Residents can sip wine and nibble cheese while looking at Oak Creek's Old Town Hall at an open house April 15.
They can peek in the old jail cells, touch the crumbling walls, and peer up at the damaged roof.
And then they can imagine what the building will look like when it is rehabilitated.
The Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg recently received a $162,000 grant to restore Old Town Hall. The building will be used for a museum.
The total project will cost about $216,000. The grant came from the State Historical Fund. Remaining funds are from the Historical Society, the countywide Museum and Heritage Fund tax, and the county.
The building is owned by the town of Oak Creek, which leases it to the Historical Society for $1 a year.
The Historical Society is holding the open house from 4 to 7 p.m. April 15 at Old Town Hall.
The goal of the open house is to "open it up to the public one more time before they start working on it," Renee Johnson said. Johnson is the president of the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.
When rehabilitation begins, it should go quickly, she said. The group hopes the rehabilitation will be finished by October.
"Everything is pretty much on schedule, so we're really excited," Johnson said.
Jan Kaminski, an architect with Mountain Architecture Design Group, is designing the rehabilitation. A lot of research about the historical appearance of the building goes into the plans, he said.
The research is not finished. One question that remains is what color the original stucco was.
As with many old buildings, initial work includes stabilizing the exterior and rehabilitating the roof, floor, doors and windows.
"In my mind, it was close to being endangered," Kaminski said about the building.
The old town hall dates back to 1927, said Mike Yurich, who works to preserve the area's history.
It was built as a campaign promise from the political party opposing the Ku Klux Klan.
Before the 1920s, the town hall was in the old Hamidy building, which housed the Old North Pole Italian store until it went out of business, Yurich said. People were complaining about the condition of the building.
KKK members began winning public offices in Oak Creek, a trend that was taking place across the county and beyond. They soon made the construction of a new town hall a political issue, Yurich said.
Before the 1924 or 1925 elections, a political party opposing the KKK ran under the promise that if elected, it would build a new town hall. That party won, and a few years later, the town hall was built, Yurich said.
Originally, the town hall held town government, the town's jail and police department, and the town's library. Each function had its own door. The old town hall was built out of brick, then covered in stucco.
The jail was used until the 1950s or 1960s, Yurich said. When the building was open last Labor Day, people had tales about the jail.
"You could hear all these guys saying, 'Well, I spent my time there,'" he said.
Town government used the building until the early 1990s, when the new town hall was built.
Recently, it has been used as a meeting place and shop for the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.
The renovation is of huge importance to Oak Creek, Yurich said.
Steamboat Springs, Yampa and Hayden were more ranching communities, and Oak Creek was a community of miners, he said. Many ranching families were careful to save special possessions and stories, and pass them down through the generations. But a lot of people who lived in Oak Creek emigrated from poorer areas of Eastern Europe, and were concerned only about making enough money to leave, Yurich said.
"They didn't have time to think about preservation," he said.
With a museum in a historic building, more people might be interested in sharing their stories and the items they have saved throughout the years, he said.
"It does bring a lot of memories back," Yurich said. "I think when we get it renovated, a lot more will come back."