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Hammond Hotel: 150-year-old iconic structure coming down

A new restaurant/bar facility will be built on the site of the Hammond Hotel at the intersection of Highway 12 and County Road T in Hammond. The iconic structure will be razed to make way for the new building. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
The Hammond Hotel has been a landmark for 150 years in the village of Hammond. It is set to be torn down. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

HAMMOND -- The Hammond Hotel, an iconic business and structure that has been standing at the main intersection of highways 12 and T in the Village of Hammond since the 1870s, will be torn down within the next month or two and replaced with a new bar/restaurant facility.

According to Andrew Schmitz, the hotel owner, an attempt to revive the 150-year-old structure was made, but given its current state, the cost to rehab the old building is prohibitive.

“When anybody has gone through the building, they are surprised by the deterioration,” Schmitz said. “It’s got issues from mold to roofing problems to foundation problems and now that it’s shut down there are codes that would have to be met [if the old building was reopened] and we would just be sinking a lot of money into it to give it … a Band-Aid.”

The decision to raze the old hotel and build a new structure has been in the works for some time, but the decision to move ahead with a new facility was just last week OK’d by village officials.

For eight years Schmitz was a silent partner in the hotel. When his partners shut the facility down last year, Schmitz bought out their shares and is now the sole owner.

“I reopened it last June -- the patio bar only. After assessments were done, we decided that it would take too much restoration to bring it back. The better option was to put up a new building,” Schmitz said.

Though an official name for the new facility has not been finalized, Schmitz did confirm that one of the options could be “Andy’s Saloon.”

He also confirmed that once the current structure is razed, the goal is to have the new building finished and the business operating by this year’s Heartland Days in mid-August.

Once the road weight restrictions come off, Schmitz said the work in tearing down the hotel will begin.

“The contractors may bring equipment to the site now,” Schmitz said, “but there is ongoing asbestos removal going on. There wasn’t much asbestos, we got lucky with that. After the asbestos removal, then the state DNR will give its OK and then we’ll get a permit to tear it down. The new building construction will take around three to four months.”

In an attempt to keep as much of the history of the old building alive, Schmitz said his plans call for using as much from the old facility as possible.

“We’re using the roof line that will be reconditioned … and we will use some shelves from inside; we’re using the original bar from inside -- it’s more than 100 years old -- and is all being refinished; we’re keeping a lot of the original artifacts that are in the bar. We’re taking everything usable and incorporating it into the new building,” Schmitz said. “That’s the biggest thing from the community that they would like to see -- that we’re incorporating a lot of things from the original place. That was a big plus.”

The new single level bar/restaurant will feature a full kitchen and bar, as well as an outdoor activity area that will feature areas for bean bags and horseshoes, but will also feature pickleball -- one of the fastest growing and most popular games in the United States at this time, Schmitz said. “We’re doing something a little different with that,” he said.

“The new building will be a single level. There will be no basement, no hotel rooms on a second level, but it will have the look of an old saloon -- that kind of feel.”

Schmitz said he was also very pleased with the cooperation he’s received from the village board in making all this happen.

“The Hammond village board has been great,” he said. “This will be a nice improvement to the downtown community. We’re on a prominent corner in the town, so it’s important to us to keep a nice looking building. We’re going to keep a lot of the detail of the former building on the new structure,” Schmitz said.

“Like one of the patrons said, ‘it’s time for a new era.’”