PM Township board to consider memorial association’s letter of intent.

April 23, 2018

Photo by Todd Reed, used with permission.

PM Township board to consider memorial association’s letter of intent.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

PERE MARQUETTE CHARTER TOWNSHIP — When it meets Tuesday evening, the township board of trustees will consider a letter of intent from the Pere Marquette Memorial Association to transfer ownership of the Father Marquette Memorial site to the association.

During the board’s February meeting, Ludington attorney Carlos Alvarado presented a proposal by the memorial association said the group will assume the costs of repairs to the memorial, currently assessed at around $80,000. Similarly, the non-profit group would agree to show proof of having, at the time of closing, financial assets earmarked to bear the cost of maintenance of the site in an amount no less than $20,000, secured at the Community Foundation for Mason County.

The township board agreed at that time to seek an appraisal of the parcel, which recently came in at a market value of $800.

“Market value is defined as the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus,” appraiser Andrew Sill of Northern Michigan Real Estate Consultants of Traverse City wrote to the trustees.

The Pere Marquette Memorial Association was originally entrusted with the site in the 1930s by the Butters family, who settled the property. The peninsula has traditionally been known as the Buttersville Peninsula. The PMMA has offered to purchase the one parcel of land that the memorial sits on, which would make it private property. The purchase would follow the restrictions set forth in the deed by the Marshall F. Butters estate in 1937. The parcel of land where the boat launch sits will remain owned and managed by the Township.

“Many local organizations, businesses, churches of several denominations, and private individuals (both local and from out of the area) have pledged their financial support to a fundraising campaign, which provides assurances that the goals stated in this offer will be easily met before the date of closing,” Alvarado said at the February meeting. “Through the transfer of the site to the Pere Marquette Memorial Association, the people of Mason County, and the supporters of this offer from around the state of Michigan and beyond, will be assured the site will remain part of the heritage of our region. We are fortunate to be able to model this respect for our past for future generations by honoring the wishes of the grantor of the land, the Marshall F. Butters estate, and hard work of the people and organizations who pulled together to build the memorial.”

The site has been a topic of controversy lately because of a Muskegon based atheist who has threatened to sue the township over ownership of a site that has a religious symbol on it. Many in the public have argued that the site should be allowed because it is a historical site, dedicated to Father (Pere in French) Jacques Marquette, a French missionary and explorer who died near what is now Ludington, on the Buttersville Peninsula, in the 1670s, rather than a religious symbol.

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The current memorial was built in the 1950s, though many local historians agree that a memorial to Marquette existed on the site for several decades prior.

Historical note:

In 1673, Marquette and French-Candadian explorer Louis Jolliet, left St. Ignace and followed Lake Michigan to Green Bay, up the Fox River to its headwaters. They eventually entered the Mississippi River and traveled within 435 miles of the Gulf of Mexico, turning back at the mouth of the Arkansas River. They followed the Mississippi back to the Illinois River and reached what is now Chicago. In the spring of 1675 Marquette began his journey back to St. Ignace on the east side of Lake Michigan. He died of dysentery, at the age of 37, on what is now known as the Buttersville Peninsula south of modern Ludington. He was buried on the site but his remains were eventually moved to St. Ignace.

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