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Trinity Episcopal Church celebrates 150th anniversary

August 7, 2010
By Garrett Neese, DMG Writer

HOUGHTON - Throughout moves, new buildings, pastor changes and more, Trinity Episcopal Church has persevered. This summer, the church is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

The church was founded in 1860, when nine local businessmen banded together and met with Rev. Samuel A. McCrosky, the state's Episcopal bishop. Particularly popular among the area's immigrants from Cornwall, the church was built on the Oxford Movement, a 19th-century theological movement that argued the church had become too secular.

After the group began a discussion about a permanent building. While they first erected a wooden building in Hancock, the decision was later changed to ship it to land in Houghton owned by Shelden, a member of the congregation.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Garrett Neese
Trinity Episcopal Church in Houghton celebrates its 150th anniversary this month.

The church paid a contractor to move the church across the canal.

"They hauled it down to Portage Lake one night and put it on a barge," said senior warden Marcia Pruner.

According to a possibly apocryphal story, one wag snuck down over the night and slapped a sign on it saying "bound for hell." Luckily for the congregation, that didn't pan out; but it did somehow slip its bounds.

"In the morning, it was floating down the canal," Pruner said.

The church was recovered and placed on the Houghton land. It remained there until 1910, when it was razed and a new Jacobsville sandstone structure was erected in its place, opening on Easter 1910. It has remained there since.

Several artifacts of the old church, including the original stained-glass window and altar, are featured at the new building.

The church is also known for its minute carvings of Biblical scenes in the sanctuary.

"In order to clean them, you have to vacuum them, because if you use a rag, you'll break off a finger," Pruner said.

Other changes have been made to the site since, including the addition of a new parking lot and a new handicapped-accessible entrance.

The church has worked with the Canterbury House, a non-profit student organization that helps international students build their English language skills ad cultural understanding.

In 1995, the church built a two-story addition. The pastor's office is on the first floor; until recently, the second floor housed the Keweenaw Family Resource Center, which provides a variety of services to parents with children 4 or younger.

With their move to the new Treehouse facility, the second floor is now being used by a Unitarian church.

"They were happy as larks" about the move, Pruner said.

The church is celebrating its 150th anniversary on Aug. 22. Numerous former pastors are returning, Pruner said, including Herman Page, who was pastor during the church's 100th anniversary. Now in his 80s, Page is retired and living in Kansas.

"We couldn't just let it go by," Pruner said of the anniversary. "We had to do something."

About 40 people regularly attend the church, down from a peak of 120.

"Thanks to Michael (Scott) and a couple other people, we're able to have sermons every Sunday, which is good," Pruner said.

Garrett Neese can be reached at gneese @mininggazette.com.

 
 

 

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