By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — We can now add “library” to the long list of businesses that have been housed in the building at the corner of Menomonie and South Holly Street in Elk Mound.
The Elk Mound Community Center Committee has been awarded a $130,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to remodel the old Laundromat building for use as a library.
The community center committee held a construction kick-off on August 12, and the new library is expected to be open in December.
“It’s very exciting. The people in Elk Mound have done a fantastic job. I didn’t think it would happen this fast. They went out and raised some money to re-do this building. I’m excited about it,” said Ted Stark, director of the Menomonie Public Library.
The Elk Mound library currently operating out of the village hall is a satellite facility of the Menomonie Public Library.
As of February, the library in Elk Mound spent $16,500 annually for the circulation clerk and courier service and had an average circulation of between 325 and 350 per month.
Patrons of the Elk Mound satellite library can order materials from the Menomonie Public Library.
The new 1,200-square-foot library in the old Laundromat building will feature a section of children’s materials, a small lounge and reading area, a small circulating collection of books as well as magazines and newspapers.
The library building also will include a community center.
“It will be more like a real library. It will have access to the Internet. The materials will come from (the Menomonie collection) and new materials (that are purchased),” Stark said.
The library began operating out of the Elk Mound village hall last year.
So far, the community center committee has raised $150,000 of the $193,150 total project cost, said Andy Peterson, village president and a member of community center committee.
Committee members will continue to raise funds while construction is taking place, he said.
“We will try to use as many contractors from town as we can,” noted Kathy Peterson, another member of the community center committee.
Volunteers also will contribute some of the labor needed to remodel the building, she added.
“It’s a great way to repurpose an old building,” Kathy Peterson said.
The committee will be working on obtaining bids in the next few weeks, and after Labor Day, construction will start in earnest, Andy Peterson said.
The roof will be done first, he said.
Cement block walls inside of the building will be removed along with a concrete section in one part of the building where the washing machines were located.
Volunteers have already put in many hours to begin cleaning out the building, Kathy Peterson said.
The new library in Elk Mound “will be good for the whole county. It will be a cost-savings,” Andy Peterson said.
Dunn County spends about $80,000 per year to pay Eau Claire County for library materials that are picked up in Eau Claire County by Dunn County residents.
In addition to the $130,000 Otto Bremer Foundation grant, the Elk Mound Community Center Committee has received a $5,000 grant from the Dunn Energy and currently has applications pending for other grants.
In February of this year, the Elk Mound Village Board approved purchasing the building from property owner Swati Lall for $10,000 with the understanding that the community center committee would pay back the village by the end of the year.
The committee initially had planned to build a new library and community center on village-owned property directly east of the new village hall in Elk Mound.
The estimated cost for a new library and community center was between $750,000 and $1 million.
More than ten years ago when the Village of Elk Mound was developing the Smart Growth comprehensive plan, village residents indicated on surveys and in town hall meetings that they wanted a library and community center in Elk Mound.
More recently, during the ten-year update for the comprehensive plan, village residents said they were still interested in having a library and community center in Elk Mound.
Although no one really seems to know when the building at the corner of Menomonie and South Holly was originally built, according to the “History of Elk Mound, WI” by Marvin and Charlotte Cartwright (2004), Herbert G. Flick bought out the stock of the W.H. Kackman garage in 1922 and established the Elk Mound Auto Company in the building that will soon house Elk Mound’s brand new library. The 40-foot by 60-foot building included an office, salesroom, storage room and repair shop. The auto company, which sold Paige, Jewett, Dodge and Chevrolet cars, also carried a full line of accessories, including a variety of tires, such as Springfield, Miller and Oldfield.
Three Bradshaw brothers (Clifford, Francis and Leslie) rented the building after that and repaired cars, but also did body work and sold gasoline.
The east end of the building, at the time the Bradshaws were operating their business, housed a blacksmith shop owned by Herman Tilleson. Herman, a bachelor, lived in an apartment above the blacksmith shop.
William Moltzan purchased the building in 1946 from Tilleson and operated Bill’s Garage until he sold the building in 1956 to Ed Brown, who operated “The Brown Jug” museum for several years and then sold the building to Victor Jenson in the early 1960s.
Jenson sold the building to Clarence Gruber in 1966. Gruber used the building to store tires and oil and parked his bulk gasoline truck inside.
In more recent years, the building was used for a beauty shop, Laundromat, and an apartment.
The building project budget includes $13,500 for a new roof; $6,500 to replace the windows; $10,000 to replace the wiring; $20,000 to replace the plumbing and add two restrooms; $25,000 to insulate, Sheetrock, finish and paint the interior walls; $10,000 each for a new ceiling and to install new lights; $20,000 for new flooring; $15,000 each for HVAC and library equipment and furnishings.