The Great Pagoda Rescue

Tom Giffey

Salvaging the pagoda in May 2014.
Salvaging the pagoda in May 2014.

The saga of a quirky piece of Eau Claire’s architectural history took a positive turn recently when a local business offered space for the storage and repair of the iconic roof topper from Woo’s Pagoda Restaurant.

Chippewa Valley Door Co. in Chippewa Falls responded to a public plea from the Chippewa Valley Museum for indoor storage space for the 18-foot pagoda structure, which has been kept outside since 2014 when it was salvaged before the well-known Chinese restaurant was demolished. Another business, Live in Eau Claire, has offered to restore the pagoda, but it needs adequate indoor space in which to do so.

Chippewa Valley Door Co. is offering the use of a building with 14-foot doors and 20-foot ceilings, providing plenty of vertical space for the pagoda, said owner Rob Bearrood. The company, which installs and services garage doors, recently purchased the building that houses the Chippewa Herald, 321 Frenette Drive, Chippewa Falls.

Bearrood said he decided to offer the space after hearing media reports that the Chippewa Valley Museum would cease pursuing restoration efforts unless indoor storage was found. Chippewa Valley Museum Director Carrie Ronnander – who set that ultimatum in April – said she was excited by the offer. “It still has to go all the way through,” she noted, “but we’re much further along than we were before.”

Eau Claire construction firm Market & Johnson has offered to move the pagoda, but a date hasn’t been set.

Since it was salvaged in May 2014, the pagoda has been stored outdoors next to Banbury Place on Galloway Street. However, it has deteriorated because of exposure to the elements. Live in Eau Claire had previously offered to repair and display the structure at the Local Lounge, its restaurant on North Clairemont Avenue. A recent fundraising dinner at the Local Lounge netted $3,000 for the restoration project, which will cost an estimated $15,000, Ronnander said.

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