PM Township board to sell Father Marquette Memorial to local group. 

April 24, 2018

Photo by Todd Reed, used with permission.

PM Township board to sell Father Marquette Memorial to local group. 


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

PERE MARQUETTE CHARTER TOWNSHIP — The township board approved the sale of the Father Marquette Memorial to the the Pere Marquette Memorial Association during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, April 24 for the price of $800.

During the board’s February meeting, Ludington attorney Carlos Alvarado presented a proposal by the memorial association. He 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 also received an offer of $2,000 from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin. The foundation’s proposal did not address the maintenance and repairs of the memorial.

Board members agreed that the local offer was a better deal. Alvarado said though the offer was for $800, the association will have over $100,000 to show that it will continue to maintain the heritage and upkeep of the memorial.

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.

See related article.   

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.

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.


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