Historic Log Church in Sawyer Reopens After 55 Years

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 08, 2019 10:59 PM

After 55 years the doors finally reopened at the historic log church in Sawyer Sunday after going through a major restoration project.


Hundreds of community members were part of the special mass that celebrated the reopening of the church.

“Wow, it was out of this world. It was just great, I’m just so happy because this was a long project,” said Deacon Bryan Bassa.

The Church in the Woods originally built in 1884 has a rich history. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the Cloquet area and survived the Cloquet fire from 1918. It’s a special place for many in the community.

“I was baptized in this log church and had my first communion. My class was the first to have a confirmation,” said Barb Omar, a longtime log church member, said.

“We went to the log church in the 1950s and 1960s and it meant so much. It’s such an intimate setting,” said Del Prevost, a longtime log church member.

Over the years, the church suffered wear and tear. The last time a mass was hosted was in 1964.

The restoration included putting a new foundation, roof, chimney, windows, and more.

“Doing this church, it took us eight years to do the renovation. It was at the point of falling down. Barb and myself and five others took on a daunting task of trying to restore it,” said Prevost.

An almost $400,000 restoration project was done thanks to grants and fundraising efforts from the community.

"It means a lot to them because now we can have baptisms, funerals, weddings, and mass here,” said Bassa.

Another special celebration took place right next to the log church, the opening of a time capsule from 1967 at the St. Mary and Joseph’s Church.

The Heine family had a big role in building the St. Mary and Joseph’s Church in the late 1960s.

“My dad built the church with his brother Lawrence. His brother did the brick work and my dad was the general contractor. I was baptized in the basement of the church,” said Michael Heine, a church attendee from Florida.

Michael Heine was three-years-old when he left Sawyer and moved to Florida. His dad and uncle have passed away since, and he learned about a time capsule they left at the church through his mom. He made the special trip to Sawyer to see the capsule.

The Heine family waited for the reopening of the log church to finally open the capsule. Many of them live out of state now, and flew into town this weekend for the special occasion.

"We're just excited to see what’s in there. None of us know what’s in there. I was the youngest I didn't know,” said Heine.

In the capsule, they found a dollar, coins, letters, a rosary, and more special items that took them back to that time.

After many years, a new chapter lies ahead for the log church.

“I’m very proud to be a part of it and hope the future will use the building and enjoy it as much as we have,” said Omar.


Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


Inside look at 148th Fighter Wing's night flying

DECC's COVID-19 saliva testing site prepares to open

Free meals available for Duluth students

Search for Sheila St. Clair continues five years later

Cass Lake man pleads guilty in child's death

Restaurants switching to indoor dining with fall season ahead