May 31, 2013
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joan Jones 920-563-2976
The Rock River Heritage Board has launched a survey to help determine the plans and uses for the Fort Atkinson Club, the former Masonic Lodge at 211 S. Water St. E. The survey has been developed by the Survey Research Center at U-W River Falls. Joan Jones, President of the Board, urging public participation in the survey, “ As we finalize our plans for the building as a multi-use community center, it is important that we have community support and ideas for its use. The Board believes this historic and unique building located on the Rock River could become a vibrant multi-use community center for Fort Atkinson.”
Rooms on all three floors have a variety of potential uses for businesses, organizations and for individuals, including cooking art and wellness classes. Recreational use could include weddings, theater/dance/film performances and meetings. Many rooms have windows overlooking the river and access to the riverside.
The lower level has a two lane bowling alley, a catering kitchen and a 1400 sq. ft. meeting hall (capacity 118). The main floor has an 840 sq. ft. meeting room with a fire place (capacity 50). A 240 sq.ft solarium (capacity 10), a 650 sq. ft. meeting room/dining room (capacity 40) and a kitchen. The second floor has a theater like room with a barrel vaulted ceiling of 1650 sq. ft. (capacity 138).
Two architectural studies of the exterior and the interior have determined that the building is solid.
The Fort Atkinson Club was built in 1912-1913 by the business men of the community. It was primarily a men’s club, although women could use the building on Wednesdays. There are accounts of parties, theatrical performances, dances, a bowling league (there are still bowling alleys in the lower floor), and even a wrestling match (admission $1.00). In 1931, the middle of the Depression, the building was sold to the Masons.
The Masons occupied the the building until the early 1990’s. The Masons, Eastern Star ladies, youth groups – – DeMolay and Rainbow Girls made the Lodge a busy place with meetings, card parties, dances, ice cream socials and style shows. It was an important part of the social life of the community.
In the 1990’s the building was sold by the Masons, and although there were many ideas for its use, it remained empty until purchased by the Rock River Board in 2011.
The Rock River Board members are Joan Jones, Rachel Nelan, Jim Vance, John McKenzie, Jim Nelson, Steve Tesmer, and Cynthia Holt.
Access to the Survey is www.fortatkinsonclub.com. Both the general public and businesses and organizations are being strongly encouraged to take the survery, which only takes a few minutes. The survey will be available through Sunday, June 16.