It was French Canadian catholics that banded together in 1900 to construct a grand monument to the gothic inspired cathedrals found across the French countryside. The result was St. Anne’s who’s soaring sandstone bell tower has anchored Calumet’s business district for over a century. In Christian theology Anne was Mary’s mother, and in turn grandmother to Jesus. As the Patron Saint of French Voyageurs she was the perfect choice for a parish of immigrants with French ancestry.
At the time of St. Anne’s construction, church architecture was entering a transitional period between the Gothic and Romanesque Revivals. Previously almost every church built along the peninsula was built in the Gothic Style, which is easily identified by the use of the pointed arch. After the turn of the century, church design began to follow the Romanesque principals, which dropped the pointed arch for a more conventional rounded arch (the result of which was St. Joseph’s). St. Anne’s would be the last great Gothic Church built in the Copper Country, an architectural epitaph to a dying species.
The single most identifiable feature of the Gothic style is the use of a pointed arch, otherwise known as an ogival. This arch is used in various structural and decorative roles, but is often most recognizable as a window element. Here is one of the fourteen stained glass windows which grace St. Anne’s Nave. The windows are separated by protruding buttresses – seven on each side.
The pointed arch is used once again along St. Anne’s west wall (which actually faces north), where the parish’s three main doors are outlined by a series of nested arches. Known architecturally as compound arches, these terraced recesses are the building’s most striking features.
Gothic architecture is further defined by its emphasis of a building’s vertical elements in contrast to the Romanesque style’s favoring of the horizontal. At St. Anne’s several different approaches are utilized to accomplish this, including the use of these compound arches. Along with the sharp roof peak above, these alcoves push the eye upward instead of to the right or left.
Another interesting design element utilized by St. Anne’s to emphasize the vertical is the use of random ashlar stones along the building’s walls. As seen in the photo above, this chaotic layering of stones does not allow for distinct horizontal banding (known as coursed stone). Interestingly, the buttresses themselves are coursed however. This was possibly done to further strengthen the buttresses vertical stature and to de-emphasize the walls themselves.
But just to mess up my theory, the buildings decided to use coursed stone work for the entrance pediments as seen here. But of course these are technical “vertical elements” themselves, thanks to the use of the compound arches and pointed roof line.
Sitting along the north wall of the nave is this protruding structure. This houses the stairwell to the church’s balcony I believe. Note how this element has coursed stonework as well, while the wall behind it is not.
Sitting along the front of the building is this sandstone wall, which is not original to the church. Early photos (including the one I used in the Calumet Churches post) do not show this wall. I have no idea when it was added, but the use of sandstone in its construction places it rather early in the building’s life I would think.
Last but not least we take a look at St. Anne’s soaring tower. While most French Gothic churches utilize a very symmetric front facade that usually use two towers (think Notre Dame), St. Anne’s takes a more classically American approach and uses a off-center single tower. Once again, as a vertical element the tower utilizes coursed stone work yet again. Click on the image to view the tower from a different angle.
While St. Annes may have been the most notable Gothic inspired church in the region, there are many more where that came from. We’ll start with St. Mary’s next….