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Local News / Entertainment

Wednesday, 10 February, 2010 1:18 AM

New Corktown exhibit opens at the Detroit Historical Museum

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Corktown exhibit will be on display through April. 25 at the Detroit Historical Museum.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- Corktown is Detroit's oldest neighborhood. It lies just outside the downtown district. Corktown is the home of Slows Bar-B-Que, the former Michigan Central Train Depot and includes the land where Tiger Stadium once stood. A new exhibit has opened at the Detroit Historical Museum highlighting this area. It features the Workers Row House Museum, photographs from people and events in Corktown and historical objects from current residents and descents of the area.

"This is an exhibit emphasing Corktown's history as a development tool," said Timothy McKay, Executive Director of the Greater Corktown Development Corporation (GCDC). "We've manifested the project in a project known as the Workers Row House Project. It is a historic building built as a tenmant in 1849-50. It is a site we're developing to attract tourism. We're doing a lot of research on the house. We've just finished restoring the exterior to the 1850's."

The Historical Museum exhibit features a historical photo and two rows of seats from the former Tiger Stadium, a photo of the old Michigan Central Train Depot, a model of the block of businesses that includes Slow's Restaurant, a reproduction of the Workers Row House and much more. The original research on the Workers Row House was done by Ellen Thackery, a graduate student at Ball State University.

The GCDC made offers purchased the block of businesses that were vacant and abandoned along Michigan Avenue. It sent out a request for proposals for new tenants. The organization also encouraged the Mercury Coffee Bar to open for business in this area. However, it recently closed for good. The idea was to follow a 19th century idea of having a business on the first level and having an apartment above. All of the apartments are currently filled. Slow's Bar-B-Que and O'Connor real estate occupy three of the other spaces. Three additional spaces are currently being renovated.

"A signature piece is the kitchen table that comes from the Row House itself," McKay said about the exhibit. "It's a metaphor for all of Corktown and working class folks. Also, I think the array of uniforms hung up in the back kind of symbolize the variety of working folks in the uniforms they had to wear."

He said the Corktown district used to be much bigger when baseball was played at Tiger Stadium. It used to extend all the way into downtown. The Workers Row House Museum should be completed and will welcome its first visitors within the next year.

McKay said there is an addtional exhibit inside Wayne State University's Museum of Anthropology, which is located inside the Old Main Building at the corner of Warren and Cass avenues. That exhibit was put together by Professor Thomas Killion. "What's on exhibit there are objects from the archaeological dig that was completed in 2008," the executive director of the GCDC added.

The archaeological dig was recognized with a Governor's Award for Historical Preservation in May 2009.

"Corktown has a lot to be proud of and in spite of the economy, I think we demonstrate a vital and critical piece to having a healthy city and healthy region," McKay added. "I think we demonstrate we're an example of success. Corktown Works!"

The Corktown exhibit will be on display through April 25.

The Detroit Historical Museum is located at 5401 Woodward Ave. (NW corner of Kirby) in Detroit’s Cultural Center. Regular hours are Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the Museum is not open to the public but available for group tours by calling (313) 833-7979. Adult admission is $6. Seniors (60+), college students with valid college ID, and youth ages 5-18 pay $4. Admission for children ages four and under is free. Parking in the Museum’s lot is $4 at all times. For more information, call the Museum at (313) 833-1805 or check out their website at www.detroithistorical.org.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Photo of a church in the Corktown district

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Artifacts from the excavation behind the Workers Row House served as evidence of the lives of residents in the 1800s.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Kitchen table from the Workers Row House

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Photos from an earlier era and a money certificate

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Chair from the Workers Row House

 

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