2016-12-08 / Front Page

Historic Church Revives Evening of Caroling

By Erich T. Doerr

The Christmas carol sing-a-along at the Gros Cap Church in Moran Township will take place Sunday, December 11. This is the first time it has been held since 2010. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last about an hour. It will be followed by a reception with refreshments at Gros Cap School.

The caroling program will be the first event at the church since efforts to restore the 1918 structure began in 2015. The National Park Service added the church to the National Register of Historic Places in May 2016. It is hoped a full restoration of the church can be completed for the building’s 100th anniversary in 2018.

Janis Holle is heading up the restoration effort and plans to attend the caroling event, hoping the revival draws good attendance.

“I’m happy we have a program together,” Mrs. Holle said. “People will be ecstatic (with the restoration work)… This is our heritage. We’re not altering it, we’re just putting it back the way it was.”

Tex Hamel and his country western group the Rusted Spurs will be a featured part of this year’s caroling event. Most of the carols for the sing-a-long will be classic ones, although a few modern Christmas songs may also work their way in.

The church has two organs. Elaine MacDonald will play the upstairs one during Sunday’s event. A new propane furnace has just been installed to heat the church; it will make its debut during the event then is scheduled for use during the painting of the building’s interior this winter.

The interior of the church was worked on a lot this year. The roof was leaking but that problem was fixed when the roof was redone. The ceiling has been repaired. The walls have been painted with primer but the final coats will not be done until later. Penny Rudolph O’Neil and her son, John Adams, an architect, have researched the original colors that will be brought back when the interior is painted.

“The interior isn’t in bad shape at all,” Mrs. Holle said.

The downstairs organ will be restored later on in the project, the paperwork describing the organ’s model having just been located. John Austin, a former commander at Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, previously restored both of the organs in the 1970s.

There have been a number of other repairs this year. Cryderman Builders restored the bell tower earlier this year with a new rope and siding work. Rick Mazier secured the porch handrail. The interior has been cleaned, the windows caulked, and exterior scraped and primed for painting by Jason Soblaskey. New lights have been installed on the exterior.

There is still much to be done at the church during the restoration efforts in 2017, including repairing or replacing damaged portions of the stained glass windows. The property also needs to be excavated, as rainwater runs toward the building after storms. Estimates are being taken for a new back door, porch, and railing. Ken Gillmore is also planning to make a new sign for the building and redo an additional one already on the property.

Mrs. Holle said the church project would not be receiving a grant this year from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, although she will apply again next year. She is also looking at grant options from Cloverland Electric Cooperative and a national home improvement store chain.

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