In the 1930s, the depletion of the hardwood forests, drought, and the Great Depression brought hard times to the Northwoods. The Town of Jacobs, in which Mellen lies, appealed for federal aid, but even the influx of almost six hundred young men with the CCC, who planted trees, cut new roads, and erected bridges, did not revive the community. When a local man became superintendent of Ashland County’s WPA, the town secured construction funds for a pavilion in Marion Park. Unlike the CCC, which brought in young men from elsewhere, the WPA created jobs for local unemployed residents. WPA projects thus provided communities with more immediate economic assistance and became symbols of pride for the participants. The WPA hired local carpenters Huber and Kasin to design the pavilion. Their octagonal plan with a domed roof provided a large unobstructed space for dancing and roller skating. The dome is constructed of sixteen bowstring trusses, which reach from the top of the walls to the peak of the roof. Wooden knee braces, collar ties, and rafters provide stability and rigidity to this light framing system. To resist outward thrust, steel rods extend across the room, tying the bottom end of each truss to the one opposite. Concrete piers frame the side walls, which are sheathed in wooden shiplap siding, divided by a continuous window sill. Bands of tall, narrow multipaned windows provide light, and double doors pierce every other wall. Inside, a hardwood floor, a nearly continuous bench along the walls, and a stage for musicians created an ideal space for community gatherings.
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Marion Park Pavilion
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