Plans to build granite monument at Italian Hall site

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CALUMET, Mich. (WLUC) - The arch of the Italian Hall serves as a reminder of the tragedy that took place in 1913, where 73 people were trampled to death during a Christmas Eve party, 59 of them children.

An independent committee has spearheaded efforts to build a monument for the fallen at the Memorial Park.

"There is a plan to erect a monument here at the Italian Hall site, it'll be a black piece of granite and on it will be inscribed all the names of the people who died here on this site," said Village of Calumet President Dave Geisler.

A lot of work has gone into the project.

"The Houghton-Keweenaw Genealogical Society did a lot of really good research on the families of the victims, all the people who died here, they looked at school records, they looked at some of the basic vital records, certainly the county death records," said National Parks Service Archivist Jeremiah Mason.

"The primary objective is to make sure that in the redesign on the memorial, that none of the historic resources buried underground were damaged accidentally by the work," said Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Michigan Technological University Timothy Scarlett.

Archeological examinations took place in 2012 and 2017 and most of the work was done by MTU students and community members, all volunteers.

"It was kind of an important project to make sure that we had the best possible information to establish who we know for sure did actually die here," said Mason.

In the meantime the Village of Calumet and the national parks service will continue to preserve the memory of those who lost their lives.

"Every Christmas Eve the Rotary Club comes over, they place 73 luminaries on the site and in addition we place a fresh wreath with always with a white ribbon and white carnations in memory of those who died here," said Geisler.

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