MENOMONEE FALLS - In a way, the floors, ceilings, art work and bookshelves at the Wisconsin Athletic Club in Menomonee Falls can, indeed, talk.
Listen carefully and they tell a unique story unfamiliar to even the club’s most regular patrons.
Bleachers from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Kolf Sports Center could have easily been destined for a landfill. Instead, they have been recycled and repurposed for use throughout the Menomonee Falls club.
The floors for the Mind Body studio and Cycle Studio stage, the ceiling clouds by the front desk, Club Pub and hallway, art work on the walls of the Club Pub, fitness center, locker room and manager’s office and shelves and sign bases throughout the club all share a unique history.
“Bleachers that provided seating for hundreds of thousands of people at UW-Oshkosh sporting events, graduations and concerts are used throughout our facility in design elements most of our members probably don’t even know about,” said Chez Misko, chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Athletic Club.
The idea was sparked during a conversation with wood floor vendor ProStar Surfaces, Misko explained.
“We were asking if (ProStar) had any reclaimed wood for a wall in the bar and they mentioned the Kolf Center bleachers,” Misko said. “It was such a neat idea, we found ways to use the wood in what has ended up being almost every room in the club.”
The bleachers were removed from the Kolf Sports Center when it was updated in 2012, and have found new life at the WAC.
“What I really love about it is the story behind the bleachers continues now at our facility because the way we’ve reclaimed and repurposed everything gives people something really to connect with,” Misko said. “There’s certain a warmth in having the wood throughout the facility.”
The Kolf Sports Center was built in 1971 and named for Robert Kolf, a long-time coach, instructor and athletic director at the university.
Historically, the venue hosted hundreds of university and high school commencement ceremonies and sporting events, as well as military science training. Influential musicians like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and former President Barack Obama all graced the stage at some point, as well.
Wood from the bleachers was also used for partitions at the ProStar Offices as well as wall coverings for Bray Architects in Milwaukee.
“It’s really an honor to have the opportunity to continue the legacy of such a unique story right here at the club in Menomonee Falls,” Misko said.