The Italian Hall / Italian Hall Tragedy

Registered Site L1337

The Italian Hall

The building that stood on this site was called the Italian Hall, and was home to the Societa Mutea Beneficenza Italiana, which aided immigrants and others in need. Built in 1908, the hall housed a saloon and an Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company store on the first floor. A main hall with a dining room, a barroom, and a stage were on the second floor. The hall was site of one of Michigan’s worst tragedies. On Christmas Eve 1913, seventy-three people died due to a false alarm of “Fire!” When the building was razed in 1984, the archway from its main entrance was saved. In 1989 the Village of Calumet, with the help of Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Friends of the Italian Hall created this park dedicated to those who died in 1913.
photo of The Italian Hall

Italian Hall Tragedy

By December 1913, thousands of area copper miners had been on strike for five months. They were fighting for union recognition, safer working conditions, shorter workdays and better pay. On Christmas Eve hundreds gathered on the second floor of the Italian Hall to attend a holiday party for the strikers’ families.  As the children filed to the stage to receive presents, someone yelled “Fire!” People panicked and rushed toward the exit. There was no fire. Many were trampled on the stairs. Officially seventy-three people died; more than half were children under ten. Despite a Congressional hearing and a coroner’s inquest, the person who yelled fire was never identified.

Original text updated 2012.

Erected 1987

Location: Seventh and Elm St.
Calumet, Houghton County

Topics:
Disasters

Latitude: 47.24812, Longitude: -88.45513

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