Greendale - The conversion of the Grounds Building and Hose Tower into a community center will begin within a month. The building in the heart of the village, commonly called the Hose Tower, will include a kitchen, public restrooms and public meeting space for up to 100 people.
"We're finalizing our plan, and doing some prep work on the floor," said Ted Mainella, Greendale Historical Society president.
"We intend to have the building substantially complete by August," when the Village Days festival marks the 75th anniversary of Greendale's founding, he added. The village was one of three model suburbs built by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. The "greenbelt" communities, as they were known, were intended to be models of well-designed planned communities.
"I can think of no better way to celebrate that important milestone than to readapt this important building and convert it to community use," Mainella said. "We have a good building and a good community response."
The building was erected in 1939, near the Greendale Middle School at the west end of the municipal parking lot, and was originally home to the village's Department of Public Works. The Fire Department, located nearby, used the Hose Tower to dry fire hoses. The DPW used the building for storage for about 20 years, but vacated and cleaned out the structure last month, Mainella said.
The society already has raised more than $200,000 for the renovations and hopes to raise another $300,000, he said.
"We've had significant response from the business community," Mainella said. "Their in-kind contributions have made this project a certainty. Their work as put us over the top."
Among the businesses lending their expertise are Reichl Construction and Kerwin Homes.
"Reichl Construction is proud of our family's heritage in Greendale," Jack Reichl said. "We appreciate the opportunity to contribute construction management services for the project."
Jane Kerwin of Kerwin Homes has designed and built many homes in the area. She looks forward to working with other professionals, including Chris Caskey of Greendale-based Arrow Millwork & Cabinetry.
"I am very excited to be involved with the Greendale Historical Society and all the other partners," she said. "I look forward to helping them in adapting the historic Grounds Building and Hose Tower."
Mainella said the historical society is seeking donations from Greendale businesses, and will begin soliciting individual contributions later this month. Actress Jane Kaczmarek, a Greendale native and Greendale High School graduate, is the honorary fundraising chairwoman for the project.
According to Mainella, Kaczmarek's involvement began when she had a chance encounter at Gen. Mitchell International Airport with Bob DeRoche, a historical society board member.
"One thing led to another, and she agreed to lend her name," Mainella said. He added that Kaczmarek has donated $1,000 to the project, and there is a chance she may make a personal appearance to help the effort.
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