Band shell receives needed repairs

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Work on replacing the iconic Rec Park band shell roof is underway.

The Rum River Community Foundation recently accepted a bid from Milaca-based BAAS Construction Inc. to make the repairs. Last week, crews had already began the work.

It is the foundation’s first step to “Help Save The Milaca Band Shell,” the name of the group of local residents and activists attempting to raise donations to fund the project.

The first step will include new decking and a slate-colored roofing system, the color originally specified on band shell’s original blueprints recently uncovered by local resident Jerry Jacobson in the Elmer L. Andersen Library archives at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“The Rum River Community Foundation recognizes the repairs and renovation to the Milaca Band Shell as an important quality of life issue for area residents and is taking a leadership role in raising funds for this project,” stated a recent release from the organization.

All funding for the work has come from donations and the purchase of engraved paving stones that will be installed in the future walkways at the band shell.

The next construction phase is expected to be extensive stone and masonry work, along with tuck-pointing, which will start once an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 is raised.

Additional work planned includes upgrading the electrical system, the addition of an outdoor sound system and landscape improvements.

The structure was built as a WPA construction project from 1937-1938 in an effort to improve area employment during the Great Depression.

After 75 years of use, however, the band shell is in critical need of repairs due to water damage from a leaking roof, peeling paint, crumbling plaster and tuck-pointing. The foundation requires repair and many of the facade’s field stones have been removed. The total cost of the reconstruction project is estimated to be $200,000.

During his research, Jacobson found a letter in the files at the Milaca Area Historical Society. In the letter, the band shell’s architect, Carl F. Buetow, noted the 1929 Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles was the basis for his design.

More information about Jacobson’s research and how to donate to the Help Save The Milaca Band Shell project can be found on the foundation’s website at www.rumrivercommunityfoundation.org. Donations can also be directed to P.O. Box 415 255 First St. E., Milaca. For more information, call 320-983-3141.

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