Lena’s Could be Worth a Small Fortune, Petitioning for a Fact Finding Mission

When historical experts made the State of Wisconsin aware of $2 million dollars in savings by restoring the Steel Bridge instead of building a new replacement, the tone of the conversation took an abrupt turnaround.

Lena's Sip & Chat in Egg Harbor, WI slated for the wrecking ballOur SignOn Petition: The Village of Egg Harbor legislators should undertake a complete study that includes all of the options and costs to build or repurpose the existing 1935 landmark building once known as Lena’s Sip & Chat. The evaluation should also consider public sentiment as well as the opinion of experts in Wisconsin’s historical architecture. Click to add your name and comments…

With their eyes firmly fixed on a fundraising campaign and their minds set on ridding the village of an “eye-sore,” local leaders in the Village of Egg Harbor may be about to shoot themselves in the foot, by extinguishing major funding resources before they even begin. Perhaps the building once known as Lena’s Sip & Chat is currently an eye-sore, but in 1935 when it opened for business as the Carmody Hotel, it was seen as one of the most elegant new structures to grace this small Wisconsin town. Eighty years later, it remains rock solid with no immanent signs of structural decay.

Because of this, experts at the Wisconsin State Historical Society would be quite interested in assisting the village in evaluating the newly acquired property. If they can be permitted to work with the village, a plan that includes restoration and refurbishment of the building might also provide vast sums of grant funding and other programmatic forms of assistance to the project.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the 106 Group are recognized national leaders in helping communities benefit from efforts to foster Cultural Tourism. The 106 Group is a team of more than 20 individual experts in cultural resource management, planning and interpretation. They have not only national, but also international experience working on heritage sites, planning projects, and archaeological jobs, assisting communities to promote and interpret a place’s cultural heritage in a way that sustains or enhances the character of that place.

Typically, there are six key strategic development components:

  • economic development,
  • community,
  • interpretation,
  • resources,
  • site planning,
  • and marketing.

The result is economic growth that promotes sustainable communities, new ways of expressing collective identity and the creation of one-of-a-kind places that people want to visit again and again.Village leaders and anyone interested in learning more will benefit from studying their findings in: Preserving Wisconsin’s Civic Legacy; A Guide to Rehabilitating and Reusing Local Government Properties. At the end of the document, Appendix A is entitled: Funding Sources and Incentives for Municipal Historic Preservation.

We feel that the Village of Egg Harbor is threatened with a huge loss if they are too quick with the wrecking ball – both cultural and economic. So, with the help of SignOn.org, we have established an online petition. In just a few days, more than 100 people have signed on, many leaving thoughtful comments. Readers are encouraged to add their names and comments at: signon.org/sign/save-historic-egg-harbor. We plan to deliver this petition to village leaders in the near future.

Gibraltar Town Board Supervisor Steve Sohns, the 147th signer says. “It is disappointing to see a landmark building removed, along with all of the history it holds. The wood work, the stage, when you walk in, it takes you back. It’s also sad to see another Door County township buy up Core downtown commercial property and take it off the tax roles. Community buildings do not need to be on main drags in towns, they just need to be within a short walking distance. Tourists (and locals) want to see “classic and unchanged” Door County. At the very least if the Village decides to keep this property, what better a use for this building, then for a Town History Center.”

Here are a few examples of what other local community members have to say…

“The ‘charm’ of Egg Harbor is in the history and attention to unique, historical architecture. Every building of interest includes a nod to historical roots… the old post office, the old grocery stores, Cupola House and Casey’s. The Alpine in its reflection of the past, brings third generation visitors year after year. Please, find a way to save Lena’s, a visible, important landmark…”Bonnie Cady

“I’m glad the Village has purchased the property and would like to have a multi-purpose building on it. But, a good review of the existing building (Lena’s Sip & Chat) needs to be done by someone with historic preservation expertise. And it appears there are many others who feel the same.”Mary “Casey” Martin

“The best part of living in Door County and being a native, is waking up in a historically profuse area, not some place where all the buildings we love are torn down to make more room for new retail. The appeal of Door County is the history. To remove it bit by bit, is a very fatal mistake, for once these places are gone, the people who would spend money in Door County will be too.”Danielle Bokelmann

and more…

“A city without old buildings is like a man without a memory. A village, without character and history, refreshes no one.”Fred Wittig

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