Titanic’s Pure Michigan Connection

Posted on June 4, 2013

Located in a deliberately nondescript warehouse in Royal Oak is a company with wealthy clients around the world, yet it’s barely known in Michigan.  Perhaps its most famous client is a company from Belfast, Ireland, called Harland & Wolff.  Its customers include the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C., and its friends include filmmaker James Cameron and the man who discovered the Titanic, Robert Ballard.

Hidden within the warehouse is the world’s only exact scale replica of the Titanic.  At 18 feet in length, almost 6 feet high, and weighing more than a ton, it is perhaps the rarest and most valuable model of any kind in the world.  The company is Fine Art Models, and its owner, Gary Kohs, could live anywhere in America, but chooses Michigan. 

Kohs grew up in Northville; graduated from the University of Notre Dame; started his first company in his 20’s, owns a lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and now spends his time building, collecting, trading and selling models and other rare artifacts around the world.

“My latest passion in Michigan is the beautiful little community of St. Clair,” said Kohs.  Although his company works out of its warehouse in Royal Oak, and Kohs has a home in Birmingham, he fell in love with St. Clair and in 2012 bought a home on the blue waters of the St. Clair River.  “St. Clair has a long tradition of residents giving back, and as a new resident, I wanted to do something so support that culture of philanthropy.”

The ‘something’ that Kohs is doing is working with another strong Michigan company, Fifth Third Bank, to bring his famous Titanic model to the Moore Boathouse in St. Clair before it begins another world tour later this year.  The St. Clair exhibit, “Titanic: The Building of an Icon” presented by Fifth Third Bank, is the only public viewing of the model planned in American for 2013.  Unlike other Titanic exhibits, this one will focus on the engineering marvel behind the construction of the largest passenger ship of its time, and the artistry and engineering behind the only Titanic builder’s model.  Media Day for this exhibit will be June 11th from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Moore Boathouse in St. Clair.  RSVP’s are requested.

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