The Polish Art Center was originally founded in 1958, by Polish immigrant Joseph Kalenkiewicz. Located in downtown Hamtramck, the small Polish import shop was later sold in 1973 to Raymond and Joan Bittner, who had long since dreamed of running a family-owned and operated business celebrating Poland and all her rich cultural traditions. That dream actually began in 1967, when Raymond first fell in love with Poland during an educational pilgrimage. Later, he met Joan, a Canadian of Scottish descent, who immediately became enamored with Raymond's Polish heritage. The two residents of Farmington Hills, married, moved to Hamtramck and eventually welcomed three children who would go on to help support the family business.
Since then, the Bittners have developed The Polish Art Center into one of the country's premier emporiums of Polish cultural and traditional goods. The Center is also an important member of the Hamtramck Polish community. Aside from preserving Polish heritage through The Center's wide assortment of items, Raymond and Joan remain active in their civic duties, regularly displaying their Polish cultural artifacts at festivals, schools and libraries. In 2004, the couple expanded their operation into an adjacent building and converted it into an educational center featuring lectures, book signings, folk-art demonstrations, and pisanki-making classes.
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