A prominent downtown Janesville building is undergoing a face-lift that city officials said will comply with a city repair order—and then some.
Crews the last few weeks have been erecting multi-level metal scaffolding for façade repairs on the south side of The Venue, a converted event hall in the three-story brick and wood property formerly known as the Rock County Appliance building at Court and Main streets.
Britten Langfoss, who operates The Venue and whose family owns the 150-year-old building, said the work has been planned since her family in 2015 bought the building and tackled an interior build out and addition to revamp the property into a wedding and event hall.
Langfoss said the city last year issued a “notice of violation” for peeling paint and rotting wood on the south and east sides of the building, which was a former lodge and a church sanctuary. By November, Langfoss said, crews will repair and tuck point the original brick on the building’s south side and replace and repaint ornate woodwork around windows and along the building’s mansard roof line.
City Building Director Tom Clippert confirmed the city noted violations and issued orders to correct last year. He said he gave the owners extra time to make fixes because it has gotten more difficult for historic building owners throughout the region to find contractors who can tackle large-scale restoration projects quickly.
Certified Parts Corporation, which is owned by developer Jim Grafft, owns The Venue. Langfoss is Grafft’s daughter.
Clippert said plans Langfoss submitted for work permits at The Venue are much more substantial than what the city would have ordered for corrections.
“They’re going way beyond what that violation notice identified,” Clippert said, calling the work a “complete exterior restoration.”
Langfoss acknowledged the city orders were a nudge to get the project going, although she said it took months of scouring the state to find contractors who weren’t booked and could handle a large-scale, exterior renovation of a historic property.
She said the project also involves replacing the slate shingles on the building’s mansard roof, which are original to the building and at some point had been painted.
“The building is 150 years old. That’s about the length that slate lasts. So the timing was right, as long as we had scaffolding up, to do a full replacement,” Langfoss said.
During the work, Langfoss said, people will be able to pass on the sidewalk along Court Street below the construction scaffolding.
Langfoss said a lot of people have been curious about the work at The Venue. She said that along with heavy cranes moving along the river on two bridge projects and a new hotel nearing completion on the river’s west side, work at The Venue creates a bustling construction scene along the riverfront that seems more like Chicago or Milwaukee than downtown Janesville.
“One of my friends said it’s a big city feel now,” Langfoss said.