Couple restores historic building in Delano, Minn. for event space

A historic building in downtown Delano is going through a major renovation and is now just a matter of weeks from being completed.

”When we bought it seven years ago, we wanted to save the building, and that was it,” says owner Lynn Graunke.

The building stretches an entire city block along Bridge Avenue and dates back to 1905. The last three sections were purchased by the mayor of Delano, Dale Graunke, and his wife Lynn.

“She wanted to buy the building and I went, 'why?'” says Mayor Graunke. “She likes big buildings, and then after we bought it she said, 'what did we do?'”

Built within just eight months back when horse and buggies parked out front, over the last 114 years, the space has been home to apartments, a cinema, a food store, a bar, a café, and most recently a hardware store before it sat vacant for several years. Restoring the more than 13,000 square-foot space from the top down the second floor is already transformed into offices.

“I stripped and varnished my first door five years ago,” Lynn said.

Now the final push to restore street level is underway. Named after the previous hardware store owner, "The Jerome" will be an event space. Among countless hours of work, the Graunke's have hand-restored miles of woodwork and removed small mountains of plaster.

“We had to use just a little screwdriver, but while we were cleaning, we found this signature and it says ‘Leo Hansman, Delano, August 14th 05,' so 1905,” Lynn said. "It just almost makes you want to cry because it was so special."

The original building built for less than $15,000. The current investment is significantly more. Along they way, they've tried to keep work local, from the wallpaper being created down the street to the trade workers themselves. The mayor's connections from a 40-year career building custom homes also come in handy.

“Honestly, I feel like Dale is the only one who could save this building because he works for cheap!" Lynn said.

For both Graunkes, saving part of downtown is the most satisfying part of all. “The building is too beautiful. It has to be open to the public and so now it really is,” Lynn said.

The first wedding in "The Jerome" is scheduled for Sept. 21.