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Nappanee celebrates history of woodwork

A Nappanee Center exhibit features Napanee's history of woodworking craftsmanship this October.

Posted on Oct. 7, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

Fans of Nappanee’s famous “Hoosier” cabinets are in for a special treat this October.

An exhibit called “Nappanee Kitchens: A Well-Crafted Legacy” is on display in the Nappanee Center during the month of October in honor of Nappanee’s long history of woodworking craftsmanship.

“Nappanee is known for its top quality Coppes cabinetry,” said Martha Weirich, Heritage Center coordinator. “This exhibit promotes our history and lets people see the craftsmanship and how the cabinets have evolved over time.”

Housed in the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Center, the exhibit features a permanent collection of over 30 models of kitchenettes, tables and other items made by the Coppes and Mutschler companies of Nappanee. Cabinets are arranged chronologically by year of construction, ranging from 1902 to 1950.

“People come in and say, ‘I remember my grandma having this kitchen set,’” Weirich said. “There’s a lot of reminiscing.”

Special displays include kitchen plans, photographs, delivery uniforms and items made by local factory workers. A Coopes/Mutschler family exhibit features photos and other historical items highlighting the men and women who led the woodworking dynasty that was responsible for much of Nappanee’s growth at the turn of the last century.

“It seems like everyone from Nappanee has some connection to the factories,” Weirich said. “Their parents worked there, or their grandparents. And Coppes is still making cabinets today, keeping the tradition.”

Exhibit visitors will also see the “Hoosier” cabinets that were popular in Indiana in the 1920s. These kitchenettes were typically equipped with a built-in flour bin and a crank to sift flour.

An expert from the Nappanee Public Library will lead exhibit tours on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in celebration of National Hoosier Cabinet Day. Tours will also be available on Oct.13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Activities for children will also be available on Friday at Coppes Commons, the retail complex housed in the restored Coppes Zook & Mutschler Company factory. Children can choose from apple, strawberry or blueberry filling and roll out a kid-sized crust the old fashioned way with help from Nappanee Public Library volunteers and the Nappanee Bakery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Nappanee Center exhibit is free to the public and open all month long. Regular hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

For more information, call the Nappanee Public Library at (574) 773-7919.


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