There is little information available about the original native residents of Chippewa, a town that used to stand just east of Grand Marais. All that is left to hint at what life was like back when the town was alive is letters and photographs taken by European Settlers that made observations of the area. Only one building, that now serves as a stark reminder of what was once there, remains: the St. Francis Xavier Church.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this church was built under the direction of Father Specht in 1895 on land donated by Antoine and Antoinette Fillison. The community raised money by hand weaving baskets, filing them with baked goods, and selling them to fellow community members. Often times, lumberjacks were high bidders!
The church served as the only Catholic Church in Grand Marais from 1895-1916, until the opening of St. Johns. As the population of Chippewa City began to fall, so did the attendance and use of the church. It held its final mass at Christmas in 1936. To this day, the church stands tall and is the only physical remnant of what used to be such a vibrant community. To visit, call the museum and ask for opportunities at 218-387-2883.
To get there: One half mile North of Grand Marais, look for the brown historical marker. Just outside of town you’ll see an old white church on your right.
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