ISHPEMING — The Gossard building is one of Ishpeming’s most popular and historical landmark building with history dating back to the 1800s.
Sandra and Paul Arsenault worked to create the wall paying tribute wall to those that worked in the factory, many, many decades ago.
The H.W. Gossard Company was the world’s largest manufacturer of ladies undergarments in the 1950’s. It use to be department store then after a fire, it was rebuilt and turned into factory employing mostly women to make corsets. The Arsenaults’ and others worked tirelessly for more than two years to bring this day to the community.
“We have 900 names available with 800 on the wall and many of the Gossard artifacts. Gossard girls are here today that actually worked at the factory and this is a big day for them to see. The wall is very important to many people. People come every day to try and see their ancestors, mothers, grandmothers that worked here, it’ been really well accepted,” said Gossard Tribute Wall organizer, Paul Arsenault.”
Elaine and Marjorie, have been friends for more than 70 years, and are two original Gossard girls. They stopped in to relive some great memories from a time they have never forgotten.
“It was fascinating, it really was, it was fun to come to work I’ll say that. Original Gossard Girl Elaine Peterson says, “Everybody was there, everybody pitched in and helped, we were like a big family, right Marge?”
Marjorie Ketula adds, “Oh, we would all get together and go to Mable’s camp. Remember Mable? Oh we had fun. We all stuck together, we were like one big happy family. We only had two days a week working at the mine, so some of these people working at the Gossard were feeding their families.”
Original artifacts are on display, from spools of thread to sewing machines and many other original items. But most fascinating is that the names of the original workers are displayed on plaques made of the original sewing patterns from that time. The Gossard landmark building received a Michigan Economic Development Corporation Facade grant to bring this historic building back some of it’s original glory.
Currently 15 businesses are in operation at the Gossard on Cleveland Street in Ishpeming. The Gossard Tribute Wall is still a work in progress. If you know of anyone whose name maybe be missing from the wall or if you have any old artifacts, that would be a great addition, call Paul or Sandra Arsenault at (906) 485-5464 to contribute to the wall.