HOUGHTON - After dozens of trips up and down the stairs and elevator Saturday, Heritage Manor started looking and feeling more like home.
Volunteers turned out Saturday to help the first batch of returning residents move into their apartments. The residents had been out of the building since August, when they were forced to relocate after a fire.
Nine of the 42 residents were due back in Saturday. By the end of today, that number is expected to rise to 20; one or two people are expected to move in per day after that.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Finlandia University baseball players help move belongings of returning Heritage Manor residents Saturday. The first nine of 42 residents moved back into their apartments Saturday, seven months after a fire at the building.
Around noon Saturday, things were moving ahead of schedule, said Houghton Housing Commission director Sherry Hughes.
"This is the last time it's going to be this quiet," she said. "And that's a good thing."
Helping out with the move Saturday were Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, the Finlandia University baseball team, numerous groups from Michigan Technological University and other volunteers.
Finlandia baseball players Tory Sheffer and Gerard Taylor were carrying a chair into a fourth-floor apartment.
"It's good to give back to the community," Taylor said.
"When we're old, we want people to help us out," Sheffer added.
Katy Bird, a professional staff member at Michigan Tech, also helped residents move out after the fire.
"When we helped them move in the fall, they were all so devastated," she said. "Now, helping them all come back, they're all so happy, and it's nice to be part of that happiness."
The first to move in was Marge Griffor, who showed up at 8 a.m. With the changes to the layout of the apartment, she said, it was hard to plan ahead of time where everything would go.
"The guys were very patient," she said. "I said, 'Over here' and 'Over here.' The sofa had to be moved two or three times."
Pat Reed previously lived on the second floor, but moved up to the fifth floor after the fire. Saturday, she was admiring the view from her window.
Her couch and other furniture were arranged as she wanted them. But there was still work to be done, as attested to by the boxes stacked in her walk-in shower.
"Now I have to unpack boxes for two weeks," she said. "But it'll be fun, because these things have been in storage for five months. It's like 'Oh, I remember you.' My chime clock's been packed away all winter, and it's still chiming."