Glen Erin Golf Club will cap off work later this spring on a new $2 million banquet and event hall that will give hundreds of guests a bird’s-eye view of the golf course’s tree-lined 18th hole.
In fact, if they want, the bride and groom can get married at the green of the 18th hole.
Rob Vega, Glen Erin’s general manager, said the new Celtic House, a 12,000-square-foot wedding hall rising on a hillside above the golf course, should be ready in time for July weddings.
When completed, the Celtic House will offer perhaps the largest wedding event space in the area. It will have room for up to 500 guests in the 9,000-square-foot banquet space and more room on a side patio and a huge, open-air deck, both of which overlook the 18th hole.
Vega said Glen Erin decided to parlay its scenic surroundings into the wedding business in part to add a year-round revenue stream. The wedding venue will double the number of employees who now work at the privately run golf course, he said.
Located on a glacial hill in the middle of the course, the Celtic House will feature a stony, traditional Gaelic Irish look that complements the existing clubhouse. Its triangular ends, capped at the peaks with a single square helm, face east and west.
The west side offers views of a wooded expanse of the golf course, and that’s where crews Tuesday were setting footings for a deck that will hang over the hillside. It will seat more than 100 people and shade a lower area that will accommodate 120 more.
The upper and lower deck areas will be equipped with an outdoor sound system and electronics to allow couples to host their wedding ceremonies at the 18th hole.
From the deck area, guests could reach the bride and groom with a well-placed chip shot.
Then there’s the view.
“When we were deciding on the layout, we noticed the sunset on that side. We decided that’d be the money view,” Vega said.
The Celtic House is still a few months from completion, but it’s already got about 20 weddings booked between July and October, Marketing Manager Katy Cook said.
Cook, a former event manager at the Geneva National Resort & Club, came on board at Glen Erin in February. Within a few weeks, the Celtic House will have a banquet manager and a chef who Vega said is from Chicago.
The Celtic House already has its wedding menu planned, with appetizers including asparagus and goat cheese pastries and entrees such as a New York strip steak with cognac peppercorn sauce.
Vega said the venue has booked a number of other events, from conferences to craft beer festivals. However, brides and grooms will be its focus.
“It’s weddings, plain and simple,” Vega said.
Vega said Glen Erin had looked at smaller-scale plans for a wedding venue, but it found demand in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois for an events venue that could fit 400 to 600 people and had an in-house kitchen and a setting that’s rural and scenic.
The golf course’s closest neighbors are farm fields, and the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport is located to the north.
Vega and Cook said Chicago couples have gravitated to the new venue, even as marketing for the Celtic House has just gotten off the ground. Vega said size matters, but it’s also a singular, picturesque location that sells itself.
“It’s the ability to kind of be off the beaten path. A lot of similar venues in town are either right off the Interstate, and you’re next door to a McDonald’s or a fire department or a main drag,” he said.
“You have your dedicated parking here. The golf course and hills and trees surround you. You have a dedicated building, so you’re not sharing a hallway with the wedding down the hall.”
His murals explode off walls with ferocious energy and seem to draw their strength from the urban life around them.
Consider the little girl making a funny face, her hands raised like lions’ paws and her braided hair swinging outside the frame.
Or the mural of Derek Jeter, his glove hand extended and the elbow of his other arm a compressed spring, ready to hurl the ball in his hand.
Or even the image of a taciturn star of a hip hop duo.
It’s all work by Jeff Henriquez of Newark, New Jersey. In June, the 45-year-old will transform a wall in downtown Janesville into a tribute to Black Hawk, one of the leaders of the Sauk American Indian tribe. His canvas will be the brick wall on the north side of the building at 27 S. Main St., which is home to the restaurant 27 South.
The work is being sponsored by Nigella Ryan and the owners of the building, George and Karen Collas.
Ryan got the idea when she was visiting her sister in Boston and they took a day trip to Salem, Massachusetts.
“Salem is going through something similar to the ARISE in their downtown,” Ryan said.
There, the North Shore Community Development Council created the Punto Urban Art Museum. In 2017, the museum hired artists to create massive outdoor murals as part of a neighborhood revitalization project.
It was there that she saw Henriquez’s work.
Henriquez was born in Lynn, Massachusetts. He received a degree in painting from Bradford College and attended graduate school at Howard University but later dropped out. He works as a full time artist in a variety of mediums, including spray paint and pen and ink.
Henriquez plans to create his image of Black Hawk by combining the handful of known images of the Sauk leader and then make his own depiction. He has sent Ryan five mock-ups of the mural and she picked the one she liked best. He will be working in spray paint.
Henriquez will start work June 13. Weather permitting, he could be done in eight days.
This will be his first visit to the Midwest, although he assured a Gazette reporter he had “been in rural areas.”
It will be a change for him. Most of his work is on walls in Brooklyn and other boroughs of New York City. How will it translate in Janesville, where the energy is entirely different?
“When we’re talking about street art, we’re talking about muralism, we talking about fine art muralism. When we’re talking about the rebellious nature that artists have—that’s a blessing and a threat at the same time,” Henriquez said.
But he also knows that an artist can “break all the barriers without breaking anything.”
It’s all about being in accord with the space you’re in and the people you’re with, he said.
"If you show love and respect to your environment and make your artwork connect to the people in your environment, that’s the first and best way to get people to open their eyes and mind to new ideas," Henriquez said.
Ryan also hopes Janesville resident Billy Bob Grahn will do some drumming at the site. Grahn sang in his native Ojibwe at the opening ceremonies of Chicagoland Speedway’s NASCAR race in 2018.
Melvin “Mike” Bouton
Roger F. Deets
Marilyn F. Finn
Karen E. Hamlett
Gerald L. Rowland
Daniel P. Sheridan
Shirley A. Thoreson
Gene A. Tiegs
Betty J. Tueting