Family welcomes community at open house
By Angie Landsverk
Members of the community viewed plans for restoring Danes Hall at an open house Saturday, April 8.
“I’m just amazed at the turnout. It was hard to plan. It could be our family and the newspaper, or it could be a lot of people. And it turned out to be a lot of people,” said Jack Koehler.
Koehler, along with brothers Joe and Michael, formed Danes Home LLC earlier this year, following last August’s purchase of the building at 301 N. Main St.
Their family has a connection to the building and intends to turn the Danes Hall back into a social and community meeting place.
The building’s lower level will be a cafe and Danish bakery.
Koehler said they are in discussions with different people regarding the use of that level.
The main level of Danes Hall will be available for meetings and small events.
A kitchen facility will be built on that level for use by caterers.
The building’s 2,400-square-foot ballroom will be restored, following the removal of the stairs once added from the main floor to the ballroom.
That space will be available for such things as wedding receptions and music recitals.
The addition of an elevator will make the entire building handicap accessible.
The plan also includes new mechanicals and restrooms.
Terry Martin is the architect for the project.
He was pleased by the number of people who attended the open house.
“I got here at 10:30 a.m., and there were already people walking through,” said Martin.
The April 8 event was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Plans for the preservation and restoration of the building have been submitted to the state historical society, he said.
The historical society is reviewing the plans for state tax credits.
The plans will then be sent to the National Park Service for the review for federal tax credits.
The Danes Hall is on both the State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
Martin is also just about ready to submit his plans to the state for the building code review.
“I’m hoping the review will be done in June,” he said.
Construction could then begin.
Martin said the largest aspects of the project will be the removal of the staircase added in the early 1990s and the addition of the elevator and new mechanicals.
He described the rest of the project as cosmetic.
Some bricks will need to be repaired and painted.
The roof will be repainted.
The building’s interior will be painted with new colors, and the wood floors will be refinished.
“People are so excited,” Martin said of the project.
He said they are pleased the Danes Hall will not become apartments or a warehouse.
He is excited to be a part of the project.
“I’ve been waiting for this project for 38 years,” said Martin, who lived and worked in Waupaca for 32 years and restored numerous buildings on Main Street.
Pat Phair, a member of the city’s Plan Commission, said Danes Hall is a focal point in downtown Waupaca.
“I’m excited for the project,” he said. “I think it will not only draw people to North Main Street but become a destination for people who love history.”
With the city planning for the reconstruction and redevelopment of Main Street, Phair hopes the Danes Hall project signifies the direction the community is going.
“Everybody is just so amazed that something is being done with the place. They’re happy to see it going back (to what it was),” Koehler said. “We’re just happy that the community’s behind us.”