Each year the Historic Preservation Committee of the Brown County Historical Society presents awards to businesses, organizations and individuals for their efforts to preserve, restore, and adapt for reuse, vintage and historic buildings in Brown County. These awards are presented at the Society’s annual meeting each February.
The following is a listing of our most recent honorees, the 2016 recipients of the BCHS Historic Preservation Awards:
Gather at Broadway, Green Bay
As owners of Elite Tent Rentals, Tony Ehrbar and Matt Sherman wanted to expand beyond weather permitted events, and develop the capability of a full service year-round event venue for weddings, parties, and corporate gatherings. Around the same time, former Green Bay resident Jyll Everman was pursuing a career as a chef and caterer in California, but now with a family of two young sons, she and her husband Tommy (a California native) were considering family lifestyle choices. Tony had remained friends with Jyll since high school, and had discussed his business plans with her for some time. During visits to Green Bay, the prospect of nearby family and good schools appealed more and more to Jyll and Tommy. Finally, when the old Jones Motor building became available, Jyll and Tommy decided to move to Green Bay to help Tony and Matt open Gather on Broadway. The building renovation makes good use of the cream-colored brick walls, the flood of natural light from the storefront, and the exposed wood roof deck and structural steel trusses. While being a full service event center is the primary focus, Gather also plans community-type gatherings, such as team-building events, cooking classes and exhibitions, and farmers markets. The warm and inviting assembly space is a welcome addition to the Broadway district.
Leonardo da Vinci School for Gifted Learners, Green Bay
The 1929 St. Francis Xavier Cathedral School and the 1938 Convent were both designed by the noted Green Bay architectural firm Foeller and Schober in the Tudor Revival style, with styling that reflects historic precedents as wells as affiliations to the other buildings in the Cathedral District. After the convent fell out of use, it was occupied by the newspaper offices of the Green Bay News-Chronicle from 1982 until the papers closing in 2005. With the school already having been closed, both buildings were unused with uncertain futures. In the meantime, in 2013, the Green Bay Area Public School District started a gifted learners program for 130 students. With the program expected to double in size the next year, the District decided in 2014 to purchase and renovate the former Cathedral school building to house the new K-8 Leonardo da Vinci School for Gifted Learners. Modifications included accessibility and technology upgrades, a two-story addition to house a “thinking studio” (21st century learning space), a conference room, elevator, and a computer area. The School District worked to retain and restore original architectural features, such as new full size energy efficient windows (to replace windows that had been partially in-filled in the 1970s). In addition, original ceramic tile on the corridor walls and floors were retained, stairway balustrades were reconstructed to replicate the original while meeting current codes, and decorative plaster at the gymnasium entrance (which had been painted over) was restored. To accommodate further student growth, in 2015, the District purchased the adjacent former convent building. While the exterior needed little work, a corridor was constructed to join the two buildings, and the interior was completely renovated to create four new classrooms. The renovated buildings now serve as a modern and fully equipped learning center for Green Bay students.
Pete’s Garage, Green Bay
Kurt and Tyson Schwiesow are Green Bay eye doctors, but also huge outdoor enthusiasts. They had been customers of Peddle-N-Paddle for years, and when the opportunity arose, they bought the business. While considering options for relocating, they learned that the Scanhome building on Broadway was up for sale. The building, which consists of a 1936 single story structure to the north and a 1905 three-story structure to the south, was originally the showroom, repair garage, and offices for the Green Bay branch of the International Harvester Company. More recently, in addition to Scanhome, the buildings housed a carpet warehouse and retail stores. Interestingly, the upper floors of the office building were relatively untouched since the IH days. While the space was larger than what the Schwiesows were considering, its prior use as an IH service garage appealed to them, and the availability of historic preservation tax credits persuaded them to purchase the building in 2015. Owners and restorers of homes in historic Green Bay neighborhoods, the brothers have a great appreciation for historic preservation, and make the same commitment to this building. In the garage, the large original skylights were reconstructed, the large curved bowstring trusses were re-exposed, historic plaster walls were repaired, and original concrete floors were polished. A mezzanine event and lounge space overlooks the sales floor. Pete’s Garage opened in April 2016, stocking bicycles, kayaks, ski gear, outerwear, and triathlon gear. The store is named after their grandfather Pete Lorenzen, who operated a Harley-Davidson motorcycle garage in the early 1900s in Chicago. For the office building, which Kurt calls an undiscovered treasure, interior and exterior renovations are eventually planned, and the first floor remains retail. Pete’s Garage is an exciting addition to the vibrant Broadway district of Green Bay.