TRAVERSE CITY — Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Cedar has an impressive history.
The ancestors of current parishioners built the church’s first structure more than 130 years ago. A school was constructed in the 1890s, and in 1920 parishioners spent their summer hauling stones from their farms to help construct the Leelanau County church that’s still used for worship.
Preserving that history was integral in a three-year renovation of the church set to wrap by month’s end. Families have attended Holy Rosary for generations, and they wanted to stay true to their roots.
“These people went to great lengths at great sacrifice to build this beautiful church, so we felt that when we did the renovations we had to honor their sacrifice and do a job that honors what they did,” parishioner and capital campaign president Brian Ursu said.
Renovation talk started about four years ago when a church member noticed large cracks in the ceiling in one corner. There turned out to be significant water damage caused by a leak in the roof that was original to the 1920s structure.
“We realized this wasn’t something we could just pass the hat for, so we started a capital campaign,” the Rev. Donald Libby said.
Consultants told the church’s campaign committee it would take about $460,000 to replace the roof and ensure the building is structurally sound, as well as give the church an overall face lift.
That was a lot of money to raise, especially in a small community, but they made it happen.
“Everyone’s just stepping forward and helping out. They want to save the church,” parishioner Joan Garvin said. “It’s the most beautiful church there is.”
The new roof and plaster went up, the bathroom remodeled, the pews sanded and stained and wood flooring restored. The church’s 13 stained glass windows, originally fired in Germany, were carefully cleaned. Smaller projects popped up along the way, and donations continued to flow in and make the work possible.