Local piece of history could have a new home

Published: Mar. 31, 2017 at 6:15 PM CDT
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A piece of local history could have a new home, but before that happens, it’s in need of repair.

The pagoda from the former Woo's Pagoda restaurant has been in front of Banbury Place in Eau Claire for 2.5 years, and the elements have taken their toll on the artifact.

The pagoda is too big to fit in the Chippewa Valley Museum, so the Local Lounge in Eau Claire is trying to become a permanent home for the large, physical piece of Eau Claire’s history.

Shingles are displaced, the wood needs to be replaced, and it needs to be painted, but it does a have a solid steel structure. Leaders of the Chippewa Valley Museum, Live in Eau Claire, and the Local Lounge met Friday morning to discuss future plans for the pagoda.

“Getting it transported offsite to a warehouse to work on it throughout the winter to get it restored and starting steps to get the funds raised to do the restoration project,” Nick White, Director of Sales and Marketing for Live in Eau Claire and the Local Lounge, said was discussed at the meeting.

They have yet to find a place where it could be restored, but Carrie Ronnander, the Director of the Chippewa Valley Museum, says they do have a lead.

“We have been in long talks about where it was going to get restored, how it would get restored, and the biggest stumbling block has been that it’s in an outdoor space, so to do any kind of work on it, you have to do it with the elements,” Ronnander said.

But why does the Local Lounge want to take the time and resources to try to restore and keep the pagoda in the area? White says its history and what it means to the Chippewa Valley has their interest.

“It was a landmark,” White said. “If you were giving directions to people from out of town to come to downtown Eau Claire, you’d tell them, ‘Come down Hastings Way and turn right at the Pagoda.’ It really was one of those things that people used for directions, but if you were trying to recognize something in Eau Claire, Woo’s Pagoda was one of those pieces.”

Ronnander says it’s a special artifact because of how unique it is to the area.

“You don’t just find pagodas like this anywhere," Ronnander said. "But it also indicates the immigration history that we have in our community. People come in, they find something to do, they make a living, and they become part of the community.”

The Local Lounge plans to host Woo’s Night at the Local Lounge to help fund the restoration project. It will feature original recipes from the Woo family’s restaurant, and its tentative date is May 9th.