The Phoenix Church

Built in 1858 at nearby Cliffton, the Saint Mary’s Church served the Catholic people of Cliff and Eagle River for almost 50 years before it’s continued existence was threatened with the mines closure. Understanding the need for a Catholic Church to stay in the area, an ambitious plan of physically moving the church to Phoenix was undertaken. The building was cut in half and then moved over a mile east (by means of horse and wagon no less) to its present location at Phoenix. At Phoenix the church was renamed the “Church of the Assumption” and continued to serve the community for another 50 years. By 1957 the last regular services were held and the church was deconsecrated soon after.

Now the church is owned by the Keweenaw Country Historical Society and has been painstakingly restored to something more resembling its original appearance. The church is now used as a museum, and allows visitors to take a look at a historic church in an original setting and decor. It is easily visited by means of US41 which runs right in front of it, the same way we took a peek a few weeks ago. Here are some highlights.

A closer look at the steeple, showing a few decorative elements still evident today. The bell that now sits inside here is one from the demolished Catholic church at Gay.

All the original windows had to be replaced – just like this one. The original windows were not stained glass, making the task that much easier. The gothic arch atop each was most likely original.

A rear building sitting behind the church. Originally the building was built with living quarters attached to its rear, but I’m not sure if these ere it. They seem awfully small if they are.

The inside of the church as it appears today. Plexiglas panels keep you from entering, but according to the brochure two artifacts from every Catholic church ever built in Keweenaw or Houghton counties is inside here. (I wonder which church had the six foot priest mannequin).

The church was originally built for $1860 and was based on plans for the Holy Redeemer Church in Eagle Harbor (which the builder of this church also built) Here we leave you with a look at its front facade.

Show More


  1. wasnt it you who said there was a casino somewhere along that trail that goes from phoenix to eagle river? ive looked and looked and wasted alot of time on that trail looking for that durn casino and i cant find the darn thing! i dont know who you think you are but you cant just send people on wild goose chases looking for casinos that may or may not exist. and the trail is rough so i kept falling. do you know how many quarters i lost!? do you? if i did happen to find that wily casino how the heck was i supposed to play the slots when i lost all my quarters? when you have an answer to my question, you let me know. until then i dont want you filling our heads with anymore fantasies of alleged casinos, ya hear?

  2. I was in in this church at this Cliff mine presentation by the national park and it is really a beautiful church they opened it all up and u could sit in the pews.

  3. After almost 10 years of reading I think this is the first time I’ve seen this post, there’s some amazing stuff buried deep in this site. To the point about artifacts from surrounding churches: I read from Clarence Monette that most of the pews came from the larger St. Mary’s down the road in Mohawk after they tore it down in 1989 (or somewhere around there). I wonder where all the other fixtures may be from…

    1. Tell me about it. I wrote the thing and sometimes I’m just as surprised with some of the content I run across. That’s what 1300+ posts will do for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *