To simply say the Crown Pavilion is your average steel shelter house with a wood roof structure does no justice to the amazing construction of this pavilion.
Around 1900, the pavilion was built on Orchard Island, located on Indian Lake in Ohio. The pavilion was originally built for the Chautauqua Indians. The structure was built as a shelter house for them to hold their meetings, conventions, and other gathering events. At one time, the Chautauqua conventions held on Orchard Island were the best-attended outside of Chautauqua, New York.
Sometime around 1923, the property was purchased by Alexander R. Tarr. He purchased the property as an investment and intended to use the pavilion to attract the people visiting the lake. The pavilion was used for outdoor dances, and the Bob Royce Orchestra regularly played music at the dances. This pavilion was quite the place for people in the surrounding area to go and enjoy an evening on Orchard Island. Weddings, parties, and entertainment of all sorts took place in the pavilion. A hotel was also built next to the pavilion to give people a place to stay for the night.
In 1927 Alexander Tarr sold the property for $350,000 to an Ohio corporation. They intended to make the island a great convention center, similar to when the Chautauqua Indians saw it as the lake’s spotlight. The open pavilion was then enclosed with walls to accommodate conventions and events all year round. The old wood floor that had always been in the pavilion was re-covered with new wood to accommodate roller skating. The enclosed pavilion became the premier place to go to roller skate. Roller skating became the main use for the pavilion. One of the most interesting things about the pavilion was the neon lights installed on the bottom side of each main truss and across the intermediate steel trusses. Once roller skating died out as a recreational sport, the pavilion was not used for anything else. The property owner did not want to upkeep the buildings or the property.
For decades, the buildings on the property sat rusting and rotting away. The pavilion was condemned and became the local dumping ground. People would throw their junk inside the building to not pay to have it hauled to a legal landfill. Sometime around the year 2000, the James F. Dicke Family purchased the property. The Dicke family had the hotel knocked down, and the property cleaned up. The local people were never so happy to see the area being cleaned up finally.
A preliminary cost estimate was put together for the project in June 2002. By July of 2003, the project was a go.
The steel structure was brought in and erected 30 miles away in New Bremen, just as it was on Orchard Island. We located each piece of steel back to its original spot. Two things were in dire need of change when it came to the steel. First, a main center column had major rust and freezing damage. Like most of the structure, this column was assembled using hot rivets. We figured having this center column repaired would be no problem. However, we found that hot rivets are rarely used now; in addition, no one even used hot rivets in this area. We finally were able to find some hot rivets and reassemble the repaired part of the column. The other obstacle we had was regarding any bolted connections. All the existing bolts had deteriorated and needed to be replaced. Finding the same nuts and bolts that were used before was not easy, but they were found, and the erection of the steel began. It took about two weeks to erect the steel back to its original shape.
A 30-year dimensional shingle was installed with aluminum fascia and drip edge. The original pavilion had windows around the upper portion of the roof structure. We installed new aluminum windows and tinted glass to eliminate any maintenance issues. Electric was installed in the pavilion to illuminate the floor area and light up the upper roof area. Electrical outlets were also installed in each of the concrete cone piers. The final touch on the project was the custom weather vane installed at the roof’s highest point. The weather vane was installed for two reasons, namely, decoration and lightning protection. The custom weather vane is a total of 5’-6″ tall. An 18″ tall copper cone was installed at the bottom of the vane. An 8″ ball, directional letters, another four-inch ball, and a wind direction arrow all make up 4’-8″ of the vane. The remaining 10 inches is made up of a copper cardinal head jetted out of ½” solid copper and weighed approximately 13 pounds. This cardinal head is a symbol of the local school mascot.
This project is very special. It’s not every day you get to take a piece of history like this and make it into something very special and useful, useful enough the entire community gets to use the over 100-year-old structure. In addition, the structure is an epicenter of entertainment and gatherings of family and friends in New Bremen, Ohio.
All and all, we feel very honored that we were selected as the contractor to complete this work for the Dicke Family and the Village of New Bremen.
H.A. Dorsten was presented with an Award of Merit from the Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors for our performance on this project.