Editorial: A renaissance on Fisher St.

North Wind Staff

You may have heard the spooky stories, you may have felt a chill run down your spine while driving past, or you may have even snuck inside during the night to take a peak. For many, Marquette’s Holy Family Orphanage holds a creepy mystique that history can’t quite prove—the boarded up and decaying hulk having been empty for decades.re-NWLogoSocialMedia

Earlier this year, however, a light appeared at the end of a tunnel that’s been dug more than a few times. A new developer has purchased the structure and plans to launch a multi-million dollar renovation project that will turn it into low-income housing.

It’s happened before, but this time things seem different. The orphanage has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and the Marquette City Commission has approved a payment in lieu of taxes that will allow the developer to apply for low income tax credits.

Built in 1914, the orphanage was built to house the areas parentless children, many of whom were of Native American descent. Later, as Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and many parents feared the new government would put their parental rights in jeopardy.

Between 1960 and 1962, the orphanage received dozens of Cuban children during Operation Peter Pan, some staying until 1966. It was during this time that the orphanage began to decline in operation. It soon became an administrative building, and by 1982 was shuttered permanently. Over the years, rumors of ghosts and hauntings have taken over and obscured the true history of the place.

The renovation of the orphanage is long overdue. It is one of the largest and oldest landmarks in the city of Marquette, but due to neglect has declined in condition such that it was almost unsaveable.

The fact that it will be turned into low-income housing is another plus. True to its form, the structure will welcome those who are disadvantaged in our community—especially when as of late, the local media has reported a shortage of housing in the area.

As more and more brand new luxury condominiums go up on the lakefront, so to will the price of housing. We’re glad the developers took this into account instead of turning the place into a hotel.

Because the orphanage is the first building one usually sees when heading into town, the much needed facelift will be a welcome change to our skyline.