Fundraiser to aid in ballroom restoration

DeKALB – Two local artists are planning a fundraiser to restore space in a historic building and create a location for artists and musicians to buy, sell and make art.

“I think it could be a great art space and a great venue space,” Georgia “Geo” Alderson said about the second-floor ballroom in the Knights of Columbus building at 1341/2 Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb. “It has six chandeliers, hardwood floors, and 15-foot ceilings.”

Alderson and fellow artist Andrew “Webby” Vanko have been working hard to clean and make repairs to the ballroom as their time and budgets allow. However, the space still needs extensive work to make a presentable art space. Alderson said it needs a new ceiling, as well as electrical and plumbing work.

The Knights of Columbus built the building in about 1920. A March 1918 article in the Daily Chronicle about the proposed construction said the building was intended to house retail space on the first floor and DeKalb City Council chambers on the third floor.

Janet Fawcett of DeKalb remembers attending teen dances in the ballroom in the 1960s.

“Even then it felt old, but we didn’t care,” Fawcett said. “It was a big open room with the bands at one end. There were offices in front (facing Lincoln Highway) and you had to walk up the stairs and down a long hall to get there.”

Alderson hopes to have at least one band play at the event, and there will be baked goods and art for sale. Refreshments will be available. Space is available for artists to display and sell their work with a 15 percent commission.

When renovations are complete, the ballroom will be available to rent to photographers and other artists who need a large space to work.

“It’s a great space and I am glad they are taking it to the next level,” building owner Sandy Gavin said. 

Ballroom Fundraiser

6 p.m. Aug. 17

134 1/2 Lincoln Highway, DeKalb

For more information, find The Ballroom on Facebook or contact Vanko at 815-793-6208.

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