Building History: St. Francis Xavier Church

One of the most iconic buildings in Petoskey is the beautiful St. Francis Xavier church, on the corner of Howard and Michigan Streets.  Visible from drive along on US-31 along Little Traverse Bay, all the way to Harbor Springs, the tallest building in Petoskey has an interesting history.  

St. Francis Xavier Church, Petoskey, Michigan

According to the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Parish website, the church that stands today is the third church to house Catholic worshipers.  Initially, the first Catholic church in Petoskey was built in 1859 on the waterfront, by Father Sifferath.  This original building still stands, a monument to the courage and faith of the missionaries who traveled here.  It is open on Sundays throughout the summer and has been fully restored.

A second church was needed, and the first St. Francis church building was erected at the site of the current church today in 1879.  Over the years, new church buildings were completed on the same site, growing with each new stage.  Each time repairs or renovations were needed - even, at one point, entire buildings needing to be moved - the community would gather to help complete the task. Looking at the records of church members' contributions over the years, you recognize family names from members of our community who are still actively involved today.  Construction on the church we see today began in 1903;  the bricks were made in Boyne City and shipped to Petoskey.  The church was dedicated by Bishop Richter on November 26, 1908.

Every day, hundreds of local residents and tourists pass this monument to our city's past.  Next time you drive by, think of the changes that have occurred in our community, state, and country during the years this building has stood watch over Little Traverse Bay.  

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Bill Winslow

Bill Winslow

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