It’s been known by many names in its storied past. Olson’s, Breher’s Hardware, Erickson Hardware, Perkin’s Hardware & Gift Shop -- to as far back as Edward Lovdahl’s Saloon.
But the current owners have a new name for the building at 206 Jefferson Street South in Wadena, one that they hope will change again once a new business moves in.
Wadena Economic Development Director Dean Uselman calls it an "incubator space." It’s a place where a new business, not one currently in Wadena, will get a chance to get a start and grow, maybe even outgrow the space.
“We do have four interested parties interested in that space, all four would be new to Wadena,” Uselman said, during a regular city council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11. “The idea was to make this investment to bring someone new to Wadena. I would say within 60 days we should have a new business in that space.”
The Wadena Development Authority purchased the building last summer after noticing the building wasn’t selling, partially due to a long list of upgrades needed in order to make it a usable property again.
"If you looked at our downtown, it was probably our most blighted building," WDA board member Jeff Browne said. "What better way to use our funds."
He said the board used funds they have in their budget to remove the eyesore and create a good looking, usable space.
For much of this winter the building has been going through stages of demolition and remodeling. Two weeks ago crews from Alex Glass finished installation of new windows on the front of the building including covering the stained glass “HARDWARE” sign with a new pane of glass to protect it regardless if the next business is a hardware store or any store. The clean new look will be improving further as there are plans to sand blast the brick and sandstone as well as apply a fresh seal coat over that historic storefront providing for a finished look for many years to come. Previously the business had a wooden covering over the front of the first floor. The upper floor remains brick, but new windows installed will improve the efficiency of that portion, too.
The development authority has put in about $100,000 of their funds into the building, and Browne said he feels they can get that back when they find the right business to buy the building. A business would have use of the lower space for business and make further revenue renting out the upper portion.
The building isn't sold yet, Browne said, but he believes the board will come out well in the endeavor. In his three years with the development authority he said they have not done anything quite like this as opportunities like these are rare. If a new business hatches soon from this incubator, the board may be looking for another cozy place to start nesting.
Can you recall the names of these past businesses? The Wadena County Historical Society provided a list of the previous residents at 206 Jefferson Street South. They include:
- Edward Lovdahl Saloon, 1892-1902, owner Edward Lovdahl;
- Adams Shoe Store, 1904-1907, owner Anton Adams;
- Breher’s Hardware from 1908 – 1945, owner Frank Breher;
- Erickson Hardware, from 1945 – 1956, owner A.C. Erickson;
- Marshall Wells Store, from 1958-1958, owners Dean and Ruby Perkins;
- S&Q Hardware, 1959-1960, owners Dean and Ruby Perkins;
- Perkin’s Hardware & Gift Shop from 1961-1964, owners Dean and Ruby Perkins;
- Skalman Music Company, about 1965-1983, owner Paul Skalman then Merrill Skalman;
- Shoes Unlimited, 1988-1991, owner Marlin Olson.
The upper floor also housed singing, piano and organ music as well as Sandon's Beauty Salon until 1943.