BY JENNIFER BAILEY
The next time a wedding, reception or other special event takes place at Harrison Park Clubhouse, there is a beautiful, newly uncovered wooden staircase for photos.
City parks employees have been painting and doing other renovation work at the clubhouse as a winter project.
Special Services Superintendent Steve Lane with the city said interior and exterior renovations will be completed, including stucco repairs and a new roof to be installed in the spring and cleaning of chandeliers.
Lane said not a lot is being done to change the clubhouse’s arts and crafts style or character.
The clubhouse, a historic landmark next to the 18-hole golf course, was built in 1911 for $20,000. Today, the city’s parks department oversees the clubhouse.
The clubhouse, with beamed ceilings and Tudor-style detailing was designed by Charles Lewis. Lewis also designed Danville High School and other buildings.
The clubhouse first served the Danville Country Club. It had 11 bedrooms, screened porches, a bowling alley and lounging rooms. Club members would often vacation there, eating in the clubhouse restaurant and playing golf each day. The clubhouse restaurant closed in 1988.
People now rent the clubhouse for various events. The clubhouse also is used for craft fairs, the Starlight Ball, CASA Royal Ball and as a voting site.
The city owns and operates Harrison Park Golf Course on West Voorhees Street as a public recreational facility. The city bought the clubhouse separately.
Commercial-News owner and editor John H. Harrison and his wife, donated as a memorial to Harrison’s mother, Minta, the 235-acre park, formerly the Danville Country Club, to the city.
Harrison Park was annexed into the city in 1940. Initially it was a 9-hole facility.
When Harrison died in 1930, most of his estate went to DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., from which he graduated, for the John H. Harrison Hall. Harrison’s stipulation for Harrison Park’s land was that the city must use it for recreation.
The clubhouse has now been closed to the public since mid-December for renovations. It is expected to be re-opened by the end of March.
“Over the years there were many alterations,” Lane said about the building, including a rebuilt south wall.
One of the most visible differences now in walking inside the building is the immediate stair case to the building’s second floor. When one walked inside the front door previously, there was just a wall in the more narrow hallway.
Also found in the building was some wainscoting covered up with 1970s wallpaper.
“It’s amazing all we uncovered,” Lane said.
City employees took the wall down and opened up the front hallway area to reveal the stairway with a gate.
“The swinging gate is an original part of the building,” Lane said.
The city uses the second floor only for storage. There also is a custodial closet, and stairs leading downstairs too, by the staircase.
Throughout the building there are other improvements being considered.
“Just like an old person, (an old building) starts to sag …,” Lane said, about the floors and other areas.
The last major renovations occurred seven to eight years ago with the windows, and also other restoration work, interior decorating and other renovations in the mid-1990s with the help of the Old Town Preservation Association.
The building has suffered some water damage.
“It’s a part of Danville. It’s one of our treasures,” Lane said of the building. “It’s like an arts and crafts museum.”
Funding for the renovations is coming from the city’s parks budget through building maintenance/materials to maintain buildings.
Public Works Director Doug Ahrens said a couple items are being placed out for bid, but as of this point, city officials anticipate an expenditure of $50,000 to $75,000 to cover roofing replacement, structural repairs and interior finishes not including flooring or lighting.
Renovation of restrooms is expected to be in Phase II next winter. This spring the city will proceed with exterior work when weather permits, according to Ahrens.