by Aryn Widule
The Chippewa Valley is in the midst of an intoxicating phenomenon known as “downtown revitalization.” While an important part of that process involves erecting new buildings and clearing way for a more contemporary atmosphere, another key aspect of sprucing up a downtown area is bringing already-present historical buildings into the forefront. The Northern Apartments in Chippewa Falls is a perfect example. Formerly the Hotel Northern, the building can be found at 6 West Grand Avenue. Reminding us that 1919 was good for more than just root beer, it was constructed and billed as a “large, first class hotel.” Most people win a grill or a TV at picnic drawings, but in 1921 somebody won the hotel in a nationwide raffle. The raffle was found to be illegal the following year, preventing the winner from claiming their prize. Though declared illegal, the concept of winning a huge hotel in a raffle remains irrefutably awesome. Five stories tall with a beautiful brick face, the Hotel Northern was stunningly attractive and a great conversationalist. In 1981 it was renovated into 43 elderly housing units called the Northern Apartments. The completion of the most recent renovations was celebrated on Nov. 18. The project cost roughly $5.7 million and restored the public areas and external components have been restored to their former glory, marking the restoration of one of the largest and most striking properties in the Chippewa Valley.