Officials with the Saints of Mary and Joseph Church Make Final Stretch to Completing Years Long Project

Northland Uncovered: Historic log church in Sawyer is close to being completely renovated.

SAWYER, Minn.- A historic log church in Sawyer is close to being completely renovated.

“Most of the people that use to go to this church love this slamming of the…church door. They love the screen door. That’s what they remembered about this church, the screen door,” said deacon Bryan Bassa.

Through that door, 134 years of history- memories from the Saints of Mary and Joseph Church.

The original log structure was built in 1884 but was left for ruins in the 1960s after a new building was constructed next door.

8 years ago, deacon Bryan Bassa felt it was his calling to restore the church. There were plans to tear the structure down, but after reviving a $128 thousand grant in 2016 and other outside donations, the Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps began making repairs.

“More people got involved, father got involved,the bishop got involved and then we got to work and did the work we have done today,” Bassa said.

It wasn’t long before the church became a community effort. Now it has everything from a new foundation, doors and windows and an entirely new bell tower.

“The outside is done, but the inside we have a lot more to do,” Bassa said.

But after years of work, there is still a final stretch of repairs to make on the inside.

Deacon Bryan says they’re trying to keep as close to the original blueprints of the church as possible, restoring it’s altar, the oldest wooden altar in the diocese of Duluth.

“It gives me tears to my eyes to see all this stuff coming to fruition. It’s just great. I didn’t think this could ever… Well I prayed, but I didn’t think that we could ever do it,” Bassa said.

There is still about $100 thousand of work to be done on the inside of the church including putting in a heating system and insulating the walls, something Deacon Bryan is hopeful will be done by fall of 2019.

To make donations to the Saints of Mary and Joseph Church, click here.

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