Italian Hall Park to receive a stone monument

Photo Keweenaw National Historic Park The Italian Hall Memorial Park will receive a monument later this year, upon which will be the names of the children and adults were killed in the hall during a 1913 Christmas party when an unidentified man yelled “fire.”

CALUMET — The Italian Hall Memorial Park on Seventh Street in Calumet will receive a stone monument sometime later this year, according to Peggy Germain and Mike Lahti, Italian Hall Memorial Park committee chairman.

The Italian Hall was the scene of a Christmas party for children of striking miners hosted by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners. During the party on the second floor of the hall, at which an estimated 400 people were in attendance, an unidentified man yelled “fire.” A rush for the stairs resulted in the deaths of 73 people, 59 of whom were children.

Germain, Calumet Village trustee, said the council has approved a preliminary plan of placing the names of the Italian Hall disaster victims on the monument. The Italian Hall Memorial Park Committee will decide upon the type, design and the materials to be used for the monument. The choices are granite of a currently undecided color, and glass.

“Most of the (committee) members say granite’s fine, but a couple of them are saying it should be glass,” Lahti said. “They’re concerned about it looking like a cemetery, just because it’s granite, but it’s not in a cemetery. It’s in an older part of town, a historic part of town, and granite fits well. It’s what everybody uses, because its going to be around here. It’s sturdy. People can come there and they can see it. It’s solid. It’s respectful, and it’s someplace where they can just sit and contemplate what happened (there) on Christmas in 1913.”

Lahti said that while some committee members are considering glass because it is less costly, there are other factors to consider.

“The other idea is that glass is a little bit cheaper,” Lahti said. “You have to be concerned with the weather we have, and I don’t know too many who use glass, and you have to be concerned with vandalism or damage it. The difference in price isn’t that much.”

Lahti said the monument will be an asset to the park.

“It’s been really good to do this,” he said, “knowing that in the end it’s going to be a memorial that shows respect, that shows remembrance for the people that died that year.”