windows into the past
Have you wondered how the antiques and historical artifacts magically appear in the historical store fronts along 5th Street Calumet?
The store fronts are the ambitious projects of Lorri Oikarinen and Shelly Hahn, two merchants of downtown Calumet. Lorri and her husband Rick own Cross Country Sports, and Shelly and Peter Hahn are the creators of Hahn Hammered Copper. For several years they've been giving their time and creativity making the downtown unique, an important part of why Calumet is an interesting place to visit.
Lorri explains, “Shelly and I feel it really makes a difference to visitors and locals alike when the downtown has engaging window displays. We have seen so many visitors and locals stop and look in the windows on a Sunday or other times when shops are closed. It also celebrates the arts, history and architecture that is so much a part of our downtown.
“Windows Into the Past (created in 2013) was a collaborative effort between the Main Street Calumet Design Committee, the Keweenaw National Historic Park, and students at Calumet High School in conjunction with the centennial of the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster.
“We wanted to show what the downtown looked like during that time period, and so enlisted willing shop owners to have their buildings researched by high school students under the direction of KNHP Archivist Jeremiah Mason.
“The result was a poster with historical photos of their building and their history, especially highlighting what was happening in their building in 1913. The posters were printed by Marc Norton at Copper Island Printing, and mounted and laminated by Paul Grathoff of North End Framing. The intent was that they would be durable and could continue to be displayed in the windows even after the centennial. The merchants paid for the posters. Many of the shop owners created their own historic displays for the centennial as well.
“It turned out to be a great success, and many of the posters remain in windows today, giving a brief history of the building and a glimpse of what Red Jacket (Calumet's name at that time) looked like at the height of the copper mining era.
Shelly writes, “This all started when I first met Lorri and she mused out loud, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the storefronts looked like they used to, back in the day?” I replied, “Well, maybe they can!” Our first building was the Thurner building as it was DDA owned and easy to get access to. After that, my landlord gave us permission to do the windows in the JCP building and the building Hahn Hammered copper is in. And so it began...
“We do things on a shoestring, often using things that are loaned to us, but mostly using what we find inside the buildings. It would be great if we could do windows in more unoccupied spaces, but it’s difficult getting a building owner's permission.”
She adds, “We plan on doing something fresh in all of the windows we currently have displays in. We'd like to show more art and perhaps do a call for art pertaining to “Saving Calumet”. We’ve been doing this for several years now and have gotten to see first-hand the [interiors of] cool old buildings of Calumet.”
Thank you Shelly and Lorri for your hard work and for making our downtown such an attractive and educational experience!
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