$1.25 million donation offered to save Sturgeon Bay’s Granary

The Sturgeon Bay granary building, seen October 26, 2017. (WLUK/Ben Krumholz)

STURGEON BAY (WLUK) -- On the brink of being knocked down, an anonymous donor has offered $1.25 million to save and maintain Sturgeon Bay's Granary building.

However, safety concerns might trump the money when it comes to the historic structure's future.

Crime tape and safety barriers surround the Granary. Last week, the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department ordered it to be torn down within 30 days.

“I was shocked and appalled,” said Christie Weber, President of Sturgeon Bay Historical Society. “It was the center of all commerce when we were based as an agricultural community.”

The removal decision is due to structural and health concerns.

Since the ruling, the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society has been searching for money to fix the issues and a way to challenge the fire department's decision. On Thursday, an anonymous family answered one of those requests with the donation commitment.

“I was in tears, I am probably am now” said Kelly Catarozoli, who is a member of the historical society and Sturgeon Bay’s city council. “The generosity is amazing.”

While appreciative, the historical society realizes the money might not be enough to save the building.

“I think some people just maybe don't have the vision to see what it could be restored,” said Catarozoli.

FOX 11 went to the fire department to talk to Chief Tim Dietman. He didn't want to talk on camera, but told us he stands by last week's raze and remove decision.

Chief Dietman believes the only chance of appeal is through the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. He says the land owner, which is the city, must make a hearing request.

“We have the money ready,” said Weber. “We have the contractors picked. We're ready to address the safety issues based on the city's engineering studies that they did just a few years ago.”

The historical society hopes the city council will vote for an appeal request at its meeting in two weeks.

The Granary building was added to the state's historic registry in August. The historical society says it could be added to the national registry within the next few weeks.

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