History of Commons Park Bandstands
summarized from: Liebenow, Roland. (December 28, 2006). "Lake Mills Commons Park: Its Evolution." The Lake Mills Leader.
"By order of the Village Board a bandstand was erected in the center of the park in 1880 and remained there until 1884 ... when it was decided to move the bandstand from the center of the park and place it over [a] this well house."
A well had been dug on the southwest corner of the park to provide fire protection, at which time an artesian well was exposed. To conceal it, the well was cased and a well house was built over it to create a public drinking site. The bandstand remained on the southwest corner of the park until 1911 when the city decided to move it back to the center of the park.
The new bandstand had a concrete floor, slate roof and basement bathroom, being built for about $1000. As the band grew in size, the bandstand became too small and a temporary 6' high wooden bandstand was built in 1936 in conjunction with the Lake Mills centennial.
In 1938 a permanent bandstand was built using cement block and was constructed over the older then-leveled bandstand. This new "bandstand had metal railings, sound amplifiers and modern basement restrooms, but it lacked a roof." It was used until 1994 when the structure was updated, including a roof and landscaping, and given the name, the Franklin Else Memorial Bandstand. The restrooms were removed and basement ventilation covered in favor of the landscaping.
In 2013, the Lake Mills City Band donated $5000 to improve the woefully inadequate lighting, the Chamber of Commerce donated almost $1000 in funds remaining from the city's 175th anniversary celebration held in 2011, and the event-based fundraising group Funds for Lake Mills donated $1500 that was raised from their popular event, The Legendary Race. These funds served as impetus to assess the bandstand in its entirety and the Franklin Else Memorial Bandstand Reconstruction Group organized. With the approval of the City Parks Board and City Council, the Group formally began fundraising in 2014. The first improvement made was the installation of new LED ceiling lighting.
In the summer of 2015 we painted the bandstand, added accent lighting to the upper roof soffit and cupola, and consolidating the electrical service. In 2016 we hope to refurbish the floor and complete the project with accent grillwork and railings while replacing the current wooden railroad ties with a concrete block retaining wall.
To achieve our goal, we continue to request contributions. Please consider making a tax-deductable donation to help the reconstruction project by printing this page, filling out the form at the bottom and send it to the address listed with your contribution, or simply clicking on the donate button in the sidebar!
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FRANKLIN ELSE BANDSTAND
P.0. Box 33
Lake Mills, WI 53551