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New Carnegie Center exhibit highlights Lorain's industrial roots

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    Pastor Woody and Peggy Chamberlaiin of Lorain look at the new permanent exhibit at Lorain Historical Society on Aug. 8.


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    People look at the new permanent exhibit at Lorain Historical Society Aug. 8.


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    Barb Piscopo, executive director, left, speaks at the new permanent exhibit ceremony Aug. 8.


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    The new permanent exhibit at Lorain Historical Society focuses on the city's industrial roots.



LORAIN — The Carnegie Center ushered in a new permanent exhibit Thursday evening.

The Lorain Historical Society held a VIP grand opening for phase one of its new exhibits at the center, focusing on the city’s industrial roots in the auto assembly, steel and shipbuilding industries.

Executive Director Barb Piscopo said the project has been more than two years in the making.

“For us doing a permanent exhibit that is going to pay tribute to Lorain is very serious business, and it was really important to us to get it right,” she said. “We think we did, so we hope the community does as well.”

In addition to the industrial information lining the second-floor wall, a case of lighthouse models courtesy of Dave Kramer is at the front of the new exhibit.

The exhibit was designed by Jan McKay and Associates and fabricated by Benchmark Craftsmen.

For McKay, who is a Lorain native and Admiral King High School graduate, the project was a labor of love,.

Her own family history intertwines with that on display, she said. Her grandparents came to Lorain and set up a music shop and coal company. Her other grandfather helped build the former St. Stanislaus Church on Elyria Avenue and worked at U.S. Steel, while another uncle worked on the shipyard.

“I’m very proud to be able to have this project,” she said.

She said she started working with the society three to four years ago with its strategic plan and was excited at the chance to help create the permanent exhibit.

McKay credited her team, including Richard Osborne, who helped write the plaques and other material dotting the exhibit walls. Both agreed Lorain’s grit and resilient spirit is hallmark throughout its history.

“The overriding theme is Lorain comes back,” Osborne said.

McKay added, “The international cultures aspect of Lorain is not just a festival or slogan. It’s a true piece of history that we will deal with in subsequent exhibits when they get it open.”

Curator Kaitlyn Donaldson said working on the project has been very meaningful to her because she — like many of the evening’s attendees — loves Lorain.

She noted many of the artifacts on display were collected by the Black River Historical Society, along with donations from community members.

The entire plan is designed to have 14 exhibits, highlighting important moments throughout the city’s 200-plus-year history. Phase one was paid for via a grant in the state budget in 2017. The society is looking for funding options — including donations — for phase two.

A general public grand opening is 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10.

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.
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