State Grant Supports Exciting New Straits Cultural Center!
The Michilimackinac Historical Society is thrilled to announce it received a $1 million appropriation from the State of Michigan towards its new, state-of-the-art Straits Cultural Center. The Historical Society engages more than 10,000 visitors each year in the rich, multi-faceted history of this region through intriguing artifacts and one-of-a-kind exhibits. These treasures are currently housed in the Fort de Buade Museum in downtown St. Ignace.
“Our role is to preserve history,” said Historical Society President Bill Peek. “We want future generations to understand and appreciate the significant role the Michilimackinac region has played in the growth of our great state.” The Society’s priceless collection includes more than 3,500 artifacts dating back to the 1600s.
The Straits Cultural Center, located at 20 South State Street, will be the new home for this impressive and irreplaceable collection. The Historical Society has purchased and will be renovating the iconic Walker Building in downtown St. Ignace. The new museum will provide a climate-controlled environment to preserve the collection and significantly expanded exhibits to feature more contemporary and interactive displays. The construction and renovation budget for the Straits Cultural Center came in at $5.3 million. Thanks to support from Senators Wayne Schmidt, Jim Stamas, Peter MacGregor, and Dave Hildenbrand, as well as Representative Lee Chatfield, the Historical Society was able to secure a $1 million appropriation from the State.
“The State’s financial support is a huge win for our community,” continued Peek. “We were able to secure almost 20 percent of our project funding through public dollars. That is a significant show of support for this project, and we know it will help us gain additional fundraising traction as we move forward.” Finding a new home for the Historical Society’s treasures has been a long-held dream on the part of the staff and board.
“We’ve known for a long time that we have something unique and irreplaceable here,” said Executive Director Mary Beth Powers. “Our board and staff are passionate about finding the right home for these artifacts so we can preserve and share them. I’m overjoyed that the state is validating this dream through critical funding.”
A project of this magnitude requires a team of experts. The Historical Society is collaborating with Kennari Consulting of Grand Rapids as its fundraising consultant. The board has engaged WTA Architects of Saginaw and exhibit design firm Split Rock Studios of Minneapolis, Minnesota to work on the building and display plans. Construction is slated to begin at the end of 2019, with a tentative opening in spring 2020. The new museum will be located across from the St. Ignace Municipal Marina, serving as a cultural and economic development centerpiece that will breathe new life into downtown St. Ignace.
“We are so excited to see this development moving forward,” said St. Ignace Mayor Connie Litzner, who also serves on the Historical Society board. “This new museum will provide a compelling reason for visitors to extend their northern Michigan stay by visiting St. Ignace. In a town like ours, where tourism is an essential economic driver, that will have a significant, long-term impact.”
Historical Society Project Manager Rachel Kiurski is spearheading the development of the new museum. “Partnerships like this don’t just happen,” she said. “Four senators, a representative, and countless staff hours were needed to guide this appropriation through a majority vote of both the House and Senate. Their unified endorsement and personal commitment are major reasons why this project received such substantial funding.”