The committee charged with spending $3.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds in Superior that have been allotted to historic preservation has made their recommendations.  Those recommendations came from a charge to categorize and narrow down the list prior to sending the measure off to the Superior City Council for a final vote.

That list of recommended projects that have historical significance includes many familiar buildings and items in the city.

Top of the list is a building that is familiar to anyone who has ever traveled along Hammond Avenue in the area just to the north of the Superior-Douglas County Government Center:  The Carnegie Library.  According to details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the building is "the first of 63 Carnegie libraries built in Wisconsin".  It was "completed in 1902 and served the public until 1991, when the library relocated to" its present site at the corner of Belknap and Tower.

Almost since its closure, public pressure has mounted on what to do with the historically-significant building.  Years of non-use has left it in pretty rough shape these days. So rough that "it's at risk of not being there much longer due to its condition", unless something is done.

Fairlawn Mansion museum in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

What's stymied any advancement on improvements at the Carnegie Library - both historically and currently - is that it's privately owned and "the city doesn't have a plan for it".  That's why Superior Mayor Jim Paine has suggested that the city but the building and the site and then work towards mitigating the water issues, roof issues, and generally shoring up the building for future development and historic preservation.

Another familiar building on the list of recommendations by the Historic Preservation Committee is the Princess Theatre on Tower Avenue.  Many remember it's last incarnation as Frankie's Tavern.

Local historians and preservationists hope to someday return the Princess Theater back to it's elegant origins.  The building is currently owned by Douglas County.

In addition to the top two recommendations, the committee also included a punch-list of other potential buildings and sites for possible use of the federal funds. Many of those buildings are also familiar to anyone who's lived in the area for any length of time.  Here's a brief run-down:

  • Bayside Warehouse Building - recently "gutted by fire in January".  Developers are looking towards using the site as an "outdoor venue for weddings....concerts, and other activities".
  • Fairlawn Mansion
  • Hammond Park water fountain - although the committee determined that this "might be a better fit for the parks and recreation commission".
  • old City Hall building at Hammond and Broadway - funding for the addition of an elevator as a means of "encourag[ing] development".
  • Old Fire Hall and Police Museum
  • USS Meteor

So what's next?  The recommendations from the Superior Historic Preservation Committee will advance to the agenda of the Superior City Council.  Following review and discussion, the council will ultimately decide how much of the $3.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds is allocated and how much each project would receive.


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