The Hidden Kalamazoo Tour returns to downtown Kalamazoo June 16 & 17, offering an opportunity to visit the City’s less traveled historic spaces before these windows into the past disappear. Now in its 6th year, the tour’s theme will be “The Best of Hidden Kalamazoo,” guiding visitors through some of the favorite sites from the tours first five years.
This year the tour goes into behind the scenes spaces that have been in constant use for over 90 years, like the exquisite State Theater. Tourist will also see the vacant upper floors above the Coney Island and the former Opera Hall in the Jim Gilmore building at Portage and East Michigan.
This year organizers hope to include a bonus site at a rehabilitation project currently underway downtown. The site cannot be announced until the exact phase of rehabilitation is known, which is expected to be approximately week in advance of the tour.
Returning from previous tours, historic buildings constructed out of Legos will be on display in the atrium of City Hall for free to anyone who wants to visit. City Hall will also serve as a hub with book sales, ticket sales (if tickets are available), and accessible restrooms.
Ticket sales are limited to 900 sold in advance of the tour to the general public. Tickets are just $15 for both days of the tour and are available beginning May 1st at City of Kalamazoo offices and select area businesses:
- Spirit of Kalamazoo at 154 South Kalamazoo Mall (cash and checks only)
- Douglas and Son Paint - 231 W. Cedar (cash and checks only)
- D&W - 2103 Parkview at Oakland
- D&W - 525 Romence in Portage
- Kalamazoo City Hall Treasurer’s Office - 241 W. South
- Kalamazoo Public Services Building - 415 Stockbridge
Previous Hidden Kalamazoo Tours have sold out in advance, so tickets may not be available during the tour.
Tourists can go from one site to the next on their own schedule and start and finish at any stop. Each site is staffed by a manager and a crew of tour guides. The tour sites for the 2018 Hidden Kalamazoo Tour are:
- Van Kersen Building (Food Dance) Basement and more - 401 E. Michigan
- Hall Building (Coney Island) - 266 E. Michigan
- Opera House-Union Hall-Pratt building (Gilmore Building) - 162 E. Michigan
- First National Bank (Peregrine) - 108 E. Michigan
- Upjohn Works Headquarters (Bronson Healthcare Group) - 301 John Street
- State Theater - 402 S. Burdick
- City Hall (tour hub) - 241 West South
- Bonus Site, to be announced
The 6th Annual Hidden Kalamazoo Tour is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Next Exit History, Kalamazoo Sportswear and WOOD-TV.
About Hidden Kalamazoo
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. Tickets have sold out for previous tours so community members are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.
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, only seven old buildings are completely unused upstairs. The upper floors have been redeveloped into beautiful apartments or comfortable new offices with high ceilings, beautiful woodwork and an atmosphere that only historic buildings offer. And new construction is underway that will change the Kalamazoo skyline. Before these windows into the past disappear, the Hidden Kalamazoo Tour gives the community a chance to visit the second and third floors and look out dusty windows through the lens of time.
The Hidden Kalamazoo tour is a fundraiser for the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, a self-funded city advisory board. You can follow the Tour on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or at www.hiddenkalamazoo.com. Traffic and tour directions will be posts via social media as the tour nears.