Building transforms from Ro-Da to Five Wynds

Workmen are shown in 1949 pausing during the construction of a roller rink at the north edge of Spring Valley just north of the Four Winds Cafe. From left are Richard Kemple, Donovan Boelter, Don Larson, Ed Van Grevenhof, Lou Kemple, Al Sisson and Herb Boelter. The machine was owned by Miller Bros. Construction.
By : 
Mary Jo Dathe
Glimpses of Yesteryear

We have been reading in the Spring Valley Tribune that an old building on the north edge of town is being transformed into an event center to be called the Five Wynds.  Sharon Jahn, local historian, suggested that we resurrect a column from December 2006, written 12 years ago, regarding the "Ro-Da."  Bless the couple redoing the building as an event center as it obviously is in demand.

Sharon mentioned that the 1949-50 era was an important time, not only for Henderson's Motel, but other businesses in town.  Joe Mlinar had a great deal to do with entertainment — his Torium (our present community center) was often busy with countless endeavors.  It was a recreational hall of sorts, offering space for dancing, roller skating, bowling, basketball, handball and movies.  His State Theatre on upper Broadway presented movies in color by 1930.  Mlinar built the outdoor theater on the north edge of town in 1949 (near where the former Alco is situated right now) which operated until 1984.

For refreshments, the Oak Drive-In, in a log cabin across the road, was opened by Paul Bartz.  In 1956, Roger Simpson purchased what had become the A & W Drive-In from Bartz, and built a new food stand at that location, still a popular spot.  Further north on Highway 63, the Four Winds Cafe was a well-known truck stop and good eating establishment.

Apparently these successful enterprises spurred yet another business when the building seen in the accompanying photo was erected in the fall of 1949.  At right, we see the curved roof of what would become the roller-rink/dance hall, the Ro-Da.  The builder, Herb Boelter, and his workmen have taken a break for a “photo-op” by the Tribune.

The large crane was a hand-crafted machine made by Al and Geoff Miller, innovative machinists and creative geniuses who built and/or repaired countless hard or light metal projects for more than 50 years as Miller Motor Co.  But that's another story.

Those seen in the photo: Don Larson, Ed Van Grevenhof and Al Sisson worked for Millers, and Donovan Boelter worked for his dad, Herb.  The roller rink and dance hall was to be operated by Louis Kemple and his son, Richard, and a contest was held to select a name for the latest hot spot in town.  The winning entry was "The Ro-Da."

In the 1950s, young people flocked to the roller rink to enjoy hundreds of "rounds" on their own or rented skates, accompanied by the latest music over the loudspeakers.  Many folks remember dancing there to "old-time" as well as "new-time" music.  In later years, Ed Ahrens used the building for storage of restaurant supplies and his wife, Sally, opened a store on the west side featuring craft supplies.  The "crafts" sign was still on the north side until recently. 

The renovation is being done by Matt and Cheyenne Kolling under their company, K 5 Properties, LLC.  See the May 2 issue of the Tribune for details.  What a transformation it is, from an eye-sore to a lovely building next to Rack's Bar and Grill, and we look forward to many events as well as those at the downtown community center.  The building will accommodate 199 guests, food will be offered by caterers, and there is plenty of parking.  A bar and a stage area will be part of the place.  Good luck to all!