Mission Church

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Mission Church
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]