Calumet Visitor Center Project
NPS Photo / Dan Johnson
In 1999, the National Park Service purchased the Union Building with the long-range goal of making it a visitor facility. Keweenaw National Historical Park completed the first phase of the building's rehabilitation by stabilizing and restoring its exterior in 2005. In 2008, the park received an initial allocation of funding to plan the interior rehabilitation.
In 2010, the park received funding to begin the interior rehabilitation construction work and fabrication of the visitor center exhibits. Work on the building started in June 2010. If the construction and exhibit fabrication phase proceeds smoothly, this historic building is projected to reopen its doors to the public in late 2011. The Union Building will then be a place for visitors to reflect on the connection between mining companies, communities and people, as well as the role of Keweenaw copper mining in our heritage.
This page provides links to background information for the Union Building project. Announcements of project updates, public meetings or other events associated with the project will be posted on this page as they become available. Check back often.
NPS Photo/Cynthia Coffelt, Harpers Ferry Center
Exhibit Installation Progress
The exhibit installation is entering its final stages this week and next. Audio video programs are being installed and tested while final adjustments and tweeks are taking place with the larger exhibit pieces. Park staff will be moving furniture and information desk materials to the site as they set up the new information desk and prepare it for the public. The Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association will also be setting up their new sales are, complete with new sales items that complement the interpretive exhibits throughout the building. Lastly, fiber optic connections are being installed for the operation of phones and internet. There is an excitement in the air as details get finalized and the visitor center is made ready for its first public viewing on Thursday, October 27, 2011!
NPS photo/ Ron Jones
Interpretive Exhibit and Artifact Progress
Fabrication of the interpretive exhibits is underway. Color-Ad (the exhibit firm constructing the exhibits) was at the park two weeks ago measuring every outlet, wall, doorway, and confirming that all exhibits will fit within the designated spaces. Back at their shop in Manassas, VA, fabricators are building the interpretive panels, cases, and furniture that were designed by the Office of Krister Olman Inc. Installation of the new exhibits will begin in September and continue for three weeks. Lighting and audio-visual components will then be added, adjusted, and tweeked to work in tandem with the exhibits.
Conservation of the museum objects that will be on display is also underway. Great care is being taken to preserve and make ready over 400 artifacts and objects that will help interpret the copper mining story being told in the Calumet Visitor Center. Metal objects are being cleaned of rust, clothing pieces are being mounted to forms, and paper documents are being preserved. Many of the objects going on display were donated by local residents specifically for this exhibit, helping to enrich the interpretive experience that will take place.
The interior construction of the Calumet Visitor Center is in the final stages of completion. As the construction company removed the work trailers on Wednesday, June 9, a small crew remained to finalize details like touch-up painting, electrical work, and cleaning. Over the past year, skilled craftsmen and laborers, have diligently worked through three floors and a basement to prepare the building for the installation of interpretive exhibits. Hundreds of new details, finishes, and features were completed and installed.
NPS Photo/Tom Baker
The first floor will contain two interpretive exhibit areas with a third space available for small temporary or traveling exhibits. The room pictured here faces 5th Street and includes large storefront windows looking into the space. Interior construction work included; refurnished wood floors, installation of new and period light fixtures, addition of security and fire alarm systems, and new paint. Interpretive exhibits will be installed throughout the room that introduce visitors to the more detailed exhibits upstairs.
NPS Photo/Tom Baker
The second floor of the Union Building was formerly used as a meeting hall for the Odd Fellows and other fraternal organizations. Containing many craftsman inspired details, the room is a large inviting space with windows overlooking downtown Calumet. During the interior work, this space received new track lighting, window shades, refinished floors and trim, upgraded electrical, added fire and security systems, and new paint. The wire conduit on the floor identifies the placement of the new exhibits that will be installed in September.
NPS Photo, Dan Johnson
A new opening in what is known as the Director's Office on the first floor provides access to the elevator and an interior stairway. In this photo, the stairs have been completed and are awaiting finishing. The elevator shaft has been installed and also awaits finishing and the installation of the elevator cab and equipment.
The installation of all the metal work and decking for the new interior stairway has been completed. Next, the stairwell walls and treads will be finished. The new stairway was installed to meet building code requirements for fire safety, as well as improve visitor flow through the building. Prior to the installation of this stairway, you would have to walk outside from the first floor to access stairs to the second and third floors.
NPS photo, Dan Johnson
Plaster and drywall work has been completed on third floor. Paint colors have also been applied to the walls and the woodwork has been stained. New historic-style light fixtures were also installed. The floor will soon be refinished.
NPS Photo, Dan Johnson
The robing room closets located on the second floor have been repaired, stripped, and stained. These closets will be utilized by the exhibits. Two of the closets will feature exhibit cases that will contain original fraternal organization garments. There will also be two flat screen monitors with with an audio visual piece featuring Professor Will Moore on the role these organizations played in the Calumet community and American society as a whole.
As part of another project, the park received a shipment of wayfinding and facility identification signs. One of these was for the new Calumet Visitor Center.
Did You Know?
Woody Guthrie's song "1913 Massacre" brought attention to a tragedy that occurred in Calumet, Michigan on December 24, 1913 during a bitter copper miner's strike. Reports claim that a shout of fire caused panic at a party at the Italian Hall. 74 people died in the stampede down the steep stairway.