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Bits and Pieces for Aug. 17
One of the more interesting real estate deals of the season took place at noon on Thursday.

The Hoffman House hotel was sold to an Antigo businessman who will start sprucing the building up nearly at once. There is some peeling paint and other cosmetic work that needs attention.

He asked that I not name him until he is prepared to have an opening reception, and I can certainly respect that.

Almost everything goes in the sale, except for a number of pieces of valuable antique furniture.

The building will continue as a rental facility for apartments and when all of the projects are done, the kitchen and dining room will likely be fired up.

The new owner said it won’t be a restaurant, but will offer a place for special programs, small weddings and class reunions and perhaps more as time wears on.

I’m pleased to see it was sold, and will keep operating as apartments get fixed up a bit.

And some day, perhaps something from the kitchen.

“I even got those wonderful fluted napkins,” the new owner said, recalling the table decorations from times gone by.


Speaking of times gone by, the conversation reminded me of events 33 years ago when two strangers met me and became friends.

Dick and Nan Ness bought the Hoffman House from Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Kaske. At that point, the building was essentially a tear-down.

The Nesses, moved to Antigo because Nan was a native. They were looking for a hotel to buy — and found it.

During the next months, carpenters and craftsmen worked nearly nonstop on the project.

Room sizes were changed, bathrooms installed, the bar got a real facelift and a piano bar was added. A new kitchen and dining room were also constructed and equipped.

An elevator was installed to reach the three levels of hotel rooms.

But changes in the nature of the traveling public led to those hotel rooms that were fairly idle being remodeled into apartments, which they are today.

I was in the building a few months ago and paused in the dining room and lounge. The piano is still in the bar, and I remember a performer by the name of Don Hamilton who played there decades ago.


For some reason or another, the lawn chair I had tucked into my hedge years back was thrown, or blew into my driveway this week.

I’ve seen it there as I worked on the hedge and the lawn, noticed it was dirty after sitting out there for a few years without being used. But all of a sudden it was in the middle of the driveway.


I borrowed the chair from friends because it blended into the hedge far better than my white plastic models do. 

The elderly gentleman walked in the early morning hours and I had known him for a number of years as I delivered his newspaper on Arctic Street after one of the carriers got sick or quit.

Then he moved over to an apartment on First Avenue and at the crack of dawn, he was out there walking. 

He would be sitting on the planter box at Marty’s Shell, and it seemed another stop was in order on the way home to First Avenue.

The chair got used, I kept it clean and if I was home when he was there, we visited. A few mornings, we even eyed a vintage Ford I own — he had one years and years ago when the original Henry Ford made them.

But it has been a few years since I’ve seen him at Marty’s or in the green chair, and it was probably time to move on.

It is just another little reminder that our lives are changing, and perhaps quite quickly.


Speaking of those changes, back in the day when I was a regular on the ski slopes in Upper Michigan, there were assurances that time could be saved by taking a shortcut off Highway 51 to get to Indianhead Mountain in Wakefield, Mich.

We never used the route as passing through Hurley and Ironwood was important to secure lodging or just to refresh my memory from years earlier when I was employed in that fusspot.

One of the communities that shortcut passed through was Winchester, so when it popped up in the real estate listings this week, it caught my eye.

Located on Old Highway O, the home is being offered for $13 million. Yes, you read that correctly.

The home is in a 2,900 acre private forest preserve with 250 acres of lakes and steams.

At the center of the property is a lake with an island, and that’s where the residence is located.

Dating back to the late 1800s, before there were roads in the area, it has been updated to mirror 21st Century elegance and luxury.

The advertisement suggests this is a perfect opportunity for a firm, or family to own and reside in a compound in the true northwoods. 

It has a one-story home with six baths and six bedrooms.

The advertisement suggests there are private airports to provide “anytime” access to the facility.

I would love to know who buys it and how much is paid, but that’s pretty tough to learn.

I’d also like to know who built it and what his role was in the state and what occurred there in the days before real roads.


I reported in the last “Bits and Pieces” that Racks on the south side of Antigo had suddenly closed, and now it is just as suddenly reopened and is operating again. Sometimes things can change rapidly.


Speaking of change, the Badgerland Classics and Customs show Sunday has moved to Peaceful Valley Park in Antigo. It has been held at the Langlade County Fairgrounds for decades — and it was likely time for a shift.

Spectators still get in for free, but the show officials said that they should not park in the St. John Catholic Church lot before noon, when the last Mass of the day is over.

There are other parking opportunities in the area, too.

A map of the show layout is printed today on the back page.


Have a busy weekend.

2016 space
612 Superior Street
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

612 Superior Street,
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

*Member WNA & NNA

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