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The Greendale Gazebo, from Dream to Reality!

Week#58: A grass roots coalition of individuals and organizations create a new ‘gathering place’ in Greendale.

History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.

History and Folklore!

Drive down Broad Street in Greendale during the summer and chances are you’ll see activity around the . You might see a wedding, a group taking pictures, a concert, a walking event, people enjoying lunch on the steps or visitors checking out the names on bricks on the floor.  Newcomers to the Village and even those of us who are not, take for granted that the gazebo is there. Hard to believe it, but before 1995 Greendale Gazebo Park did not exist.  

The Dream:

In 1989 the Greendale Lions moved their Beer Garden for the 4th of July and Village Days to the property on Schoolway and Broad Street with the permission of Milwaukee County. Shortly afterwards Greendale Lion Robert ‘Bob’ Drews began to dream of a gazebo type bandstand on the site as a gathering place for the Village. The Lions started a feasibility study in November of 1992, but the real impetus came in the summer of 1993 when with the permission of Milwaukee County electricity was installed on the site by the Village and the Greendale Lions.

The Plan:

In December of 1993 Lions Robert Drews and James Clinton presented a proposal to the Village of Greendale to erect a gazebo type bandstand in . For the source of funds the proposal was very clear, “One objective of this proposal is to provide a focal point to bring the community together, not just in visiting the finished product, but in getting it established. We hope to raise the necessary funds through donations from citizens…”. Once the Village Board gave the go ahead, and Milwaukee County signaled that the land could be leased, Bob reached out to the community to get involved. In March of 1994 he sent a letter to 14 service clubs and 6 individuals in Greendale inviting them to the charter meeting of the Greendale Gazebo Commission.

The Organization:

The first meeting of the Greendale Gazebo commission was held on April 28, 1994. At this inaugural meeting Bob Drews was elected President, Jim Clinton Vice-President, and Sally Chadwick Secretary. The VFW Auxiliary, Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Library, Historical Society, Womens Club, Greendale Civic Orchestra, Greendale Lions Club, Greendale Promotions Committee, American Legion, Golden Agers, and the Village all sent representatives to the meeting. Committees were formed for design, fund raising, and publicity.

The Money:

There were a variety of ideas brought forth for fund raising, and a phone solicitation campaign was one of them. But it was not until the 8th meeting in November of 1994 that I found any mention of the sale of engraved bricks as a funding source. Of course the sale of bricks was to be the major source of funds for the gazebo project. Several businesses lent volunteers the use of their phones and offices in the evenings for the phone solicitation effort. Starting in February of 1995 volunteers went about calling every residence in Greendale. For a donation of $25 or more a brick could be engraved with the family, business or individuals name. In all 1,584 bricks were sold.  

The Bricks:

You may think with modern technology you just type names into a computer, place bricks on a conveyor belt, and a laser beam etches the name onto them all in a matter of minutes. You would be wrong. The art of ‘brickology’ is still not that sophisticated. The names do get typed into a computer, but then a stencil with the name outlined on it gets printed. This stencil is placed on top of the brick and the letters are carefully removed from the stencil. Each brick is then sand blasted which etches the name on it. Next black goo is spread over the brick creating the black color of the etched letters. When the goo dries the stencil is removed, and then it is ready for placement. That is what a small crew had to do for not one, not one hundred, but one thousand five hundred and eighty-four bricks (1,584). Yikes. Believe it or not they said they had fun doing it, and also said they contributed a pile of black goo covered clothes to the garbage heap in the process. The brick crew consisted of volunteers Sally Chadwick, Elaine Rendleman and Doris Fischer along with the Wenta Monuments pros Bernie, Marybeth, Charles and Michael Schroedl.

The Construction:

With Milwaukee County Supervisor Dave Zepecki’s help, on January 1st, 1995 the county leased the land to the Village for $1 per year for 30 years, with the option to renew it twice for ten years. The Ground Breaking Ceremony was held on Monday, May 8th, 1995. Video of the event shows that it was an overcast day with a drizzling rain. But that did not seem to damper anyone’s spirits. The list of attendees was a Who’s Who list of village and county officials, village organizations, businesses and individuals. From that day forward it was game on for the work crew. The goal was to finish the construction by Village Days, only three months away.

Construction of the gazebo was even more labor intensive than the etching of the bricks. It was not a pre-fabricated gazebo kit. The architectural design of the gazebo was done in a combined effort by Sharon Pendleton and Ed Hahlbeck. All work and materials were provided at cost or were donated. Reichl Construction owned by Jack Reichl poured the concrete platform. The Village Director of Public Works, Dave Mulhauf, opened up 3 bays in the maintenance building for the construction crew to do the fabrication.

Ted Fennig was one of the organizers of the work crew. He said the crew worked 7 days a week; most but not all of the construction crew from the Greendale Lions Club. In the beginning they would order out fast food for lunch. But then Ted’s wife Cassie started to bring down hot trays of food, jugs of lemonade and cookies. Other ladies started to help out and lunch time became a fun mid day break.

Once outside construction started in Dale Creek Park people would bring lawn chairs and watch the work. Or cars driving up and down Broad Street would slow down to check out progress. When it rained the crew packed up, went home, and as soon as it stopped they would come back. It was hard work but Ted told me “It was an enjoyable experience. It was a fun project.”

The Realization:

The dedication of the Greendale Gazebo was held on the Sunday of Village Days in 1995. There is a plaque on the side of the Gazebo that reads:

THIS GAZEBO WAS BUILT THROUGHT THE LEADERSHIP OF

THE SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE COMMUNITY AND

WITH THE PRIDE AND GENEROSITY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE

VILLAGE OF GREENDALE. DEDICATED AUGUST 13, 1995.          

The idea for a new community gathering place started with an individual, quickly grew to include other like minded individuals, organizations, and businesses, and was supported by the county and village governments. This project reaffirmed once again the immense degree of spirit, hard work and cooperation that the residents of Greendale have been known for since its founding in 1938.

The final list of contributors to the building of the Gazebo is way, way too long to include here. Every single participant or contributor can be proud of this legacy. It is a special gift that will be enjoyed by many generations to come. One person deserves special thanks, and that is Robert Drews. He was the humble champion of the project. Greendale Gazebo Park is the realization of his dream.

Epilogue:

Gazebo Commission members: Robert Drews, James Clinton, Sally Chadwick, Pat Koth, Warren Atkinson, Marie Birmingham, Barbara Brunett, Joan Dembosky, John Munger, Bette Murray, Sharon Pendelton, William Poglitsch, Elaine Rendleman, Marji Singer, and Vera Westman.

Park and Recreation Department coordinates the use of the Gazebo, the Village Public Works Department maintains the grounds, and the Greendale Lions Club maintains the gazebo.

The water fountain on the corner of the park is mysteriously listed in the official records as being donated anonymously. The donors wish to remain anonymous. If you really want to know the donors try asking Ted Fennig or Bob Drews.

But did you know?

You can still be part of the Greendale Gazebo story, and pass down your legacy to future generations. The two walks leading to the Gazebo from the sidewalk along Broad Street were completed in 1996, and personalized bricks are still available for purchase. Your purchase of a brick will assist the Greendale Lions in continuing to maintain the Gazebo. This spring the Gazebo was spruced up with a fresh coat of paint and ceiling stain. So the Gazebo will be looking pretty for Greendale’s 75th Anniversary next year. You can find out how to purchase your brick by visiting the Greendale Lions Club website.

People, Past & Present!

Jason Van Roo grew up in the Hales Corners/Franklin area. When he was young his mother’s driving path would sometimes lead thru Greendale. He remembers thinking that one day he wanted to live here. After high school he graduated in 1997 from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a
Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. Subsequently he obtained a Masters in Education and has been teaching for the past twelve years. Currently he teaches Art and Philosophy at Oconomowoc High School.

I bumped into Jason, his wife Heather, and children Bram (age 6) and Adeline (age 4) last Saturday at the Greendale Public Library. Jason’s artwork, a pastel on paper titled ‘Time and Place’ won first prize in ‘ Art Contest. I sat down with Jason to find out about his interest in artwork. The art contest was not restricted to artists living locally, but what a bonus to learn that Jason lives in the ‘A’ section. I started by asking him what brought he and his wife to Greendale.

Jason said that they had travelled several times to Europe and liked the country style living they saw. They moved to Greendale in 2002 primarily because of the neighborhood feel and the history associated with living in an ‘original’. Jason said the neighbors are friendly, the walking paths and parks convenient, and the Village Center easily accessible. I asked him how he dealt with not having a lot of space to store ‘stuff’. He said it was an ongoing challenge to limit the amount of stuff accumulated, but the charm of living in a Greendale original outweighed the inconvenience.

On one of his walks thru the Village with the kids and the family dog, Jason saw the poster with the announcement of ‘The Spirit of 75’ art contest. He looked it up on the Greendale Library website, spoke with Library Director Gary Warren Niebuhr, and decided to enter an art piece in the contest. The judges did not know anything about the artists or where they lived while the judging was being conducted. All of the entries in the contest were wonderful works of art, but perhaps Jason’s won out because it expressed his feelings about Greendale a slight bit more than the others. Who knows? Congratulations to Jason on his winning artwork. By winning, ‘Time and Place’ became the official art piece of ‘Greendale’s 75th Diamond Celebration’ in 2013. Now everybody will know Jason’s name, as well as Heather, Bram and Adeline.

Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:

– The Greendale Gazebo was completed in time for Village Days and dedicated on Sunday August 13, 1995.

Week#58 Question – Besides putting out fires, what else did the Greendale Fire Department use water for during the 4th of July Celebrations?

** Week #58 contributors Sally Chadwick, Ted Fennig, Greendale Lions Club, Greendale Historical Society, Jason Van Roo

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