February 15, 2007 at 8:08 a.m.
Since it was built in 1904, the building has hosted numerous events, including bingo, rollerskating, movies in the 1920s, club dances in the 1930s and 1940s, council meetings, parties, banquets, potluck dinners, school programs, piano recitals, visits with Santa, gift showers and even Sunday afternoon church services for farmers who couldn't make it to morning services at Chisago Lake Lutheran Church in Center City. It has also served as a polling place and an exhibit hall for historical materials during Shafer Heritage Dagen.
Most recently, the building was used as the city hall offices and maintenance garage for Shafer. City staff moved out in 2004 when a new city hall was built. The maintenance staff and equipment moved out last December, when the new public works building opened its doors.
Now, the building has been condemned because of mold and is scheduled for demolition in March. Its contents are up for public sale through a sealed bid process. All bids are due to city hall by Feb. 20.
The hall was open to the general public Feb. 13 for viewing. A complete list of inventory for sale is available at city hall. Among the items included are windows, wood flooring, fixtures, old city Christmas decorations and some office equipment.
While some local historians, including resident Sally Barott, are upset that the building is being torn down, they are concerned that it hasn't been offered for sale.
City Clerk Lynn Jawish says that isn't the case; the building is available for sale, but it also has to be moved from its current site and no buyers have stepped forward to say they are willing to purchase it and pay to have it moved as well.
When the new city hall and public works buildings were built, the city used existing park land. The intent was to eventually remove the old city hall building and "return" the land around the old site to the city as park land. "It was a deal the city worked out with itself, really," Jawish said. "Exchanging old park land for new park land."
The city acknowledges the historical value of the building, but recognizes that it is in major disrepair.
"It's old. It has been used, but it hasn't been taken care of," Jawish said.
Demolishing the old Shafer Hall building will make way for the Swedish Immigrant bike trail, and adjacent to it, a parking lot and trail shelter.
There is no date scheduled for demolition, but the city is planning for sometime in March. It will cost an estimated $17,300.