Mission Church

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For the shrine in Boston also known as Mission Church, see Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Mission Church
Mission Church Mackinac Island August 2011.jpg
Front of the church in 2011
Mission Church is located in Michigan
Mission Church
Location Huron St. at Truscott St., Mackinac Island, Michigan
Coordinates 45°51′0″N 84°36′32″W / 45.85000°N 84.60889°W / 45.85000; -84.60889Coordinates: 45°51′0″N 84°36′32″W / 45.85000°N 84.60889°W / 45.85000; -84.60889
Built 1829
Built by Martin Heydenburk
Architectural style Colonial, New England Colonial
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 71000409[1]
Added to NRHP January 25, 1971
Location of Mission Church on the island

The Mission Church is a historic Congregational church located at the corner of Huron and Tuscott Streets on Mackinac Island, Michigan, United States. Built in 1829,[1] it is the oldest existing church in the state of Michigan.[2] In 1971, the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]


The Mission Church is constructed in the New England Colonial church style.[1] It is a 1-1/2 story rectangular frame building sitting atop a plastered stone foundation and covered with clapboard siding.[2] The base construction is of heavy timber, and the interior is plastered.[3] The front facade has a double-door center entrance, and boasts a square tower topped with an octagonal belfry.[2] The roof is covered with wooden shingles.[3]


Original mission[edit]

The first Christian pastoral presence on Mackinac Island was that of David Bacon, who lived on the island for a short time beginning in 1802.[4] In 1821, Jedidiah Morse (the father of Samuel F. B. Morse) was reputed to have preached on the island on Sunday, and later advocated for a permanent mission on the island.[4]

In 1823, missionaries William Montague Ferry and his wife Amanda founded a mission on the southeast corner of Mackinac Island at the location since known as Mission Point.[5] This mission was primarily to educate Indian youth, and took on students from all around the Great Lakes region.[6] In 1825, they built a boardinghouse and school at the site,[5] and for some time the schoolroom was also used as a chapel.[7] During the winter of 1828-29, the Ferrys's congregation rapidly grew, adding 33 people to total 52 congregants.[7] Soon the churchgoers included Island residents such as American Fur Company magnate Robert Stuart, geographer and ethnographer Henry Schoolcraft, and carpenter Martin Heydenburk.[2] In 1829-1830 their congregation built this church.[2] Heydenburk and helpers cut and planed lumber on the main shore, transported it to the island, and finished the church over the winter.[8] The church was dedicated on March 4, 1831.[3]

The congregation eventually grew to number about 80.[9] However, changes soon came to the island: the American Fur Company withdrew, and the Indians which the mission school served were being deported further away from the island.[9] The mission, and with it the church congregation, declined.[9] The Ferrys left Mackinac Island in 1834,[9] and in 1837, the mission was closed.[5] In 1838 the mission property, including the church, was sold to a private owner.[2]

Later years[edit]

The church was used for some years for political meetings and plays,[10] and occasionally for church services.[11] In 1870 it was reroofed and used by the Catholic Church for services until St Anne's was constructed.[10][11][2] However, the building continued to deteriorate.[3]

In the late 19th century, the island became used more as a resort. The Grand Hotel was constructed in 1887, and the influx of summer residents soon overwhelmed the space available for the island's small Protestant congregation.[12] In 1894,[12] a group of residents purchased the church for nondenominational services, restored it, and opened it in the summer of 1895.[12] It was used for years primarily in the summer.[11][12] The Mackinac Island State Park Commission purchased the building in 1955.[2] The Commission restored the structure.[2] In the 1980s, the church was extensively restored.[10] As of 2012, the church is open to the public daily in the summer, and can be rented for weddings.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Mission Church". Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d F. Orla Varney (June 30, 1937), Old Mission Church HABS No. Mich. 214, Historic American Building Survey, retrieved June 5, 2012 
  4. ^ a b Meade C. Williams (1895), The Old Mission Church of Mackinac Island, Wilton-Smith, p. 7 
  5. ^ a b c "Mission House". Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Williams, page 8
  7. ^ a b Williams, page 10
  8. ^ Williams, page 13
  9. ^ a b c d Edwin Orin Wood (1918), Historic Mackinac: the historical, picturesque and legendary features of the Mackinac country, Volume 1, The Macmillan company, pp. 406, 408 
  10. ^ a b c d "Historic Mission Church". Mackinac Island State Parks. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c Williams, page 19
  12. ^ a b c d Wood, pages 412, 413

External links[edit]