Avery Arts and Nature Learning Center
Considered by many to be the most beautiful building in the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan, and probably one of the most beautiful old school houses of its kind remaining in the entire country, the Hessel School House has been returned to serving its unique heritage.
Located in the quaint village of Hessel in the Les Cheneaux Islands, which historically represent the deep history of this very special part of the world, it was a two-classroom facility for kindergarten through fifth grades. It served the native Chippewa Indians and descendants of the immigrant families that had settled there beginning in the 1850s.
Part of the uniqueness of the community is that those same families remain today, many being represented on the Hessel School House Board of Directors. Also, the deep connection that exists between the locals and a large, multi-generation of summer residents now sustains their shared vision of protecting a critical historic landmark and, at the same time, expanding its original purpose to embrace education in native culture, the arts, and nature.
The Eastern Upper Peninsula encompasses the historic towns of St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie, respectively the first and second oldest cities of Michigan, and the convergence of Lakes Superior and Huron, via the St. Mary’s River. Its southern shoreline is dotted by the archipelago of the beautiful 36 Les Cheneaux Islands, and gated by Mackinac Island to the west and Drummond Island to the east. They are what drew the fur traders, couriers de bois, and missionaries of the 1600s, and remain today as prime jewels of the Great Lakes.
The Hessel School House and its Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center, are testimonials to this extraordinary, multi-faceted part of the world.