Park Seeks Public Involvement
Contact: Tom Baker, Management Assistant, (906) 337-1104, ext.131
(Calumet, MI) The National Park Service at Keweenaw National Historical Park is seeking public involvement for the Union Building Interior Rehabilitation project. In accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, the NPS will be completing an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project. The EA will examine the various alternatives for treatment of the historic structure as well as the exhibits that will be placed in the building.
The Union Building was built in 1889 through a collaborative effort of the Free and Accepted Masons (F. & A.M.) and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), hence the "Union Building," on land provided by the C&H Mining Company at the head of Fifth Street in downtown Calumet. While there were many commercial enterprises on the street level over the years, the upper floors were used for fraternal and benevolent organizations’ meetings for more than seventy years.
When the project is completed, targeted for 2011/2012 depending on funding, it will be the park’s first NPS-operated visitor facility and will include an information station to orient visitors to the park and the Keweenaw Heritage Sites, as well as interpretive exhibits that will characterize "Life in a Mining Town" from the human perspective. According to park superintendent Jim Corless, "The NPS is looking forward to welcoming residents and visitors alike in our 'new' facility," adding that "should funding become available, we hope to have the Union Building open year-round."
Proposed alterations to the historic structure include the installation of an elevator to provide universal accessibility and restroom facilities that comply with current building code guidelines. These alterations will require the removal of historic fabric in the building. The challenge is to minimize the impact to the historic character of the structure.
The NPS has already conducted several local focus groups for the development of exhibits in the building and the exhibit design contractor, the Office of Krister Olmon, Inc., has developed preliminary concepts. In Value Analysis workshops, which included subject matter experts from the NPS, the contractors, and community members, a preliminary preferred alternative was developed. A document resulting from the workshop is posted on the Union Building Project web page, part of the park’s website. There is an email link on the the Union Building project page for the public to submit comments. The public can review the document to get an idea of the concepts being considered.
Comments may also be submitted through the postal system to Keweenaw NHP, ATTN: Tom Baker, 25970 Red Jacket Road, Calumet, MI 49913.
As the Environmental Assessment progresses, there will be other specific opportunities for the public to provide input, comments, and feedback, although comments may be submitted at any time. The earlier the NPS receives comments, the greater the chance that those comments will be able to affect the outcomes.
Did You Know?
Despite ups and downs in copper production and prices, the Quincy Mining Company on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula was able to pay its investors dividends nearly every year from 1862 to 1920, earning it the nickname "Old Reliable." The company closed in 1945, but continued to operate the smelter until 1971.