The interior brick is aged, the paint is faded and the wood floors could use a new seal coat.
But that only makes the former Peterson Art Furniture building that much more appealing for two local brewers.
With two visions that were years in the making now finally coming together, the brewers — and Northfielder David Hvistendal, the owner of the 1886 building — are working to re-create the old days in downtown Faribault through an event center and brewery.
The building is located on Fourth Street Northeast just a block off Central Avenue, and played home to Faribault Furniture before Peterson Art Furniture took over in 1910. The building was also once used for a plastics manufacturer.
“It’s got the look,” said Noah Strouth, referring to the 3,250 square foot basement space in the southwest corner of the building. “It’s a big space and, with the brick and the whole feel, has that historic appeal. When it’s all ready it will have a very familiar look to what it is now, only cleaner.”
Strouth and longtime friend Chris Voegele — they graduated together from Faribault High School in 1990 — met with Hvistendahl, a Northfield attorney, in the summer of 2011 to pitch the idea of opening up a brewery on site.
The timing, they all say, was perfect as Hvistendahl had been looking to remodel the main level space into an event center for years.
“Twelve years ago, Faribault just wasn’t ready,” Hvistendahl said. “There wasn’t much of a commitment to the downtown and historic preservation ... But now, there’s been a lot of positive activity with businesses committing to preservation and working together. The Cheese Cave, the Woolen Mill, they’ve just proven that people want local. They want to buy local, they want to taste local. That’s where I see the brewery coming in and good synergy going on.”
Strouth and Voegele have been perfecting recipes on a small pilot brewing system for about five years. And while Voegele’s degrees in biology and chemistry have proven very helpful, the duo admits that a lot of the tweaking of recipes has to do with what they like in a beer.
Through numerous taste testings with family members and friends and various trips to the local Unsettled Ale Society, Strouth and Voegele have crafted five main recipes — a lager, stout, IPA, American pale ale and nut brown ale — to kick off their brewing company. After meeting with Hvistendahl, they moved forward with registering their brewing company, called Patriot’s Brewing Company, with the state.
Now, when they’re not working their day jobs (Strouth is a shop foreman at Lockerby and Voegele is a biology professor at Minnesota State University-Mankato and EMT in St. Peter) they’ll be preparing the space for Patriot’s Brewing with a targeted opening this fall. New water and sewer lines will be installed during a street reconstruction project this summer.
Once open, it will be the first brewery in Faribault since Fleckenstein Brewery, which opened in the 1850s and was forced into bankruptcy in 1964.
Beer from Patriot’s Brewing will also be served at the bars set up in the event center, to be located on the main and second levels of the Peterson Art Furniture building. Hvistendahl said an entrance will be put in on the west side of the building and there are also plans for a patio area near the front.
The high ceilings, wood rafters and vast windows serve as reminders of the building’s past uses and give a historic feel that Hvistendahl plans to retain. The Fleck’s 42-foot mahogany bar top that was installed in the former Hurry Back bar that Hvistendahl got his hands on years ago along with some walnut spirals will add to the old-time bar theme.
Some costs are yet unknown as the building still needs to be brought up to code, but Hvistendahl is optimistic that the planning stage is running smoothly.
He hopes the event center will play host to wedding receptions, conferences, concerts and any other events locals need a lot of space for. A stage is set up on the main level and, according to Hvistendahl, the acoustics in the building are spot on.
“The advantage is all the open rafters act as a sound baffle so you don’t get a lot of bounce, which can be a big problem in a lot of places,” he said. “We’re aiming for fun, unique, historic, yet comfortable. This is going to be a great space to hold events.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Rodenborg at 333-3128, or follow her on Twitter.com @FDNRebecca