MINEOLA - A building that housed a century of memories for the German community of Mineola disappeared from Main Street last Tuesday. The demolition of the Mineola Community Building took just three hours.
“It’s kind of hard to see it go, but I know it’s time for a new building,” lifelong Mineola resident Calvin Deitchler said.
Deitchler was among a handful of Mineola residents who came out to watch the demolition of the historic building that opened in 1916 as a pool hall and was later converted into the Palisades Ballroom. The ballroom was the place to go for Saturday night dances and featured the music of some of the most popular bands and orchestras from the region. Deitchler remembers Lawrence Welk and the Six Fat Dutchmen performing at the ballroom. Crowds of 200 - 300 people were common.
“We had a dance every Saturday night,” Deitchler recalled. “They (people) came from Council Bluffs, Omaha, Shenandoah and Red Oak. They all came here to dance.”
Deitchler also recalled going to the old pool hall to get his hair cut when he was a young boy.
“There was a barber shop in one little room. We all got our haircuts there,” he said.
The Mineola Commu-nity Building was renovated several times and in recent years served as a gathering place for wedding receptions, reunions, family gatherings and other social events. Last August, however, the building was heavily damaged during a pair of storms that produced hail and strong winds. The structure sustained roof, window, siding and interior damage. Repair costs were going to be more than the community could afford so the decision was made in December to demolish the building and kick off a fundraising campaign for a new structure.
Banker Duane Kahl, a member of the Mineola Community Center board, said the new building is expected to carry a price tag of $120,000 - $130,000. About $50,000 in pledges have been made up to this point and additional funds are still being sought.
“We don’t really want to get into debt,” Kahl said. “If we get some volunteer labor, that could help with the cost.”
Kahl said the design of the new community center hasn’t been finalized, but he foresees a 36-foot wide by 60 to 80-foot long building. The goal, Kahl said, is to have the new structure completed by next winter.