Man wants to turn orphanage into facility for homeless vets

MARQUETTE – A Gwinn man wants to turn the abandoned Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette into a transitional facility for homeless veterans.

Larry Stille is eyeing the former orphanage, located at Altamont and Fisher streets, for a place to house 68 to 70 residents. He said his original idea was to turn it into low-income housing. However, Stille said he spoke with Veterans Administrations staff in Iron Mountain, who suggested the building be turned into a place for homeless vets.

That struck a chord with Stille.

“That sounds like a pretty good idea, because I’m a vet myself,” said Stille, who served in the Navy from 1981 to 1985. “I used to be homeless.”

Stille said the orphanage is owned by Meranto Living Trust in Las Vegas. Although he has been told the dilapidated building has no monetary value, it has been estimated it would cost between $5 million and $10 million to renovate it into a veterans home, he said.

For instance, Stille said the roof would need to be replaced and the entire building gutted, essentially starting from scratch.

According to city documents, the structure was built in 1915 and has been vacant since 1981. The building has been found to have asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint and mold.