Preserving a historic building

HANCOCK – Renovation of a historic house in Hancock has been going on for about 3 years, slower than the new owners would like.

Lisa McKenzie, secretary for the Celtic Quarter, said the most recent work involves wiring, insulating and putting up a moisture barrier in one of the first -floor rooms, which will be the Celtic Quarter office and meeting room.

The organization acquired the former Pewabic House at 222 Hancock St. in fall 2010. Renovation work has been happening gradually since then. In the middle 19th century, the building was the family house of Mary Chase Perry Stratton, who developed a style of pottery called Pewabic, which is still used. The Celtic Quarter acquired it from the city of Hancock. The city council wanted to make certain the historic structure was preserved, partly because it survived the fire of 1869, which destroyed much of the town.

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.”

Currently, McKenzie said there are 14 members of the Celtic Quarter, which means work on the house is going slow.

“We don’t have a big crew,” she said.

The walls of the first floor have been gutted to the studs, and McKenzie said work has been done to make the building energy efficient.

“All the windows are new,” she said.

Although Hancock has no historic district, which would require owners of buildings to maintain historic features. McKenzie said the renovation of the Pewabic House will be done as historically as possible.

Brian Bixley, CQ vice president, said a new boiler has been secured for the building, and it will be installed after the foundation in the building is strengthened.

Now that the room on the first floor has been rewired and insulated, Bixley said drywall will soon be put up.

McKenzie said after acquiring the building, the Celtic Quarter received a grant from Hancock to do renovation work. However, much of the funding for the project comes from donations and fundraising events, such as the organization’s Robert Burns dinner – which is set for Feb. 8 although a location hasn’t been chosen, yet – and their Copper Hammer Highland Games.

“All our fundraising has gone (into the house),” she said.

McKenzie said Celtic Quarter members had intended for the building to be open already.

“We had big hopes,” she said.

When finished, McKenzie said the building will be the CQ headquarters as well as a museum, genealogy center and meeting space. There will be rooms on the second floor for out-of-town visitors attending CQ events.

To volunteer to work on the Celtic Quarter house, or to donate, go to the organizations’ website at