Ripon's Watson Street and Patina Vie at night

Ripon’s Watson Street and Patina Vie at night
Photo by Craig Tebon

The recent Wisconsin Main Street Awards recognized notable businesses and projects from around the state over the past year. The awards, now in their 28th year, recognize many different forms of success. The audience always looks forward to seeing property transformations, which provide jaw-dropping and inspiring before-and-after image comparisons that demonstrate the possibilities of even the most blighted or altered properties to become architectural gems—as well as the outcomes that are achievable with enough inspiration and elbow grease.

The Hub on 6th project in La Crosse

The Hub on 6th project in La Crosse

This year, The Hub on 6th project in La Crosse illustrated that even mid-century office properties can be reinterpreted and reinvented as unique and attractive residential space (with sustainable features to boot), while the renovation of the former Larsen Canning Factory in Green Bay reinforces the importance of persistence in planning. Once slated to be torn down for a Walmart, the renovated property is now anchoring a renaissance on the northern end of the Broadway district, home to a co-working space, a brewery and multiple small businesses.

Of course, small projects can have just as dramatic of an effect on the appearance of a downtown. The Jacobs Building in downtown La Crosse represents a true transformation, from an unremarkable and drab property into a unique vibrant space. The $40,000 project removed multiple ‘additions’ from the property, including the stucco façade and multiple layers of paint, thereby making it eligible for the historic district as a funding tool for the interior renovation phase.

Facade of the Jacobs Building in La Crosse before renovation

Facade of the Jacobs Building in La Crosse before renovation

Facade of the Jacobs Building in La Crosse after renovation

Facade of the Jacobs Building in La Crosse after renovation

Equally dramatic because of the clean design and prominent corner location, the 205-209 Watson Building in Ripon had suffered from neglect, falling bricks and broken glass before being acquired by Rogers and Rogers. The full property renovation, shown at top, although costly, resulted in a new prime retail space now occupied by nationally recognized home goods store Patina Vie, as well as renovated upper floor apartments, which are in significant demand.