Elkhorn structures could see historical recognition
On Aug. 19, the State Historic Preservation Review Board will consider listing the two buildings on the State Register of Historic Places and forward a recommendation to list them on the national register.
The Elkhorn Preservation Commission nominated the Elkhorn band shell at Sunset Park and the Elkhorn Municipal Building for historic listings last year.
Jim Draeger, deputy state historic preservation director, said his office completed a pre-evaluation of the historic significance of the sites, and the board will consider its findings.
The 1926 band shell was built for $5,000 when those types of music venues were going up everywhere in the country, according to various sources on the history of the structure.
“It was built during the band shell craze of the 1920s,” Draeger said.
The band shell was dedicated on Aug. 11, 1926, to a throng of 4,000, according to historical accounts of the event. The venue originally was at Courthouse Square Park, but the 44-ton structure was moved to Sunset Park in 1962 to make room for a new courthouse in the center of town.
What’s rare about the Elkhorn band shell is it’s said to be perfectly acoustic and projects quality sound to the audience.
The 1931 municipal building is a great representation of the art deco architectural styling of the time, Draeger said. The building cost about $73,000 and the lot cost $20,000.
The building was home to the light and water commission and had a display room of appliances and electrical goods. Also in the building were a lounge with a fireplace and a 600-seat auditorium that could be converted into a dance floor and a fully operational kitchen.
By being included on the state registry, the city can use the expertise of the Wisconsin State Historical Society to maintain and repair the structures without upsetting their historic natures, Draeger said.
“The biggest advantage is community pride,” Draeger said. “It’s likely to help people with fundraising for the sites.”
If approved by the board, the two buildings will be added to the state register Aug. 19.
The nominations will then continue to the National Parks Service for consideration to the National Registry of Historic Places, Draeger said.
The parks service has four criteria for admission to the national listing. A candidate must meet one of those criteria.
The four criteria are whether a historical event happened on the site, an individual who made a contribution to the community was affiliated with the site, the architecture is of significant historic nature or it’s an archaeological site, Draeger said.
The Elkhorn Municipal Building represents the historic development of government in the community, he said.
“It tells a story of government in the 20th Century and how government took on more and more public services over time,” Draeger said. “It’s great example of art deco architecture of the time.”
The parks service takes about six months to decide about placing structures on the national registry, he said.