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Uniroyal Tire Factory Gallery to open in Banbury Place

Heading into the Chippewa Valley Museum in Carson Park, visitors can learn a rich mix of the region’s history, including the former Uniroyal Goodrich tire factory housed in the current Banbury Place.

But, the museum’s director Carrie Ronnander thinks, that experience could be amplified if visitors could learn about the factory in the building in which it existed.

Thanks to a partnership with the museum, Visit Eau Claire and Royal Credit Union, visitors to Banbury Place will soon have that chance. The organizations will open the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Factory Gallery in March in Banbury Place’s Building 13.

“The opportunity to share the collections in their native place, where they came from, is very exciting,” Ronnander said. “People can make a stronger connection to what that place was and how it had an impact on the community.”

The Uniroyal gallery will be open for free, self-guided tours from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays beginning in March, Visit Eau Claire’s executive director Linda John said.

She said the space is being set up with exhibits and artifacts around the outer walls of the 1,500-square-foot room located on the ground floor of Building 13. Those will be curated by the Chippewa Valley Museum.

Ronnander said some exhibits will include a 24-foot wall bearing large images and a timeline to show how Banbury Place has evolved from its Uniroyal factory days to the entrepreneurial hub it is today. Another section will include a more industrial look with artifacts the museum currently has in storage from the tire factory.

“Big, heavy industrial things so visitors get a sense of the hard work involved in making tires,” Ronnander said.

Additionally, they will have a display case for Royal Credit Union artifacts because the company was created by Uniroyal Goodrich employees.

When she was approached by Visit Eau Claire for the partnership, Ronnander said, she was quick to agree because she thinks preserving the city’s labor history is important.

“The need to recognize this manufacturing story is essential to who we are and how we’ve changed over the last couple of decades,” she said. “We tend to forget about the history of work, but we all work in some capacity. It’s important to keep telling the story of labor in whatever form it happens to be.”

John’s vision for the gallery is a space open to the public to gather and explore on their own. In addition, she said it is available to rent, and visitors also can buy guided tours that delve into the history and culture of Banbury Place for groups of five or more.

The endeavor is part of Visit Eau Claire’s new “Signature Experiences” program, which will provide residents and visitors the opportunity to sign up for unique local experiences. Other opportunities through that program include: brewery tours at Lazy Monk Brewing and Leinenkugel’s; a Meet the Artist experience; Food and Friends at Forage; maker workshops at Volume One; a hands-on art experience; and a behind-the-scenes tour with the Eau Claire Express Northwoods League baseball team’s Carson Park stadium.

Because several of those experiences already occur in Banbury Place, John said, adding the Uniroyal gallery was a natural fit.

“Banbury Place is just such a big facility — it’s physically huge, close to 2 million square feet,” she said. “People not from the community are like, ‘What is that?’ I love that we’re able to bring this story to life.”

Ronnander added she hopes it can serve as a nontraditional museum space that provides know-ledge to people who might otherwise not know about Banbury Place’s history.

“Sometimes traditional museums aren’t comfortable places for people to visit,” she said. “Having other places for people to discover history, I think, is important.”

For more information about the gallery as well as Visit Eau Claire’s Signature Experiences, visit visiteauclaire.com.

Contact reporter: 715-833-9214, katy.macek@ecpc.com, @KatherineMacek on Twitter


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Party of 2 on the lake

An angler ice fishes Sunday near a snow sculpture of sorts Sunday on the frozen surface of Half Moon Lake. According to The Weather Co., conditions will permit the sculpture to stay and will be favorable for more ice fishing. Today’s weather will be partly cloudy with a high of 25 degrees and a low of 13 degrees. The forecast expects Tuesday to be partly cloudy, Wednesday to be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow, Thursday to be mostly cloudy and Friday to be partly cloudy. Tuesday’s high will be 27 degrees, and the low will be 18 degrees. From Wednesday through Friday, the predicted high temperature is 31 degrees, with the low ranging from 18 to 20 degrees. For weather details see Page 8B. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com.