EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A landmark on Eau Claire’s east side was taken down Thursday after nearly 63 years on Hastings Way offering meals and memories.
Crews removed the pagoda from the roof of the former Woo’s pagoda restaurant, and hauled it off to a temporary location near Banbury Place on Galloway Street in Eau Claire.
This comes as a relief to those who felt a connection to the historic structure, and were concerned it would be demolished with the building.
“When you saw the pagoda, you knew you were in Eau Claire,” Chippewa Valley Museum Director Susan McLeod said.
“It was put up in July of 1951 by Mr. BB, who originally designed it, built it and installed it on Jimmy Woo’s Pagoda.
“It is an icon of a certain phase of development, a certain phase of history.” “Many many community members, they have a pagoda story,” McLeod said.
After sitting empty for years, many feared that symbol of nostalgia would disappear when plans for a CVS pharmacy were approved by city council. The Chippewa Valley museum pushed to save it, and its owner agreed donate the structure before the building is torn down.
McLeod said even more donations of time and money made it happen.
Thursday, the pagoda was disconnected from its foundation, lifted by a crane, tilted onto a trailer, hauled to Banbury place and lifted back upright to stay for at least another year, until a platform outside the museum is finished.
Dick Hajek was put in charge of the project.
“I originally was part of the team that moved the 2719 steam locomotive, out of Carson Park. I also worked on part of the Titanic expedition, bringing up part of that, so I’m sort of the go to guy for strange things around town,” Hajek said.
With some pieces breaking off and wires inside exposed, McLeod says the pagoda is in need of some care before it can be displayed at Carson Park. But for now, she and Hajeck said moving it safely made many efforts a success.
“These historical artifacts and pieces, there are people out there who liked to save them and restore them, then pass the history on to the next generation and the generation after that and so once they get this down to Carson Park in the next year or so, I think the generations that come will hopefully appreciate what we in the past have left them,” Hajek said.
McLeod said she hopes to have a structure ready for the pagoda to move to Carson Park next year. She said the Woo family was excited and appreciates the work put in to save it.
The pagoda from the former Woo's Pagoda Restaurant in Eau Claire has been removed.
On Thursday morning the Chippewa Valley Museum had a crew remove the pagoda from the building.
It is now at Banbury Place in Eau Claire, where it will sit temporarily until the museum is able to put together a base for it to sit on at the museum.
The pagoda is 18 feet tall and 8 feet by 8 feet wide.
The Eau Claire City Council approved plans earlier this month to tear down the former restaurant and build a new CVS drugstore. The building is scheduled to be demolished by the end of May.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (CHIPPEWA VALLEY MUSEUM NEWS RELEASE) -- Community members and businesses came together this morning to help the Chippewa Valley Museum (CVM) save the pagoda from Woo’s restaurant. The pagoda has been an Eau Claire icon for nearly 65 years as the business corridor along Hastings Way developed.
The former Woo’s Chinese restaurant will be demolished by the end of May to make way for new construction. The current owner offered the pagoda as a gift to CVM if removal could be arranged. CVM Director Susan McLeod said, “We could not know if the move was possible until we tried. The wooden pagoda was built over a steel structure that proved to be in good condition. Some of the wooden parts show damage but can be repaired as has been done a number of times in the past.”
The pagoda is currently in a temporary storage location. The pagoda is estimated to be about 20’ high and is too big to be in the museum in Carson Park. However, CVM is planning for a future façade/entrance renovation that includes an outdoor seating area, where there could be a place for the structure.
Volunteers and area businesses are contributing in-kind nearly everything needed to attempt the move. Contributors to date include: Dick Hajek: team leader; Cutting Edge: transport; PV Farmer: equipment; SignArt: salvage of neon lighting, equipment; Market & Johnson: cribbing to hold the pagoda as it traveled; Eau Claire Police Department: escort. Wayne Peters, Jack Kaiser, Duane Dingmann, and Haas Sons Construction provided additional services. Donors supporting remaining expenses of the move: Charter Bank, Janet Dykema Seymour. Thanks also to the many residents who have shared their pagoda stories so far, and their concern for its future.
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The Chippewa Valley Museum is considering taking ownership of the pagoda, on top of the former Woo's Pagoda restaurant, along Hastings Way in Eau Claire.
Director Susan McLeod says the Board of Directors met to talk about possible plans.
The pagoda is 18 feet tall and 8 feet by 8 feet wide. McLeod says it is too big to fit inside the museum, so it would have to be placed outside somewhere in a safe spot.
She says the museum would have to pay to remove it properly, and stated that there are several "equipment and insurance issues" to figure out before they could do that.
McLeod says several people in the community have asked the museum to take ownership of the pagoda. She says a lot of people see it as an historic part of Eau Claire.
The Eau Claire City Council has approved plans to tear down the former restaurant and build a new CVS drugstore.
The building is scheduled to be demolished by the end of May.
McLeod says the board hopes to have a decision on whether or not to take ownership of the pagoda by the end of this week.