Historic building repurposed as events center

The 1887 Olde Towne Building is now available to rent for public private functions. The building?s owner, Gary Reimann of McPherson, is working in cooperation with local business woman Marie Kessler, who is overseeing scheduling and other arrangements. Don Ratzlaff / Free PressOlde Towne, one of the more historic buildings in Hillsboro downtown business district, is getting a new lease on life, thanks to efforts of two business owners.

Marie Kessler, owner of Kessler Kreations, and Gary Reimann of McPherson, owner of the building, want to rent Olde Towne as a venue for parties, meetings, rehearsal dinners, special events and other public events.

?It will make a unique setting for a variety of events,? Kessler said. ?Renting the facility is just another avenue besides the Scout House, Hillsboro Senior Center or churches.?

The centrally located facility is easy to find and has plenty of parking, she said.

Idea for renting

The idea to rent the building was the brainchild of Jan Frantz and Kessler.

?It was more her project since she wasn?t doing flowers anymore, but then she had to back away from it,? Kessler said.

Reimann told Kessler he liked the idea of having a local business handle scheduling because hours are set and keys can be picked up easily, she said.

Kessler said Reimann also wanted somebody to oversee use of the building.

?Having people in Olde Towne helps with insurance rates,? she said, ?and for maintenance reasons, people who see things deteriorating can help us, too.

?It?s good to find a use of some sort, instead of letting buildings sit empty.?

During the Arts and Crafts Fair in September, the building had its first renter, Vintage Soiree, a Hillsboro venture that features primitives, painted furniture and repurposed items.

Since then, Kessler said, she has booked a couple of Christmas parties, and one woman is interested in using the kitchen facilities for a rehearsal dinner.

?We also installed Wi-Fi,? she said.

Cleaning

Kessler said she has spent hours cleaning the building, but now the only things left to do are getting the hot water heater going, cleaning some of the floors, moving tables and changing furnace filters.

Reimann also said he has a few dishes in Olde Towne, but as they get more into this endeavor, he has restaurant dishes in storage.

?If this is something that will start taking off, then he will bring some,? she said.

?I will also be bringing in a coffee maker.?

Pricing

Kessler said she is offering an introductory price.

?For now, we want to get the word out and get people interested,? she said.

Although there are some combinations that could cause the price to fluctuate slightly, Kessler said the main dining room and lobby, with minimal kitchen use, would cost $50.

Minimal kitchen use means heating something in the oven and using one of the refrigerators for the day.

Another option could be the southeast part of the building with the wheelchair exit.

?That one and the buffet room are $40 each,? she said, ?and if someone is having a reception and needs more refrigerators or running the stove for an extended length of time, there would be a kitchen fee.?

According to Kessler, the fee would depend on the event.

?Prices are per day, and if someone needed an extra day to decorate, they would be spending an additional amount,? she said.

Kessler said she believes the prices are reasonable and she and Reimann both want people to have an affordable place for functions.

?We don?t want to break their banks,? she said. ?We are trying to get prices out there, and I figure before long I will have to hire someone to clean.?

Fees

As for scheduling or booking an event, Kessler said there is a $10 nonrefundable fee, but that gets a person?s name on the calendar.

Those signing up to rent space will also need to pay half the usage cost up front.

?If someone cancels a month in advance, we won?t give them back the $10 scheduling fee, but they probably won?t have to pay the cancellation fee,? she said.

But if someone cancels two days before their event, and Kessler says if she can?t get someone else to rent it, the person will pay a $25 cancellation fee, which is in addition to the rental cost.

?We are pushing other people aside who could have rented the building,? she said.

Kessler said most reasons for renting the building are fine with her, but she doesn?t know the rules regarding alcohol yet.

Until she knows what she can do regarding alcohol, Kessler suggests groups interested in alcohol could rent the American Legion Hall.

?Right now Olde Towne is an inexpensive deal,? she said, ?and as long as my expenses aren?t over the top. it can stay that way.?

Olde Towne has been locked up for almost three years.

Dorie and Linden Thiessen owned the building from 1992 until closing in December 2008.

Brenda McGuinness bought the facility not long after the Thiessens, but she also closed about a year later.

In November 2011, Kelly and David Joch closed the doors until now.

For more information or to rent the facility, call Kessler at 620-947-3138 or stop by her business at 112 S. Main St.

Olde Towne is located at 126 N. Main St., Hillsboro.

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