History of our Church
Central's residents were justly proud of its church. Long before a church was built, as early as 1856, worship services were being conducted in the schoolhouse on the east side of town. Those first services were conducted by the Reverend David A. Curtis who was attached to the Portage Lake Missions.
Construction of a church was begun in 1868, and when it was occupied the following year it became the major focal point of religious and social life in the community for all who were members of it and for many who were not. It became a community center in the true sense of the word and offered many services to the townspeople such as planning the Fourth of July picnic for everyone, maintaining a circulating library and sponsoring programs at the school hall which were open to the public. Prior to the building of the new school on top of the bluff, the Central church provided space for public school classes to be held to accommodate the overflow from the original schoolhouse.
It was inevitable that there should be a close feeling among the former residents of Central, who were forced to relocated in other parts of the Copper Country following the closing of the mine in 1898. The opening of the Keweenaw Central Railroad in January, 1907, provided an opportunity for the old-timers to have a "homecoming." Alfred Nicholls is credited with having conceived the idea, and he enlisted the aid of Edward J. Hall and Thomas E. Mitchell. After it had been determined that there was sufficient interest, plans were laid by these three old Centralites, and the first reunion was held on July 21, 1907, with both a morning and an evening service. However, after the second year, the evening service was discontinued in order to enable those in attendance to enjoy meeting and reminiscing with their former neighbors and friends and still board the early train for home.
The former home of Mrs. Jane Bryant, the milliner and candy store proprietor, standing just east of the church was used to heat a wash boiler of water so that those attending the "homecoming" could make tea to go with their pasties, saffron cake and perhaps seedy buns or heavy cake, all popular Cornish fare.
In those early years, close to 200 worshipers would crowd inside the church and others would line the hillside across the road, where they would strain to hear the singing and the message for the day. On several occasions, Mrs Oscar Bruns, a one-time music supervisor for the Calumet Public Schools and later the director of the choir that sang in the Hollywood Bowl for the sunrise Easter service, rendered solos, and frequently the organ would be carried to the porch after the service so that she could sing to those who had not been able to get inside. As time has thinned the ranks of the old-timers, a new dimension has been added to the idea of "homecoming" - the reunion also serves as a tribute to the memory of the hardy pioneers of all faiths from all the early copper mining settlements that once dotted Keweenaw County. Central is the last to have its church intact and used once each year, so it is fitting that the Central reunion should remember all those who labored and died here in those days long ago.