Work continues on the site of the combined historical museum | News, Sports, Jobs

(Terri Castelaz/Daily News Photos) Bill Cummings, president and historian of the Menominee Range Historical Foundation, displays an antique syringe in the doctor’s office in the renovated space of the Menominee Range Historical Museum. The instrument was once used by Dr. Joseph Addison Crowell. The museum has realized 11 exhibition halls in what was the old dry building.

IRON MOUNTAIN – Progress continues at the future Menominee Range Historical Museum.

Eleven showrooms, excluding glass and doors, are now complete in Shaft C Ludington of the Chapin Mine Dry Building at 300 Kent Street, Iron Mountain.

Finishing work – including trim, shelving, wallpaper and more – in several other showrooms is nearing completion and will be ready for artifacts soon.

“We are happy and happy to say that we are ahead of what we thought we were at this point,” said Bill Cummings, president and historian of the MRHM Foundation. “We have been very fortunate to receive generous donations, which has kept us moving forward.”

The new interior space will include 26 display cases, as well as several built-in units and 24 wall display cases.

BILL CUMMINGS, PRESIDENT and historian of the Menominee Range Historical Foundation, puts the finishing touches on the blacksmith’s shop, one of 11 stalls now complete in the old dry building.

“We will have well over 50 exhibits when this is all over,” Cummings said.

He pointed out that they had benefited greatly from much of the building done by Foundation Vice President Jim Hartwell and Museum Foundation Treasurer Guy Forstrom.

“Not having the cost of labor right now is huge,” Cummings said. “Between them, it’s amazing what they’ve been able to do.”

Hartwell began work on the general store in the common area in 2018. This area will include the classroom, buggy and livery sled displays, and a special display area.

Forstrom has also been busy moving the remaining artifacts from the old Carnegie Public Library to the new location. Several athletes from Kingsford High School recently participated in the move. “It was awesome – some of these pieces are big and very heavy,” he said.

The cooler display in the old dry building is shown.

Photographs of the exhibits were taken before they were taken down last summer. “It’s a benchmark for us as we create the new area,” he said.

They will add new exhibits and remove some, he said. They decided to replace the bedroom with a clothing store, after discovering unique antique mannequins in the basement of the eastern museum.

“We also have an incredible number of women’s clothing and hat items,” Cumming said. “Dresses and hats will be changed frequently.”

Having easy access to the screens was an important consideration, as those to the east were difficult as the viewing glass had to be removed.

As they pass through storage boxes, pieces will be added or moved to the Cornish Pumping Engine and Mining Museum and the WWII Military and Glider Museum.

They also found multiples of many objects, mainly because the museum accepted everything when they opened. “We could have outfitted a whole troop at one time with all the uniforms of the First World War”, he said laughing.

Several artifacts likely fit better in other locations, he added, so various local museums will be contacted to pick them up.

The council plans to hold another open house in the spring and will likely offer the unused pieces for sale at that time.

Work on indoor exhibits should be complete by mid-summer, Cummings said. However, they will not be able to complete the entire project without additional funds.

“As we go back to subcontractors, costs will increase rapidly,” said Hartwell. “The walls will be ready for plaster; glass will need to be installed and work done in the common room, including an insulated ceiling.

Renovating bathrooms installed over 20 years ago is another expense.

The board hopes the finances will come so they can keep moving forward.

The decision to move the historical museum to the one-story 1910 building was made for several reasons – to have all the museums in one place, to make it more accessible, and to provide ample parking.

Once the common area is complete, Cummings thinks they can at least open to the public. “The wall displays, which will be built by Hartwell, can be added at any time”, he said.

Hartwell, who retired from Dickinson Homes after 35 years, noted that the historic 112-year-old dry building is being renovated to last for generations to come.

The building was constructed with sandstone and steel, making it fireproof, and designed to hold 660 steel lockers for miners’ clothes. It was also equipped with showers and enamelled sinks.

“Walls and ceiling are well insulated to minimize heating costs, but also to protect artifacts,” Hartwell said, adding, “Hopefully whoever has it in the future will maintain it.”

Terri Castelaz can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 241, or

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Patrick F. Williams