LAONA - Lumber, logging, and the Connor family make up a lot of Laona's history. But some people say the rural town could be losing a lot of its history.
A group of people want to preserve that history and it's starting with one building.
"When the building was originally built it housed the Connor Lumber and Lane Company, it also housed mercantile services, the post office, a drug store, a soda fountain. It had everything," said Phil Adamczyk, who's leading the renovation project.
Adamczyk bought the former grocery store, in December of last year, with a plan in mind. The project is known as Amoterra University of Restorative and Healing Arts or AURHA. Adamczyk wants a college, a holistic wellness center, a ballroom, and more to fill the nearly 30,000 square foot building.
"It was just the right time, not only to implement the project that we had been looking at planning for a university, but to help preserve and restore a piece of history," said Adamczyk.
"If you can see past all the debris and sweep away the dust and the cobwebs, there's something here and at one point in Laona's history this building was the jewel of the town," said business partner Kristopher Tryczak.
Because of the building's historic significance, Adamczyk and his team have also been working to get the 1914 building on state and national registries of historic places.
RT Krueger, who works with the Forest County Historical Society, says any buildings recognized as historic could help bring tourism to the community. Krueger says it's important people take the time to learn about their history.
"Just because we don't have a lot of these buildings, it's important to preserve the ones we have [and] to preserve the stories of the buildings," said Krueger.
"[This] is our attempt to bring some of that back to the area to keep everything going and to restore what the area used to be," said Adamczyk
The project could take two to five years to complete and will cost more than $1 million.
For more information on the Amoterra University project, click on the link below.
Amoterra University Facebook Page