Falls Building Wins State Award for Restoration

Laack, Troy. The Sheboygan Press. May 5, 2004, page A3.

A restored, 125-year-old building in Sheboygan Falls was honored as the "Best Facade Rehabilitation Over $7,500" during the 14th annual Wisconsin Main Street Awards recently in Waupaca.

"It's the category for the larger projects, and larger projects tend to have a real significant impact on a downtown," said Nancy Verstrate, Sheboygan Falls Chamber-Main Street executive director. "It was restored back to its original state."

The Main Street Awards recognize outstanding achievements among the 33 communities in the state Department of Commerce's Main Street program, which began in 1988.

Neil Eigenberger, owner of the former Roberts Furniture building at 101 Pine St., spent $60,000 to restore the structure over a period of four months last year, he said.

"I enjoy historic buildings," the 52-year-old Eigenberger said. "I've always admired that building."

The building was restored to its original state with the help of old photographs, he said. There is still more work to do on the building, which will be completed this summer, he said.

Main Street Realty, owned by Robert and Sharon Hall, rents the building.

"It has helped our business here being on this corner," said Sharon Hall. "People just stop and look and realize that we're a real estate company."

The interior also was renovated exquisitely, Sharon Hall said.

"It's just incredible," Verstrate said of the renovation. "It's just a beautiful, beautiful building."

Richard Mauer of RCM Carpentry in Sheboygan Falls did the woodwork and Jennifer Lehrke of Sheboygan did the design work, Verstrate said.

Restoration included its tall windows, double doors, painting and woodwork.

Remodeling done in the 1960s had deteriorated over the years, Verstrate said.

"It wasn't a historic look at all," Verstrate said. "This took it back to the historic integrity of the building."

Eigenberger recently moved to Sheboygan Falls from Greenbush, where he restored a farm, then sold it. He said he makes a living through property management, restoring properties and renting them. He also developed Fall and Oaks Condominiums in Sheboygan Falls.

Eigenberger also owns the building housing Curves, next door to Main Street Realty; the building rented by the Bread & Bean Eatery at 107 Pine Street, which he also wants to renovate; and an old church building at 604 Erie Ave. in Sheboygan that he's restoring.

"I just like old buildings and old cars," Eigenberger said. "I like to see them put back to their original condition."

"It really showcased all the different high quality projects that are going on in downtowns across the state," Verstrate said. "We have probably won more awards than any of the other communities."

The chamber has won 47 awards over the last 15 years, she said.

"The Main Street program focuses on one particular historic district and believes that if you can rehabilitate the historic buildings and integrity of the district that it'll draw new business into the community," Verstrate said. "That's exactly what happened.

"The entire downtown Sheboygan Falls is completely revitalized in this last 15 years," Verstrate said. "It was next to abandoned 15 years ago and now it's a beautiful collection of restored buildings and very solid businesses."

The department lends technical expertise to communities with Main Street programs; however, local chambers are responsible for raising funds for any grants, Verstrate said. Eigenberger received a $250 grant from the Sheboygan Falls Chamber-Main Street for the renovation of the Main Street Realty building, she said.