Old Mission Mystery - Where Is This Church
Old Mission Mystery - Where Is This Church

At a recent meeting of the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society, Nikki Sobkowski, who’s currently serving as president of the group, brought along a few pictures she’d unearthed in her archives.

One is this undated mystery photo of a church somewhere on the Old Mission Peninsula. Written on the photo is “M.E. Church, Old Mission, Mich.” We think the “M.E.” stands for “Methodist Episcopal.”

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Old Mission Mystery - Where Is This Church
Old Mission Mystery – Where Is This Church?

At first, I thought maybe this was the original Ogdensburg Methodist Church, which was located south of the current church about a mile. If you’re heading north from the Hogsback on Center Road (just north of the Smokey Hollow intersection), the original church sat on the left/west side of the road just past the Hogsback.

Now known as Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church, the church sits on the top of the hill on Center Road, just before you get to Ladd Road/Old Mission Flowers.

However, upon a closer look, the road isn’t right, if this was indeed that church. I know our Peninsula roads have changed over the years, but that in no way looks like it goes south to the Hogsback. There would be some sort of curve there, and the land would drop off on the sides. Read more about the history of the Hogsback here.

I think this church was located where the historic log church is now located on Mission Road, on the right just past the Old Mission General Store. In the photo, you can picture this road going down to the Swaney Road intersection, and if you turn right, you’ll head towards the Legion Hall and Haserot Beach.

Also, if you look at the far right side of the photo, it looks like it might be water, which would be Old Mission Harbor, and beyond that, Old Mission Resort (the Leffingwell Forest Preserve Association).

And, if you look at the far end of the road on the right, I think that might be the old Grange Hall that still stands to this day (read more about that here; the turkey vultures like this building).

If my theory is correct, I guess I didn’t realize there was a church there at one time. Of course, the Old Mission School has always been there – which would be to the right of this photo (read Tim’s account of breaking in there and ringing the bell when he was a kid). But for some reason, I thought the original log church was located down by the shore (or was that where the store was located?). The log church that’s there now is a replica of the original.

What say you, dear readers? Where do you think this mystery church was located? Can you answer any of my many questions?

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A lifelong resident of the Old Mission Peninsula, Jane grew up on a cherry farm (Johnson Farms), married the boy next door (Tim Boursaw), and raised two kids there (Will and Marissa). Her 35-year career as a photojournalist includes bylines with the New York Times and Ladies' Home Journal, and interviews with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. But she loves writing about the OMP most of all.

15 COMMENTS

  1. I agree Jane about being just north of the old ladies store, if you look at the water you can see a pier, there was a pier in old mission around that time. Great photo

  2. I agree and yes I do believe the log building was originally near the water at the end of the road. Then I wonder what became of the stone foundation of the church. Did the church burn down and the stone foundation used for another building?

  3. According to Ruth Craker’s book, the log church was originally down by the beach but was moved from its original location “up to front the street” prior to 1903, and at some unknown date it was either torn down or burned. The replica log church was dedicated in 1939. But of course that does not solve the mystery of this church in the photo. It’s hard to comprehend where all those foundation stones could have gone to.

    • Well, there it is, right on the Gazette in my dad’s story! Thanks, Mark. Ok, so it sounds like the original log church was on the shore, like you and Mary Jo mentioned. And that log church was moved up to the road prior to 1903. And sometime between 1903 and when the replica was dedicated in 1939, the original log church was either torn down or burned down.

      So my next question is, when was the church in the photo built, and what happened to it? In my dad’s story, there’s a car on the postcard, although if it’s a Peck postcard, he often added things to the images. Still, if the car was actually there, I’m guessing that church was there after the turn of the century?

      • According to your dad’s story (based on the caption under the picture of the Old Mission School) the school was dedicated in 1939. So the photo of the church in this post must be prior to 1939. The Peck postcard shows that same elm tree by the road, only from the north. Lots of telephone poles in both shots. So it is not ancient. It is hard to imagine how this church would have disappeared without trace or memory in less than 80 years. I hope somebody can figure this out.

  4. The ME does stand for the Methodist Episcopal Church which was the largest Methodist denomination. On the 1908 plat map the ME church is located exactly where the Replica Log Church is located now. Behind it (East) the map shows the ME parsonage. The Congregational church parsonage is located across Mission Road to the West.

    After religious services were no longer held at the ME church it remained empty and was torn down for lumber sometime in the 1920’s
    I would include a PDF of the map, however I don’t know how to attach it to my comment!

  5. I have several postcard photos of the Methodist Episcopal church in Old Mission. One long view shows it located south of the Rushmore house on the opposite side of the road. ( The walkway to the Rushmore/Dougherty house is in the foreground, with the caption “Looking south from the Rushmore – Old Mission”) It also shows a couple of houses / buildings – one very close by the church. What appears to be a barn is also visible off in the distance. I have a note that the church was torn down in 1916, and that it is the original church that was “re-sided”. I have over 300 postcard views of Old Mission.

  6. Additional information about the M.E. Church – It was Peter Dougherty’s Presbyterian church – that was was later used as an M.E. church. Another postcard of that church has the caption ” Missionary Church, 1842, Old Mission, Mich”

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