Corktown Works: Exhibit celebrates neighborhood's past, looks to its future

Corktown is taking over a corner of Midtown for a couple months.

The Greater Corktown Development Corp. has put together an exhibit called "Corktown Works!" at the Detroit Historical Museum in Midtown. The collection of artifacts, images, and interesting objects is a celebration of the neighborhood, past, present and future.

The theme of exhibit, which also includes photographs from Model D photographer Marvin Shaouni, is that Corktown is a neighborhood with a strong sense of community, lots of personality, and residents who have worked hard to keep it vital.

"It's playing off every meaning of the word works," says Kathleen Mutch of Greater Corktown Development Corporation, a historical researcher and manager of the Workers Row House project. "So as a community it works. It's not just a zip code."

The exhibit looks at the historical development of Corktown as a working-class community that attracted many of the city's Irish immigrant population. Historic photographs and objects gathered from current residents and descendants of the early immigrant families show how the working class lived in Corktown. A collection of uniforms showed the kind of jobs people held while they lived in the neighborhood during different eras.

But the exhibit also looks forward, looking at how the community is welcoming new businesses, attracting new people to enjoy the city, continuing to be a haven for artists, and bringing in new residents. The exhibit also spotlights Wayne State Univesrity archaeological excavation at the Workers Row House site in Corktown, as well as the plans to turn the row house into a museum and community space.

The Corktown Works! exhibit runs through April 25 at the Detroit Historical Museum at 5401 Woodward Ave. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m Wednesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Mutch will be part of a curator chat from 6 - 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Detroit Historical Museum. She will be joined by Tim McKay, executive director of GCDC, and Ellen Thackeray, a historical researcher and preservationist with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. Admission for the Curator Chat is free for Detroit Historical Society members and $20 for guests.

All photographs © Marvin Shaouni Photography

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