As David Bowie, an innovative and influential figure in the music industry once sang, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange, ch-ch-changes.” While passing through Amery people may notice some things are starting to look different, and as strange as properties may look during the process, the changes are part of a main street that is starting to take on a restored state. At one point the street had quite a few empty buildings. It seems that soon enough updates to properties will help shed a new look onto Keller Avenue.
Farm Table extension (Formerly Country Hearth)
The building’s owner Peter Henry said the building has been completely renovated. New structural support all the way through to footings in the basement, new electric, new HVAC, new plumbing, new doors and windows. Henry said, “So, it’s up to 21st century standards and is quite a beautiful space to be in.”
He said what’s next is a little up in the air. “We assumed it would be a retail shop for Farm Table, and it still may be, just not this year. Farm Table is a nonprofit and they can’t just open a store and sell things — that’s not what nonprofits do. A 501(c)(3) has to do either training, education or research in the public interest. One would think that eating fresh, local food would qualify, but our attorney says ‘no.’ We actually have to do education, training or research. And since that is true of the restaurant as well, we are having to touch all the bases to make sure we are complying with Federal rules on nonprofits,” Henry said.
“Long and short, we are moving slowly toward a major training program at Farm Table involving the restaurant kitchen. Because it is complicated, we are not in a position to open the retail store until we figure out how to do training as part of it. So, we will likely utilize the space for special events in the mean time. Upstairs, we thought Farm Table staff might like the new space, but, it’s too far from the restaurant and they did not think it worked for them. So, we are considering all options upstairs — maybe rent, maybe microhotel, maybe special events lodging for presenters. We don’t know, but we love having possibilities.”
Henry went on to say, “We are going to have an Open House and a reception, hopefully in June, so the community can celebrate what a nice space it has downtown. We are feeling good about the building and excited for the next stage, whenever it arrives.”
Acme Junk Co. (Formerly Slumberland Clearance)
Acme Junk Co will be moving to downtown Amery from their current location on Highway 8 and 46 that was opened in Mrch 2016. They hope to be in their new building at 201 Keller Ave. North, in June. The operation is a family run business. Tom and Nancy Olson along with their children, Craig Olson and Stacy Sigsworth are excited for the big move.
The family has a prior connection with Amery’s main street. Nancy Olson’s grandfather was John G. Burman who opened a store on Keller Avenue in 1889. In 1895 he built the building that is the current home of Worn Again. Burman’s sons John and William later ran the building. In 1984 William bought out his brother and turned management of what was then Ben Franklin to his daughters, Patricia Burman Canham and Nancy Burman Olson. The Burman family operated businesses in Amery continuously for nearly 115 years. Craig said, “We are proud to continue that tradition.”
According to Acme’s Facebook page, “We’re working hard to bring back the majesty of this historical building, and been finding a few hidden treasures along the way.”
While peeking up through the drop ceiling in the new location, they found the gorgeous original tin ceiling. “There is a nine panel skylight/vent in the Northwest corner. Above that panel, were boxes containing all the original lighting globes for the fixtures that were just s-hooked above the drop ceiling. The rest of the ceiling is absolutely stunning 1930s stamped tin. We’ll be showing it off, as best we can!”
Tom Olson said that the lighting bulbs actually still lit up after all these years. He also said that glasswork similar to that in Amery’s Feit building exists in their place as well and they hope to eventually uncover it.
“We are most excited about being a part of the revitalization/reinvention of downtown Amery. Things are happening again, empty storefronts are beginning to be filled with a variety of good retailers,” said Craig.
316, 318 and 322 Keller Avenue (Originally Dutch’s Store)
Many have wondered what is going on at the building located across the street from Village Pizzeria. It was originally a store owned by Don “Dutch” Leadholm. He operated his business from the bottom and lived above the store. Gary and Roberta Bruce bought the property in early March 2019. The lower level, which is zoned as a commercial space had been sitting empty. There were apartments located above that area. The Bruces, who own Independent Roofing out of Clear Lake, have undertaken quite the remodel project and their hope is to put the building back on the market by July 1.
“I told Gary there was this place in Amery and we should take a look at it. We might be getting into a bigger remodel project than what we originally planned on, but it will really add to the look of main street. Although I’m a Clear Laker, I have always had a heart for Amery,” said Roberta.
During the process, all new plumbing and all new electric are being installed into the building. The lower level was dug deeper down below street level to allow for more headroom. The Bruces said that according to the building inspector, that space must stay zoned as commercial space.
Two apartments will exist above the commercial space. Walls have been knocked down to create a more spacious area in the three-bedroom apartment, which will include a beautiful screened porch area. Above that, a one-bedroom apartment will feature a deck with stunning views of North Twin Lake. They feel that apartment would make a great vacation rental space for those who want to come enjoy Amery and all of its recreational options. A landscaping project is also slated for the entire area surrounding the building.
Once the project is finished, the Bruces intend to hold an open house to show off the transformation.