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Celtic House restoration under way in Hancock

July 29, 2012
By Kurt Hauglie - Staff Writer , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - It takes a lot of work and money to revitalize an old building, but members of the Celtic Quarter are determined to provide both to create a new organization headquarters in Hancock.

Val Juntunen, Celtic Quarter board president, said the organization acquired the former Pewabic House at 222 Hancock St. in the fall of 2010.

According to the group's website,, the organization formed in 2009 as "a non-profit social group dedicated to preserving celtic heritage in the Copper Country."

Renovation work has been guided by Brian Bixley, chairman of the Celtic Quarter executive board, who said with the first floor gutted to the studs, now the electrical, insulation and drywall work can get under way.

Lisa McKenzie, Celtic Quarter interim treasurer, said 27 windows were recently replaced on the house with local financial help.

"We got a facade grant from the (Hancock Downtown Development Authority)," she said. "We try to keep it historic."

Juntunen said the group will work to maintain some of the historic aspects on the interior, as well.

"We kept all the trim," she said.

There was a mold issue on the interior that had to be dealt with, also, Juntunen said.

"It was a health hazard," she said.

Bixley said a new boiler has been placed in the basement of the house, but it hasn't been installed yet.

The first floor demolition alone produced a large amount of debris, Bixley said.

"We took 7,000 pounds of plaster to the transfer station," he said.

Bixley said the intention of the group is to make the first floor a museum and genealogy center. There will also be a meeting room. The second floor will have rooms for out-of-town guests or performers as well as office space.

Juntunen said it's unlikely the first floor interior work will be completed before winter.

"We have limited funds," she said. "We're doing fundraisers as we're doing the renovations."

One of those fundraisers is the Celtic Festival and Copper Hammer Highland Games set for Sept. 15 at the Houghton County Fairgrounds in Hancock.

Juntunen said this will be the third year for the Highland Games, and this time around women and children will compete.

"Most of them are local athletes this year," she said.

Another fundraising event the organization conducts is the Robert Burns dinner that takes place in January, McKenzie said.

Juntunen said Celtic Quarter members are looking for other sources of funding to complete the renovations of the house.

"We're going to apply for more grants after the Celtic Festival," she said.

Bixley said the group will also conduct a rummage sale to help raise funds, but Juntunen said a date for that hasn't been set, yet.

"Right now our main thrust is to get people involved with the Celtic Festival," she said.

Juntunen said the group is looking for volunteer help to work on the house, and they need not be of Celtic ancestry.

"We'll take anyone who wants to show up and help us," she said.

For more information about helping at the house of the Celtic Festival and Highland Games call Bixley at 338-2402, Juntunen at 395-6808 or McKenzie at 370-3453.



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