ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – A historic building in Escanaba is getting a new lease on life.
The Delft on Ludington Street has been vacant for approximately nine years. New co-owner James Peterson of Sheboygan, Wisconsin was originally looking to restore a building in Iron Mountain for a project. However, when those plans fell through, he jumped at the chance to take his vision to Escanaba.
“We came through looking at the building, and by the time that we reached the circuit board panel to turn the lights on, I already knew we were going to buy this,” said Peterson.
Peterson, along with a silent investor also based out of Wisconsin, agreed to purchase the Delft for $70,000. Both believe it is a worthwhile investment in the Delta County community.
“The architecture itself speaks for some of the history of the region,” said J Kraus, Peterson’s silent investor. “To give back to the community–to the place I hopefully might settle in the future–is kind of a reward for me.”
Built as an opera house in the early 1900s, the Delft has had many lives. It later became a theater, and it eventually became a nightclub.
Peterson’s original idea was to turn the building into a cannabis microbusiness. Upon learning that some major changes would need to be made, he altered his plans to preserve the Delft’s history.
“That would require boarding up the entire main room,” Peterson said. “All of the ornate woodwork would have been covered up, and the original stained glass ceilings from 1904 would have to be covered. I called J and I’m like, ‘I don’t think I can do this.'”
Instead, the Delft will become an upscale events center. Peterson envisions hosting black tie and performing arts events, murder mystery nights, and wine tastings.
Private events have the option to be cannabis-friendly. Plans are in the works to secure permitting for a consumption lounge to be added further into the future.
“It is legal for us to sign an exclusive agreement with a dispensary,” said Peterson. “Any patrons will have the ability to order from a kiosk and have it delivered.”
Once the Delft receives the necessary permits, 50% of the funds brought in by cannabis sales will go toward renovations of the Old Michigan Theater.
Now, Peterson is working with a contractor to remove carpeting from the walls. They will also remove part of the flooring in the main banquet area to make the floor one level.
The Delft is partnering with Kremski’s Photos to offer in-house photography at events. Owner and photographer Heather Kremski says it is an honor to be involved in this project to keep part of Escanaba’s history alive for years to come.
“It’s just one of a kind,” said Kremski. “We need to restore it and keep it alive so my kids can have memories of this place, just as much as I and my mom and my grandma have memories of this place.”
The Delft will host an open house in July for anyone interested in holding an event inside the facility. In the meantime, Peterson is keeping the community updated on the progress of the renovations on Facebook. If you are interested in booking a future event at the Delft, you can send Peterson a message there.