Marquette’s Citadel – History of the Church of Christ Scientist
Marquette’s Citadel has stirred up a lot of controversy lately over plans to construct a six story addition to the building. Residents are opposed to the structure because it will block views of Lake Superior and will be out of place with the historical tone of Ridge Street. For more on the controversy, visit http://www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/547372/Eastside–project-proposed.html. As of today the project is still on hold.
The Citadel is a historic and beautiful part of Marquette’s story. The following history is taken from my book My Marquette:
Marquette’s First Church of Christ, Scientist (Marquette Citadel)
The Christian Science community in Marquette was never large, but several of Marquette’s prominent families were members. The church’s history in Marquette is largely tied to the Longyear family.
In 1884, the Longyears lost their infant son, John. Mary Longyear was devastated and after seven years of grieving, she turned to Christian Science and found comfort. Her husband, John M. Longyear, remained skeptical of the religion until, as he recorded in his memoirs, he consented to a Christian Science treatment for his bad rheumatism which resulted in his being successfully cured.
Although the Longyears would leave Marquette in 1903, Mrs. Longyear would inspire several other residents to believe in Christian Science, and the Longyears would sell a portion of their property to Charles Schaffer, whose new home would be the meeting place for Marquette’s Christian Scientists for many years, starting in 1908. In 1912, the Christian Science congregation began to make plans to build a church and raise funds, but when World War I broke out in 1914, all building was prohibited in the United States. By the time the war was over, the cost of the elaborate structure intended was more than the congregation could afford. After many more years trying to raise money, the congregation consented to a smaller building, which nevertheless would be impressive.
The neo-Greek revival church was constructed in 1925 of gray brick with limestone trim. The main floor auditorium seated 250 people, while downstairs was a Christian Science reading room and the Sunday school. For nearly eighty years, the building would be the congregation’s home, but membership dwindled as time went on, and in 2004, the congregation felt the need to sell the church.
Today, the building is known as the “Marquette Citadel” and it functions as a bed and breakfast as well as a place for various functions including wedding receptions and corporate events. The auditorium has been converted into an elegant Victorian style ball room and the downstairs serves as a bed and breakfast with tastefully furnished rooms. While the building no longer serves its original purpose, it has become an elegant place where Mary Beecher Longyear would have felt most comfortable.
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