Local group proposing new antique printing, boat museum

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – A local group is looking to bring a new historical museum to Tomahawk.

During the City of Tomahawk Park and Recreations Committee meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, March 12, several individuals involved in the project provided a proposal to construct an Antique Print Shop and Tomahawk Boat Museum near the Tomahawk Area Historical Society’s current museums, located on city-owned property on E. Washington Ave., near Washington Square Park.

Gene Winter, Dan Winter, Louie Heuser, Bill Sparr, Pat Pietila, Kay Kissinger Wolf, Win Semmler, Jim Wise, Kathy Tobin and Tomahawk Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sherry Hulett are spearheading efforts on the proposed museum.

According to the proposal, Louie Heuser, a recently-retired, longtime Tomahawk-area printer, still uses a Linotype machine, as well as antique type and presses. The proposal said almost all Linotypes have been scrapped, and it is “rare to find one still in operation.”

Heuser would be willing to operate his Linotype at the proposed museum, the proposal said.

Meanwhile, Gene Winter has dreamed for decades of housing his collection of historic, locally-made Tomahawk Boat Company crafts in a museum. More than a year ago, Winter was given permission by the city to construct a museum on city-owned property on Deer Park Rd., east of the Kwahamot Ski Show site. However, an illness stalled the project, and fundraising efforts never developed, the proposal said.

Winter still has his sights set on showcasing his boats in a museum.

“Together with five members of the Tomahawk Area Historical Society, a group of us have talked about the advantages of merging the plans into one building on vacant city property behind the Old Kindergarten Museum, enhancing the existing historical complex (Old Kindergarten, Log Museum, On Target Boat and locomotive) while combining fundraising efforts,” the proposal stated. “The City Clerk, Building Inspector and City Parks Leadperson have all been approached about the proposal and have indicated the site is a favorable location.”

The proposal noted that there is “plenty of room for such a structure.”

Under current plans, the proposed structure would be a roughly 5,000-square-foot, one-story, mostly metal building. The Boat Museum wing would face E. Washington Ave., while the Print Museum would face N. 5th St.

There would be entrances to both wings facing their respective roads, but the one on E. Washington Ave. would serve as the primary entrance.

The new structure would be “flush or behind the front of the current Old Kindergarten Museum out of respect for its history in town,” the proposal said.

A number of amenities are in the works, including welcoming façade features, a garage door facing the alley to allow access for machinery and boats, a storage and mechanical area, a store to sell merchandise, seating for educational classes and informational video displays.

The group said it originally hoped to connect the proposed museum to the Old Kindergarten building, but “there does not appear to be an economical way to link the buildings with a hallway.”

“Naturally, this layout is subject to changes and suggestions from the architect,” the proposal stated. “We have been told to start big and downsize depending on cost.”

The proposal said the new museum would be staffed by volunteers and the historians themselves, as well as possibly by summer interns, noting that both Heuser and Winter have indicated that they could find apprentices to train in the workings of their displays.

The group provided a rough layout and placement of the proposed museum, noting plans are subject to change. Contributed photo.

Currently, the group expects the new museum to be open during the same hours as the two current Historical Society museums, but separate entrances would allow for additional hours.

“The goal is to make tours family-friendly,” the proposal stated.

Looking ahead, the group said it will seek private donations and grants, plan a formal campaign and hold fundraisers.

After a brief walkthrough of the proposal and minimal discussion, the committee approved the site for the proposed museum. As the planning process moves along, the group will provide updates to the committee, and the committee will take action on necessary items.

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