Hidden Kalamazoo returns for 2017!  Save the Date June 16-17, 2017

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?

Hiemstra in-lkg-out thru wdws

So did the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission. In 2013 KHPC presented the first HIDDEN KALAMAZOO TOUR. Twenty sites, including seven 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 fourth 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. We will tour the abandoned Montgomery Wards over Terrapin and the former Boudeman Insurance office over Rustica. On Michigan Avenue in the Haymarket historic district, visit the space that served Benjamin Lyons office, the first papermaker in Kalamazoo and the third floor of the Weber building, altered by the 1980 tornado and originally housing the Congregation of Moses.

State Aud D

Also included this year is a bonus site at a work in progress – yet to be announced, but located right in the downtown with all the other sites. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Last year at the Kalamazoo County Fair, David Kohrman built several historic downtown buildings, both lost and surviving, from Lego bricks. Part of that display will be set up in the atrium of City Hall and is free to anyone who wants to see. By happy coincidence, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum is hosting a LEGO® Travel Adventure Exhibit as well, which will feature a 12-foot model of WMU’s East Hall.


You can also take a few minutes at City Hall to help with the city’s new master Plan – leave us your ideas and thoughts on Imagine Kalamazoo!

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