Tralmers sell land for Tomah museum
As a Tomah Area Historical Museum board member Ron Tralmer was aware of a need to replace its longtime location at 1112 S. Superior St.
The board looked at several existing buildings and none fit their needs, said executive director Jim Weinzatl. The museum will celebrate its 20th year at that site in 2018. The building was the longtime home for the Clothes Post, owned by Frosty and Joyce Mades, strong advocates of Tomah history. They donated the building to be used as a museum.
It was a suitable location, but, "We are running out of space," Weinzatl said. "Nothing (existing buildings) seemed to fit."
But Tralmer knew of available land a few blocks from the museum, a double lot at the intersection of Superior Avenue and Council Street, across the street from Gillett Park. Conveniently located near the Little Red School House, which is managed by the museum volunteers.
Tralmer is very familiar with the location. For decades it was the site of Tralmer's Sales and Service, a business owned by Tralmer and his brother Don, a museum member. The brothers liquidated the business in 2003. The building sat vacant for several years and fell into disrepair, eventually being razed.
The lot sat vacant several years until the board opted to make an offer to purchase. After negotiating a price purchase papers were signed Dec. 29. As a donation to the project Weinzatl said the Tralmers sold the parcel for $20,000 less than the negotiated price.
Money for the purchase came from frugal savings by the board and fundraisers over 20 years, along with cashing in some CDs, Weinzatl said. It was a cash purchase with no debt incurred, Weinzatl added. He requested the purchase price be omitted at this time.
Board members interested in learning more are encouraged to attend the museum's annual meeting Monday, Jan. 29, 1:30 p.m. at the Tomah Chamber of Commerce office.
"The Tralmer brothers offered us a good price," Weinzatl said. I'm very happy with the board's decision to go ahead and purchase the land and look to the future. To grow with the city into the next decade."
A building fund has been established on the museum's Facebook page and directly through the museum. Donations can be mailed to the Tomah Museum, 1112 S. Superior Ave. 54660.
"How soon we build will depend on how much is donated and how soon funds are made available to us," Weizatl said.
Grants will be researched to offset costs, he added. Weinzatl said the next step is to design a site plan. There is no firm timetable to begin construction, though he would like to see a cement slab poured when weather permits. In the meantime board members will work to build public awareness and solicit donors.
"Since word got out about the land purchase we have been getting donations," Weinzatl said. "But we will definitely need money."
It's possible the site will be used for the museum's garage sale until construction begins pending the location of a tent for cover.
Building size remains uncertain. Some design specs are known. There will be no basement. It will be one level with a pitched roof and handicap accessible. Weinzatl anticipates the building to be designed to expand in the future.
Weinzatl is confident the museum's locale will offer a natural connection for activities at Gillette Park and the Red School House.
"It will be great visibility and add to Tomah's main street," Weinzatl said.
A realtor assessment has been done on the existing museum so the board has an idea on its value when the time comes to sell, he added. Want to assist with the effort? The next museum fundraiser is an all you can eat chili supper at the Tomah Knights of Columbus Hall Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.