June 17 & June 18
As you walk the streets of downtown Kalamazoo, do you find your gaze traveling up the buildings, imagining the people that lived and worked upstairs?
So did the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission. In 2013 KHPC presented the first HIDDEN KALAMAZOO TOUR. Twenty sites, including six this year, have hosted over 4,000 tourists, climbing stairs, gazing through dusty windows and admiring the tattered remains of century old wallpaper.
In contrast, we have also seen the transformed spaces, rehabilitated and updated keeping the charm of the 19th and 20th century combined with the convenience of the 21st.
The tour benefits the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, founded in 1965, to fund projects that illuminate our heritage. Since 2013, the tour has raised over $40,000.
The Hidden Kalamazoo Tour began to showcase vacant downtown buildings and upper floors in the increasingly active and busy city center. For the fifth year, the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission has offered the opportunity for people to go where only maintenance staff and business owners were allowed. In 2013 and 2015 the tickets sold out almost a week before the tour.
When the tornado swept through downtown Kalamazoo in 1980, most of the upper floors of downtown buildings were vacant or used only for storage. Today, in 2016, only ten old buildings are unused upstairs. The upper floors have been redeveloped into beautiful apartments or comfortable new offices with high ceilings, beautiful woodwork and an atmosphere only old buildings offer.
Before these windows into the past disappear, the Hidden Kalamazoo Tour gives you a chance to visit the second floors and look out dusty windows through the lens of time. And this year the tour goes into behind the scenes spaces that have been in constant use for over 75 years, like The State Theater, into dressing rooms and back stage or since 1878 at the Ladies Library.