Ripon Main Street took home two competitive awards at the virtual 30th Annual Wisconsin Main Street Awards last week Wednesday night, while having two individuals recognized.

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The Historic Mapes Hotel won Best Historic Restoration, while the Rotary Square Beautification Project garnered Best Volunteer Engagement. Bill Boesch, meanwhile, was honored for being Ripon Main Street’s Volunteer of the Year for his involvement in the Rotary Square Beautification Project, while Ripon Main Street Executive Director Craig Tebon was recognized for 29 years of service.

Making the recognition sweeter is Ripon Main Street competed against roughly 50 other Main Street communities in the state, as well as a couple hundred Connect Communities Programs, which are aimed at supplementing the Main Street program by expanding services to more downtowns across the state.

“It's impressive being able to have one of your projects be considered the best in the state,” Tebon said. “Whether it's the Rotary Square project or Mapes, I think it just goes to show that we have some really good things happening in our community, and it's great to be able to share that with others across the state."

Historic Mapes Hotel

The renovation of the Mapes building, which is one of the oldest structures in the Watson Street Historic District, took place from September 2018 to August 2020 and was led by Debbie and Tom Rogers, and Shannon and T.J. Rogers. The project cost was listed on the nomination form as more than $1 million.

“Accomplishing the renovation was a challenge,” the nomination form stated. “The Mapes property had been severely neglected by the previous owner and was close to being demolished prior to being purchased by the Rogers family. The building sat vacant from 2008 until the start of the renovation, and had been damaged beyond simple repair. The extensive renovation project began in 2019. The interior was stripped down to the studs and completely remodeled. The electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems were replaced and brought up to code. New appliances, fixtures and furniture were added to make each room unique.”

The nomination form went on to state that the “historic hotel has been modernized to offer high-end appeal” and that “the renovation created 11 one-bedroom boutique units, each with custom designed kitchens and bathrooms. Unique design elements were incorporated into the apartments including retaining the original open staircase from the lobby, and exposing stone and brick interior walls.” It also noted that “the restoration incorporates technology for stream-lined check-in and check-out process, with virtual attendants to help assist guests and provides numerous conveniences and amenities for both personal and business travelers.”

“There’s no other hotel in the area that offers a complete dedication to contributing to our vibrant and growing community,” the form concluded. “Whether you are celebrating an occasion, meeting on business or enjoying a needed getaway, you will be delighted with the amenities and extras that await you at Historic Mapes Hotel.”

Tebon noted it was nice to have the Rogers family recognized as the hotel is going to be a building component for the downtown revitalization process and without them it probably would’ve been demolished.

“I can't say enough about what Tom and Debbie, and T.J. and Shannon have done for our community,” he said.

Rotary Square Beautification Project

The Rotary Square Beautification Project, which won the award for Best Volunteer Engagement, was done by Ripon Rotary in cooperation with Ripon Main Street to beautify the 100 block of Watson Street with two pergolas.

The club used proceeds from one of their golf outings, donating more than $31,000 to cover the majority of the expenses. The project took place from June to October of last year.

The nomination form noted that planning for the project began following a streetscape workshop that took place in April 2018, after which the consultants recommended creating identifiable features in each block of the district.

“Following the workshop, the Main Street Beautification Committee began searching for ways to make the median more visible and useable,” the nomination form said. “After numerous discussions, members of the committee decided adding pergolas would attract attention to the space that is somewhat hidden by parked vehicles, and park benches would make the area more desirable for visitors and residents to gather.”

The form added that “the enhancement project became even more important after the city removed the trees from the median” and that “volunteers from Rotary removed the brick pavers from around the parameter of the median.

“The decision to incorporate the pavers into the new design certainly pleased local residents who were concerned that the bricks would be discarded. Main Street hired contractors to install new trees, excavate the area and pour concrete pads for the seating areas. Volunteers from Rotary began assembling the pergolas in late September, adding festive lights as the final element of the project. The Square now shines a little brighter thanks to the generosity of Ripon Rotary.”

Tebon noted that the project would not have been possible without the help of the Ripon Rotary club.

“Those kinds of relationships are critical to the success of downtowns because Main Streets alone with limited budgets can't ... have enough of an impact,” he said. “But when we can collaborate with other entities, share some of those resources, we can do things that are a little bit beyond what typically occurs, especially in terms of streetscapes. Budgets are tight, so if it wasn't for Rotary, we wouldn't have had that nice of an upgrade on the square."

One of the individuals that Tebon noted “went above and beyond the call of duty” in erecting the pergolas was Boesch, which is why the Ripon Main Street executive director nominated him for Ripon’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

“We thought it was a great way to recognize Bill for his involvement with that project,” Tebon said.

Tebon plans on recognizing Ripon Rotary and the Rogers family for their accomplishment during the Ripon’s Business Improvement District mixer Tuesday, May 25. It will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at a location yet to be announced.

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