THE RESTORATION OF THE
1905 TIGERTON VILLAGE HALL
(Shown above to the left is the original 1905 Village Hall as it appeared in this photo dated 1907. To the right is the restored building as it looks today)
A Brief History of the Old Tigerton Village Hall Building
A lot has happened to the building that is commonly known as the Old Village Hall in downtown Tigerton since construction was first begun in 1905. When the building was first completed, it was the crown jewel of the village of Tigerton. Its architecture featured beautiful brick archways over the doors and windows. This simple, unique architecture extended all the way to the ball on the tip of the lightning rod, which was perched on top of the ornate bell tower. The entire structure seemed to be reaching for the sky as it towered over the village. But time took its toll on this building, and by the early 1980’s, it was being used for nothing more than storage. As the elements continued to take its toll on the aging building, Tigerton Main Street stepped forward in 2003 and purchased the building in order to save it from the wrecking ball, and hopefully, restore it once again to be the crown jewel of our village. Now, after more than three years of hard work and a whole lot of money, the building has again risen to its former prominence in our village.
H.R. Swanke, who was the owner and co-founder of Tigerton Lumber Company, built the building in 1905. It cost the village $4000 for the land and the building, for which they took out a loan from Mr. Swanke, with an interest rate of 5% for ten years.
The building housed the Tigerton Public Library and the Village Clerk’s Office upstairs and the Tigerton Fire Department downstairs. The horses to pull the fire wagons were kept at the Tigerton Lumber Company barn behind what is now Gwidt Pharmacy.
In the early 1940s, the bell tower was removed from the building due to structural problems. Sometime before that, the original garage doors were removed and the doorway heightened in order to make room for the new motorized fire truck, which the village had purchased. This signaled the end to the horse drawn fire wagons.
In 1969, the Village leased the building next door to the old Village Hall and the library and the clerk’s office were moved there. This was supposedly done for accessibility reasons, because of the steep stairway and because the library needed more room. It was also stated that there was concern for the stability of the floor in the upstairs of the building. The fire station remained on the main floor of the building and the upstairs was used for storage.
On October 27, 1979, ground was broken on a new Tigerton Community Center, which would house the village clerk’s office, library, fire station and Senior Center. When the new building was completed, the bell was moved from the Old Village Hall to in front of the new Community Center. After the fire station moved to the new Community Center in 1980, the old Village Hall building was used only for village storage.
During the late 1990s, the village decided to try to sell the Old Village Hall building in an effort to see if someone would restore and save it. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the building had several different owners who wanted to convert and restore it for such uses as a microbrewery, machine shop, and restaurant. None of these plans worked out, and the condition of the building continued to deteriorate. By this time, the foundation on the west side was caving in, the wall was bowing severely and the roof was leaking badly. It looked like demolition of the building was imminent, before the building collapsed by its self.
In 2003, Tigerton Main Street stepped into the picture and decided to tackle the restoration project. They set out on a fundraising campaign to raise enough money to put on a new roof and restore the foundation. This was successful and these projects, as well as putting up a new bell tower, were completed. At this point, the building was once again deemed to be stable. Now the work of raising the rest of the money needed for the complete restoration could begin. After a couple of years, and thousands of volunteer hours and several grants, the money was raised, and in July of 2006, the exterior brick restoration began. Soon after, the general contractor began work on the windows and the interior. We knew at this point that the building would again be the pride of downtown Tigerton.
From left to right, the new bell tower is lifted to the top of the 1905 Tigerton Village Hall building in 2003.. The second picture shows how the building looked for about the next three years as Main Street worked to raise the rest of the money to complete the restoration. The third and fourth pictures show the brick restoration work in the summer of 2006, including rebuilding the arch over the garage door. The interior work was done though the winter and spring of 2006-2007, as shown in the fifth picture. The last picture shows one of the hand-made doors for the new arched garage door. It would take nearly another four years, but the building is now fully restored.
The project was completed in the spring of 2007 and the building has once again been returned to its original glory and prominence. Even though much has changed over the past 100+ years, overall, the most important things have remained the same. We see that in almost everything we do, and especially in the life of this building. Thanks to everyone who has donated toward, helped out, or just supported Main Street in our endeavor to restore the Old Village Hall. You all have played a very important role in helping Tigerton Main Street save a historic Tigerton landmark.
The restored building currently houses the Tigerton Main Street office. It is available to be rented out for community events or other activities. There are also two small offices upstairs which are available for rent. We want to building to continue to be the center of activity in our community, like it had been for much of its life.
A DVD documenting the entire restoration process is available from Tigerton Main Street, Inc. For more information or to purchase DVDs, please call the Main Street office at (715) 535-2110. Anyone wishing to make a donation toward the maintenance and upkeep of the 1905 Village Hall or to Tigerton Main Street, Inc. should also contact the number above. All donations are tax deductible.
For a complete list of donors to the project, please click on the following link: 1905 Village Hall Donor List