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St. Ignatius Loyola Church

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1889–1902, E. Brielmaier and Sons; 1928 entrance; 1956 memorial hall and kitchen. 703 E. Houghton Ave.
  • (Courtesy of Keweenaw National Historical Park)

This large Catholic church built of solid red Portage Entry sandstone commands a view of the Portage Canal and Hancock. It has a strong mid-European flavor and is one of the finest works yet identified in the Upper Peninsula of E. Brielmaier and Sons, a Milwaukee firm of noted church architects for German, French, Irish, and Polish parishes. The Reverend Anton Rezek Jr. led the campaign to build the church. A spired tower set between two shorter pyramidal-roofed towers rises at the center of the gabled building's north facade. It contains the belfry with a pointed-arched louvered opening set beneath a pinnacled gable in each face. The church's buttressed exterior walls are laid with evenly coursed, rock-faced sandstone that displays some leaching to white as commonly found in Jacobsville stone.

The church's nave, short transepts, and apse are covered by a plaster ceiling enriched by a complex system of ribs, made up of ridge and transverse ridge ribs, tiercerons, and liernes, and decorative bosses. Although the rib system is English, the wide open spaces hint at German influence. The triangles between the ribs of the vault over the altar are richly ornamented. A soft yellowish-white, pink, rose, and gold coloration adds to the lovely light decoration. Brilliant stained glass memorial windows manufactured by the Gavin Art Glass Works of Milwaukee fill the Gothic-arched windows. The grossly inappropriate classical enclosure of the front portico was added around 1928 to adapt the church to the harsh climate.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "St. Ignatius Loyola Church", [Houghton, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 471-472.

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