History of Industry Sculpture Series (2018) Concrete Technologies

Limestone, cement, and concrete industries have been a mainstay for local economic and educational development since the evolution of the lumber industry in the early 1900s. As the timber resources were exhausted, market demand for new technology and economic growth increased. Alpena and all of Northeast Michigan embraced industrial reforms an diversification by virtue of ingenuity and steadfast initiative. The region’s presence on the Great Lakes would prove to be a vital component of global trade and transport, ensuring an effective shift towards the cement and concrete markets. Limestone would opportunely prove to be the true “salt of the earth” for future economic development in the region.

Besser Company’s rich history in the concrete industry is humbly reflected in the limestone pillars at the center of the entire History of Industry Sculpture Series. The sculptural collection of Besser block machine gears and cams (circa 1929) is representative of the heart and mechanics of closely interrelated technologies and industries that have sustained this community’s economy in its most modern manifestations, propelling the region to global relevance.

Lest we forget other economic contributions made by Jesse Besser, the Sculpture Series has been aptly placed on the very spot where the Besser-Churchill Company, a sawmill producing wooden shingles and barrel staves, once stood. A bronze plaque now reclaimed for this installation commemorates Jesse Besser and his contributions to the community and specifically the creation of the original Besser Block Machine.

Sculpture height 5′ – width 4′

Stone height 5.5′ – width 8′ – weight approx. 7-8 tons

Directional West

Artist/Design – Timothy M. Kuehnlein, Jr. and Jean Stewart (Alpena Community College and Thunder Bay Arts Council Inc.); Kevin Curtis, Brian Siegert, Brandon Ciupka, and Candie Combroski (Besser Company)

Medium/Material – Collage of original Besser Block Machine gears and cams

Information provided by Thunder Bay Art Council & Gallery, Tim Kuehnlein

Photo courtesy of Thunder Bay Art Council & Gallery

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