Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Dec. 3, 2001

Sale of old Winsted City Hall finally completed

By Ryan Gueningsman

It's now official ­ the new owners of the old Winsted City Hall are Todd and Kelly Colonna of Le Sueur, who purchased the building from the City of Winsted at a cost of $1.

The Colonnas were in town Wednesday to finalize the agreement, take part in signing the final documents, and participate in a key presentation ceremony.

The keys to the old city hall building were presented to the Colonnas by Mayor Don Guggemos.

"Hopefully this will preserve the building," said Mayor Guggemos. "It should make the folks that were so concerned with it very happy."

Todd and Kelly Colonna do these sort of renovation projects as a hobby.

Their first project was an old brick farmhouse that had 18 rooms in it. It was going to be bulldozed, but the Colonnas purchased it, and made it into a nice home. It is where they ­ along with their nine kids ­ currently reside.

They have done many things like this in the past, including the old village hall in the small town of Kasota, as well as another recent purchase ­ a historic building in the town of Wells.

"The building in Wells is very similar to the one here in Winsted," said Todd.

The couple's interest in the old Winsted City Hall began when they were in Silver Lake. They had heard that an old building in Winsted might be demolished, and they decided to check it out.

"When we first visited the city, we took a tour with then City Administrator Matt Podhradsky. It seemed that at that time they were interested in having someone to take it over at a minimal cost."

Following many late meetings and frequent discussions with the past mayor and city council, the Winsted City Hall Preservation Society got its wish when the keys were handed over to the Colonnas to begin work.

"The absolute first thing we are going to do is the roof, and to get the building winterized. You'll see work taking place soon," said Todd.

"People in town will see work being done there to winterize the building as soon as the next few days," added Kelly.

Throughout the winter, the Colonnas plan to work on the main level and even the exterior of the building.

"Once it's in good enough shape, we hope to attract something neat to rent the space, like a coffee shop, antiques shop, or something like that," said Todd.

Following renovation of the first floor, work will begin on the second floor ­ which will take more time, said Todd. Plans right now are for it to be turned into a nice rental home.

"This isn't going to be a cheap project, either," said Kelly. "That building done properly can be worth a lot of money."

Winsted resident Marie Kieser summed up the mood when she said, "I'm just glad it's staying, glad it's going to be saved. It's always been a part of Winsted, and I hope it always will be."

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