Dec 24-01

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2001: December: Dec 24-01
Remembering the Italian Hall Disaster    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Charlie Hopper
Scene of the disaster    ...scroll down to share comments
From the MTU Archives

Charlie at Pasty Central on Monday, December 24, 2001 - 02:46 pm:

The arched door on the left of the lower photo is all that remains of the Italian Hall, seen above, 98 years later. For more pictures and info on the tragedy which occurred here, see Copper Country Reflections. If you have Real Player, you can click here to hear the story as told by Jack Foster.

Cousin Jack

Bruce Penn Sanford, FL. on Monday, December 24, 2001 - 03:59 pm:

My Aunt, the late Gladys M. Matheson, was supposed to attend that party. She came down with a very bady cold, and as a result had to stay home. She died in Arlington, Virginia in l983, at the age of 83. She often told us the story and how a bad cold saved her.
Bruce J. Penn
Sanford, FL.

By State of Washington, MCH on Monday, December 24, 2001 - 04:27 pm:

Where exactly is that doorway? I grew up between Hancock and Calumet and never saw that Arch! Although we all heard about the tragedy behind the Hall Story.

By Erin McWilliams, Philadelphia on Monday, December 24, 2001 - 07:56 pm:

Good to see that the Keweenaw's gonna have a White Christmas after all. I had my fingers crossed! Remembering back to last Christmas in my toasty apt. on Shelden St. and missing the U.P...

By Jan Wisconsin on Monday, December 24, 2001 - 10:27 pm:

My grandfather help to build the hall. He took my mother there for the Christmas program when some one had yelled fire. He knew where the fire escapes were and led people and my mother out down the fire escapes.
That was a very sad time for the village of Calumet and it's people, but I thank God that my grand dad got my mom out of there.

By DMac/Lake Linden on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 07:07 am:

The Arts Center in Hancock did a photo exhibit of the Italian Hall at one time. It was extremely eerie. Very powerful to see.

Happy Holidays to my Pasty Pals! And a special one to Charlie and the crew, especially the regular photographers...Dan, Steve, guys do make this a real special place to stop every day! Thanks and, keep doing what you do best! God Bless!

By Cousin Jack on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 11:45 am:

Italian Hall stood at the NW corner of 7th and Elm and I remember walking past it many times on my way to and from my Aunt and Uncle's 7th Street home before the walls came tumbling down. The standing archway is a nice tribute.
Now for a little Christmas cheer, here's a shot of a pasty shop window in Truro, Cornwall courtesy of:
Cornwall Cam


By polly , milwaukee on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 01:52 pm:

there is a poem written by woody guthrie (father of arlo) .."this land is your land " about the italian hall fire. in addition, there is a listing on the michigan genweb site of the victims of the fire. I was quite surprised to see who they were...not shom I was led to believe as a child.

By JWF WAUSAU on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 02:17 pm:

My old apartment manager was Joe Marko. He was in the hall at the time of the incident. I wonder if any one knows of his family. I know they moved to the mines in Minnisota. He was in Milwaukee 1982. He was just a kid and his sister held him from running down the stairway.

By Betty, Houston on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 03:32 pm:

Cousin Jack, thanks for sending the Cornwall Cam. I loved seeing where my forebears once lived in
Cornwall. Boy, those pasties by Santa are kinda chubby, aren't they?

By Brad, Green Bay Wi on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 05:36 pm:

Hi, here is a site It is a film project about the song 1913 massacre and the hall .I was lucky to be given as a gift , the mortgage papers for the hall in about 1980..Thanks to Fred Marcy!!I hope to get them to the Michigan Tech archives or the park service someday.

By Lois,Fl on Tuesday, December 25, 2001 - 11:06 pm:

Polly in Milwaukee,

The Woody Guthrie song about the disaster is called, 1913 Massacre on an album by his son, Arlo recorded in 1972. Woody had previously recorded it.

By Bryon, Kansas on Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 10:34 am:

My mom first told me the story of the Italian Hall when I was about 4. I still remember that she went into that building when she was 7 ot 8 before it was torn down.

By Abe--Calumet on Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 03:33 pm:

I remember standing on Elm street with my grandpa when they were tearing down the Italian Hall. They claimed the building was ready to collapse and was a huge liability. When the crane operator took the first swing, the wrecking ball just bounced off. It was sad to see just how sturdy the old building still was. Many wish it could have been saved.

By bunkie - MI on Wednesday, January 2, 2002 - 05:41 pm:

Abe, thanks for the first-hand account of the demolition. This seems to refute the theory that the building was ready to fall on the next passerby on the west side of Seventh. It is a pity such a historic building couldn't be preserved.

By Lisa,TN on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 04:43 pm:

This story reminded me of my Great Grandmother "Gram" (although my mother says that is not her name I am sure it is) Helen Putansu.
She would tell my sisters and I about being in the Italian Hall fire. Of course being very small we had no idea what that meant. We went to school at Morrison Elementary School, which if you will recall was right across the street, and saw that building every day.
The story was that my Gram went to the program with her mother and siblings, her mother being pregnant at the time, she remembers seeing a little girl with blonde hair done in long ring cirls wearing a red dress singing Jingle Bells when someone screamed "Fire".
Her mother kept her children with her as best she could as everyone rushed to the door that would end up causing so many deaths, but her sons were lost in the panic.
She took my great grandmother and her sisters and had to jump out of a second story window to get out. The boys could not find their mother (how they got out no one can even remember now,)nor she them, they had to walk amongst all of the dead looking for the boys. (How she could have stood that I will never know). The boys couldn't find their mother either so they did what they thought best and went home. Thank goodness for little boys who know to go home when something like this happens, and for mothers who keep their wits about them. Still such a tragedy in history.
Of course my beloved Gram is no longer with us, just as the building no longer stands, but some memories seem to stay with you a good long time.

By Tim, California on Friday, March 1, 2002 - 09:20 pm:

I am a published author beginning research for a book about the Italian Hall disaster and am looking for any information or input about it. I can be reached at

By JB on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 11:30 am:

It took a lot of time, studies, and thought to demolish the building. It wasn't an easy thing to do. That is why the arch was resurrected. Peggy Germain, area historian, wanted a memorial as did the labor union heads. That is why the present site is even there and not a pile of rubble. Many people worked to fight for a site to tribute the victims and their families.

Powered by:  
Join Today!
Messages can no longer be posted to these older discussion pages, but you are welcome to join the conversation on Today's Pasty Cam

Here's a list of messages posted in the past 24 hours

See our guest photo gallery for more great views from the U.P.

While in the Copper Country be sure to visit
On US-41 north of Calumet
on US-41 in Kearsarge, a mile north of Calumet.
(The home of Pasty Central)

Home | Pasty Cam | Contest | Order Now | Bridge Cam | Pasty.NET | GP Hall of Fame | Making Pasties | Questions