Heritage Manor reopens after fire

HOUGHTON – For the first time since an August fire that gutted Heritage Manor in Houghton, residents were back inside Thursday night, marveling at how far the place had come.

Heritage Manor held an open house Thursday night to show its rebuilding and renovation. Residents begin moving back in at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The work went “down to the studs,” said Sherry Hughes, executive director of the Houghton Housing Commission.

“It was depressing for a while to come here, because there was so much to rebuild … suddenly a light switch went off, and you could see the finish line coming,” she said.

The remodel included the installation of a sprinkler system, which was not mandatory when Heritage Manor was built in 1976. The layout of the bottom floor was changed slightly to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Offices are in a new location, while the kitchen was moved to the community room, where crowds of residents talked, had refreshments and looked at the new artwork.

Resident Yvonne Lencioni said she couldn’t have asked for better.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Lencioni, who’s been living at Lakeview Manor in Hancock. “Everything’s brand new, and it smells new, yet,” she said. “They’re doing a nice job.”

Some work still has to be finished. The lower parking deck has yet to open, and there is still cleanup work to be done outside. But with residents coming back in, it’s closer to returning to normal.

“It’ll be nice to come into work on Monday and have people living in the building again,” Hughes said.

Both the resident of the most damaged apartment and one who was carried down on a ladder will be back in their original apartments. Hughes said she asked them if they wanted to move to a different part of the building, but both wanted to stay where they were.

Marge Griffor, whose apartment was hardest-hit, was showing the rebuilt apartment to her daughter, Crystal Baker of Chassell. A gift basket saying “Welcome home! We are glad you’re here!” sat on a spotless counter.

Griffor stayed with Baker for a while before moving to the Douglass House in Houghton, She’s thrilled to be moving back in.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “I feel like a giddy little kid.”