Sacred Heart Catholic parish has been a fixture of the Mount Pleasant, Michigan community for generations. You may not know that it began as St. Charles parish. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, a priest would come from a neighboring town like Saginaw, and several families celebrated mass held at various homes. About 1872 they decided to build a church. After obtaining the land and raising the money, construction started on January 25, 1875. The church was a wooden structure that measured 38 by 60 feet and was 24 feet high.1
My great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary Ann (Yuncker) Voisin were married in this church on February 16, 1885. This was a few years after the church was completed about 1877. They were married by the first resident priest of the parish, Reverend James J. McCarthy. (Although Joe and Mary lived near Beal City, a church there would not be built until 1892.)
A bird’s eye view of Mount Pleasant, published in 1884 depicts the St. Charles Catholic Church. It was located on the west side of town, where Wisconsin Street meets Oak Street. (See detail inset, upper right.)
By February 1887, the 1,000 members3 of the parish decided to build a brick church. They purchased the land where Sacred Heart Academy and the parish center stands today, at the corner of South Franklin and East Illinois streets. The old church was then physically moved to the site. It sat at the corner of South Lansing and East Michigan streets. Once construction of the new church was far enough along in 1889, mass was held in its basement area and the old church was converted to a school. 1889 was also the year the parish changed its name from St. Charles to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
A rectory was eventually built next to the church, and a convent across from the church on East Illinois. This view, taken about 1906, shows the new church, the rectory, and the old church in the background, which was then the school. It appears the steeple had been removed, probably when the building was moved.
Sacred Heart Academy was built behind the church in 19085 and at some point the old school/church was demolished. An addition to the Academy was built in 1955 where the old school/church once stood. Then an elementary school was built in 1964 at the corner of East Michigan and South Franklin streets.
Eventually a new, third church was built between South Kinney Avenue and South Fancher Street, facing East Wisconsin Street. This was where the Union School once stood, the large building shown upper middle left in the bird’s eye view above and also one of the highlighted buildings shown above the “t” in “Mt. Pleasant.” This current church was completed by 1968. In fact the first mass there was said in memory of my grandmother, Emma (Rademacher) Voisin. The second church was struck by lightening in the late 1970s and was later demolished. A gymnasium was built where it once stood.
From family homes, to St. Charles, to Sacred Heart, this parish history is as old as Mount Pleasant itself.Footnotes
- Isaac A. Fancher, “Past and Present of Isabella County Michigan” (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen and Company, 1911), pages 237-239.
- O.H. Bailey & Co. “Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.” Map. Boston: O.H. Bailey & Co. Pub., 1884. Digital Commonwealth, http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/x633fd44v (accessed April 30, 2017).
- Lewis M. Miller, Secretary of the Senate, “Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan 1887,” Volume I (Lansing: Thorp and Godfrey, Sate Printers and Binders, 1887), page 401.
- R. A. Miller and Chas. J. Seely, “Faces and Places Familiar, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.,” (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan: Courier Press, 1906), “Sacred Heart Church and School,” page 39.
- The Michigan Historical Marker Web Site, “Sacred Heart Academy,” Site L1657, 316 East Michigan, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, 1990, (http://www.michmarkers.com/default.asp : 1 May 2017).