Last December brought more than winter. Just before Christmas, Thermo Fisher announced more layoffs in Two Rivers along with news that the plant’s operations were moving south to Texas and Mexico. Thermo Fisher is the owner of the complex that the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum resides in. A meeting with then General Manager of the plant was not encouraging. While the move was expected to take at least a year and a half, it was suggested that we make contingency plans to find a new home. There was a slight silver lining in those clouds. Should Thermo Fisher leave, the 150 office jobs in the main building would continue on site, and we could be around as long as the office was open. It must be noted that when the museum opened, it was due to the dedication of then General Manager, Mike Brown, to allow the Two Rivers Historical Society 20,000 sq. ft. of unused space to house the new museum. This came with an incredibly low lease which included heat and lights.
This year brought little more than rumor and uncertainty. With no warning, the General Manager was gone and workers spoke of the closing coming by summer. Management’s refusal to speak to city officials, much less to the museum merely raised worries of being asked to leave with little notice. By summer, plant workers were given 60 days before operations ended on September 21, 2012. In August, it became known that Thermo Fisher planned to sell off the product line completely and the building was up for sale as well. Still we received no opportunity to find out if we should pack or plan to stay for a length of time.
Finally, on October 3rd, we met with corporate VP of real estate from Thermo Fishers global headquarters in Waltham, MA, Bill Jenkins. The building was in fact up for sale but the time needed to auction the plant’s equipment and prepare for an eventual buyer would allow us heat and lights until April of 2013.
This news lets us keep our programming through winter and should a buyer emerge, we will make every effort to stay in the original building and continue running Hamilton as always.