Lorenzo Cultural Center examines America at the turn of the 20th century

– Monday, February 11, 2013 12:00AM

Series of Events and Exhibits Highlight the Stark Contrasts of the Gilded Age

It was a time characterized by seemingly boundless economic expansion and international leadership in trade and industry, when American captains of industry celebrated their wealth as never before, while the majority of Americans remained poor.  From Feb. 23 to May 5, the Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College shines a spotlight on this era of immense change with the program series, The Gilded Age to the Great War: America at the Turn of the Century.

Through nearly 40 experiences, including presentations, storytelling and character reenactment, music and movies, different aspects of the Gilded Age will be explored, including the period’s tycoons, the arts and culture, immigration and social issues, as well as uniquely local perspectives.

“The years between the end of the Civil War and the onset of World War I were a time of great disparity,” said Christine Guarino, director, Cultural Affairs & Community Engagement at Macomb.  “The opulence of the Gilded Age contrasted with waves of poor immigrants seeking the American dream, while wealth generated from increasing industrialization was offset by dangerous working conditions for the working class.”

The Gilded Age to the Great War kicks off with a presentation on Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. by noted Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy, Ph.D., professor of history at Sanford University and author of the book, Over Here: The First World War and American Society.  He will explain the United States’ entry into World War I, how the war was fought and its impact on the country.  On Apr. 28, 2 p.m., author T.J. Stiles, who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, will discuss how Vanderbilt contributed to the birth of the Gilded Age.

Other program highlights include:

• Local history:  From Hooves to Horsepower:  The Birth of Modern Detroit, Feb. 24, with journalist Jack Lessenberry; Bath City, USA, Mar. 1, with Kim Parr, director, Macomb County Historical Society & Crocker House Museum,  Mount Clemens; Tashmoo:  The Park and the Steamer, Mar. 16, with historian and author Art Woodford; The Original Freer Gallery of Art, Mar. 17, with art and architecture historian Thomas W. Brunk, Ph.D.; Mary Stratton and Pewabic Pottery:  Then and Now, Mar. 20; The Railway Freight Car Industry and Social Conflict in Gilded Age Detroit, Mar. 21, with Thomas Klug, Ph.D., professor of history,  Marygrove College.

• Storytelling and music:  Women Who Changed America:  Susan B. Anthony and Juliette Gordon Low, Mar. 14, with re-enactor Marie Papciak; Madame C.J. Walker:  The First American Self-Made Woman Millionaire, Mar. 23, with storyteller Rosie M. Chapman; Bringing America’s Musical Past to Life, Apr. 14, with the Dodworth Saxhorn Band.

• Film screenings and discussion: All Quiet on the Western Front, Apr. 18, and Iron-Jawed Angels, May 2, both hosted by Elton Weintz, history professor, Macomb Community College. All of the events are free, but preregistration is required either at www.lorenzoculturalcenter.com or by calling 586.445.7348.

Exhibits available during the program series include the Gilded Age to the Great War, featuring artifacts and displays that highlight various aspects of the time period; Petticoat Patriots:  How Michigan Women Won the Vote, which explores how the woman’s suffrage movement unfolded in the state by employing stories, images and artifacts, as well as interactive elements including a voting booth and visitor dialogue area; and So I Come to America:  Detroit Pre-World War I Immigrants, featuring black-and-white photographs and interview excerpts of immigrants who came to southeast Michigan prior to World War I.  Exhibits are free and don’t require advance registration to view.

The Lorenzo Cultural Center is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday and 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays.  School and group tours are also available.  For a full schedule of events or more information, visit www.LorenzoCulturalCenter.com or call 586.445.7348.

About the Lorenzo Cultural Center

The Lorenzo Cultural Center (www.LorenzoCulturalCenter.com) explores the influences and experiences that shape our community's heritage, examining topics from a variety of perspectives and creating interactive opportunities for learning, celebration and entertainment.  Located on Macomb Community College's Center Campus, Hall and Garfield Roads in Clinton Township, the cultural center is adjacent to the Macomb Center for Performing Arts.

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu)  is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually.  Macomb nationally ranks among the top 25 awarders of associate degrees and as the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan.  The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: Tish Wirth; 586.445.7560, wirthp@macomb.edu

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