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Old St. Joseph Orphanage and School

Old St. Joseph Orphanage and School in Assinins near Baraga in the Upper Peninsula was primarily an orphanage built on the Assinins complex in the Upper Peninsula, built by Bishop Frederic Baraga in 1860. Assinins is located about five hundred acres north of the town of Baraga, near Keweenaw Bay. The name Assinins or “Little Rock” came from the first Ojibwe Chief Baraga, who had been baptized there. Although an orphanage, the core mission was “white assimilation and religious conversion.” (Stebbins, 2021, para. 26) of Ojibwe and immigrant children, which at its peak had 950 children.


By the 1950s, Old St. Joseph became a friary; in the 1960s, it was used as a tribal center for the local Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. By the 2000s, the orphanage was demolished and its remains hidden from view, but there exists a shrine to Bishop Frederic Baraga in the area to this day listed as a historical site (Stebbins, 2021, paras. 28-29).