Solon Springs spruces up downtownJames “Pat” and Patty Cosgrove remember the days when the village hall in Solon Springs doubled as a movie theater. Growing up in Solon Springs, they remember chairs lined up facing the stage as the projector clicked behind them on the upper floor of the 1929 center of village government.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
James “Pat” and Patty Cosgrove remember the days when the village hall in Solon Springs doubled as a movie theater.
Growing up in Solon Springs, they remember chairs lined up facing the stage as the projector clicked behind them on the upper floor of the 1929 center of village government.
“They brought the chairs in every Wednesday and Thursday, and we paid 12 cents to get in if we were kids and 35 cents if you were old,” Patty Cosgrove said. “And the guy would put pans of ice on the floor and run fans over them because it got so hot in here in the summer.”
Today, village offices have moved to the Solon Springs Community Center. However, the old village hall remains a vital part of downtown Solon Springs and a center for the community that houses the Joan Salmen Memorial Library, a branch of the Superior Public Library, Head Start and a children’s playgroup. In addition, the stage continues to provide Solon Springs’ students with a place to rehearse plays.
Air conditioning has replaced fans and ice to cool the auditorium, but as the historic two-story structure draws more users, a small group of residents has launched a fundraising campaign to fix up the old brick building.
It’s part of a bigger effort to spruce up the downtown.
“We’re going to have a group of people go right through the downtown and weed, and weed whack, and plant flowers, and we’re going to get that post office looking good,” said Patty Cosgrove, one of four people serving on a committee created to make it happen. Plans include placing recycling bins near Ole’s IGA and getting rid of trash cans placed beside park benches on Main Street.
“Can you imagine sitting down for a sandwich next to those?” Cosgrove said.
However, she said, the fundraising effort is primarily to spruce up the historic village hall, constructed in 1929.
So far, the group has raised about $4,200 in the effort to revitalize the building. The goal is to raise $15,000 to replace sidewalks, build a retaining wall and fix up the faded eaves, putty windows and replace aging screens.
Donations of paint and aluminum for are helping with the effort.
Sidewalks were laid this week. In the next few weeks, the group is enlisting the help of inmates from the Gordon Correctional Facility to scrape and paint windows and power wash the building. If there’s enough time during the week the crew from the correctional facility are working, Patty Cosgrove hopes they can move inside and begin work on the interior of the building.
“What we want to do is try to bring the whole downtown into a coordinating color type of thing,” she said. “We want to make this so the upstairs is more usable for more people because there is such an overflow from the community center. There aren’t enough places for people to do things.”
While the school district used the upper floor for its four-year-old kindergarten program years ago, the program moved to the school, leaving the upper floor largely unused until a couple years ago, said James Cosgrove said.
“It started with a couple and now there’s quite a few more,” he said. “It just keeps adding on.”
The entire ground floor of the building houses the library, which has been hugely popular with a circulation of more than 25,000 items in the village of 576 people, according to the U.S. Census.
“The main reason we’re working so hard is because we have no place else to put the library,” Patty Cosgrove said.
However, that has a ripple effect for downtown Solon Springs. The library draws many to the village.
Library circulation numbers bear that out. While the town and village of Solon Springs account for nearly 17,000 items circulated, surrounding communities account for the rest.
“When that parking lot is full, people are using the bank, the store,” Patty Cosgrove said. “And it isn’t just Solon Springs people. They come from all over.”