summer, they will be able to access the whole building. Removal of the old railing provides unobstructed view of all the stained glass windows.
This work, done through a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, was more than access and cosmetic. The choir loft is now stabilized. Cantilevered, it presented some interesting challenges to Witting Construction, the firm that did the work.
We're on our way to the basement. Please don't touch the sandstone. It's fragile and we haven't found out yet how to seal it. Kathryn Eckhart encourages us not to cover it up and we'd like to keep it open.
The basement work back in the fall and summer of 2003 wasn't as glamorous as some of the things that went on upstairs. Nonetheless, visitors will be sure to appreciate it. The grant from MCACA allowed us to replace the old stairway that came down from the side entrance. "Rickety" didn't begin to describe its former state. Now, it's a solid stairway which leads to outside doors that close and lock properly. Even better, it meets fire codes! You'll notice that we now have electricity which allows for EXIT signs.
The hole in the cement basement floor is gone. Summer efforts included replacing a support pillar which had to be done before the hole could be filled.
Remember the plumbing we talked about? The Board members who came in to help clean would draw cold water from a pipe in the dungeon like area under the altar. (There was a pile of straw that absorbed the drips. Ever wring out a mop that has been in cold, dirty water?) Still, it was better than having to carry water in. This heritage stuff can be overdone.
Visitors used to ask about restrooms. And we now have restrooms! And a sink which may be useful for meetings if refreshments are served.
A wonderful year of progress! As you can see, we still need a ceiling that meets code in the basement. There are many other tasks. Among them:
- Finishing work on the steeple is high priority. Keweenaw National Historical Park gave us a gift that will go toward this. We were able to ring the bell to help celebrate threir 10th Anniversary.
- Electrical work which will prepare the main floor for exhibits
- Railings for the front steps
- Other exterior work like the rear windows.
- Complete plumbing work
Barrier free access
Completion of work is still a long way off. But what a long way we have come! You can see what gifts from people like Mrs. Locatelli have done. You can appreciate all the good things that are the result of grants from Americana, KNHP, MCACA, UPPCo, and others. You'll see lists of individual donors. You won't see the approximately 17,000 hours of volunteer work.
Please join us in our efforts
Make the restoration of a magnificent building part of your own Heritage.