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Wolfe Building gets new life

February 8, 2018 GMT

Aaron and Jaclyn Ross of Omaha have purchased the former Wolfe Building at the corner of Fourth and E Streets.

They have been hard at work stripping the old interior of six second floor apartments on the south side of the building. Their son Ryker makes the trip from Omaha on some days.

The Rosses purchased the building from Monte Froehlich of U.S. Property in Lincoln. Froehlich bought the building for $29,500 in late 2014 from the Knights of Columbus Tihen Council 1717.

Aaron Ross wasn’t surprised to hear that the building is described as the most solid older building in town.

“I wouldn’t disagree,” he said. “If you’ve seen the basement under here, it’s like a parking garage.”

The Rosses have been investing in rental property in Omaha. Aaron, a 2002 graduate of Rising City High School, said he learned about the building from his dad, who had talked to Adam Rerucha.

Rerucha had a short-lived animal food business in the former Knights of Columbus Hall, and did some work for Aaron’s father.

The Rosses plan to renovate six apartments into new living space. The old bank space on the ground floor and south side office still don’t have plans.

“We’re going to make some really nice apartments,” he said. “It’s not going to be like upstate new York nice, but nice.”

There are five two-bedroom apartments with relatively large kitchens and closets, and even the one single bedroom unit has a large living room.

Ross likes the location.

“Look at all the amenities nearby,” he said. “You can walk to Subway, a nice Mexican restaurant, a barbecue place, Ace Hardware -- everything you can want is within a block and a half.”

The historic nature of the building sealed the deal.

“We love the building. “It looks great,” he said.

Such buildings are trending, he said.

“You can live in a building that has concrete columns out there,” he said.

Ross is using his construction experience to remodel the apartment. He has bids coming on the heating and air conditioning units. Floor plans won’t change.

In larger cities, apartments of this size in historic buildings can go for $1,500 to $2,000 a month.

Recalling his high school days, Ross remembers the area as a good place to live. He attended school in Columbus until a family friend suggested Rising City.

“My junior prom was in the Thorpe Opera House,” he said. “I knew David City was a good little spot. I like David City.”

So far the main setback for the developers is the old KC Hall. Because it was used briefly as a store it isn’t grandfathered in under rules for public halls. And under the new rules, it’s large enough it would require fire sprinklers. Ross said its plans are still up in the air.

Ross said he was interested in getting photos of the building and learning its history.

For 45 of the Council’s first 100 years, the Knights owned the building at Fourth and E streets, one of the most historic corners in David City.

The Council bought the Wolfe Building in 1969 to replace its hall a block to the south that was damaged by a fire Dec. 31 1967. The KC Hall occupies space that had earlier had served as a café and two incarnations as a department store.

The Knights hosted bingo every Friday night until late 2014. Most weeks it hosted a funeral dinner gathering, maybe two. The list of other events is long: farm seminars, family dinners, political forums, pancake feeds, church soup suppers. Hundreds of soccer team photos were snapped in the basement over the previous decade. In more recent years, it has hosted food distributions, where folks in need of help come to fill their pantries.

The old bank façade projected strength during the town-building phase of the early 20th century. The corner played a key role in the development of Butler County. A neighbor to the former David City Library and across from the County Courthouse, the corner has seen good times and bad pass by one of the county’s main thoroughfares.