New owner of Norway Hall upgrading space

By On September 05, 2018

New owner of Norway Hall upgrading space

New owner of Norway Hall upgrading space Adam Nelson (left) and David Rochel volunteer their time moving benches back into place in the ballroom in Norway Hall on Monday morning after the floor was redone. The Hall is now the home of Superior Ballroom Dance. Bob King / 1 / 3A bright red door marks the entrance to Norway Hall at 21 N. Lake Ave. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com2 / 3David Rochel (left), a volunteer, and Darren Franco, manager of the Superior Ballroom Dance Studio, move furniture into a dressing room at Norway Hall after it was repainted. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Andrea Kuzel loves the phrase her designer has been throwing around: The Norwegian narrative.

“We’re working to preserve that heritage here,” Kuzel said inside the expansive King Harald’s Hall on the top floor of Duluth’s historic Norway Hall â€" which she now owns.

With the blessing of the local Norwegian-American community, Kuzel has been updating the floors and walls and chandelie rs of the Lake Avenue building to suit her business, Superior Ballroom Dance Studio.

“Most of us feel pretty good about the sale of the building; I feel particularly good about the people who bought it,” said Julie Morgan, president of the Norway Hall Association. “In my mind it always had to be we’d sell the building. We had been thinking about it because of the age of many of our members and the inaccessibility of the building, the downtown location.”

What is now called Norway Hall was built in 1908 and since the 1940s has been at the center of the Norwegian-American presence in Duluth, Morgan said. (About 16.5 percent of Duluthians have Norwegian ancestry, according to the Census Bureau).

In 2011 the building hosted Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja during a much-lauded visit.

"What's wonderful is the way a lodge like this helps people keep in touch with their heritage," Ruth Nerhaugen told the News Tribune during the visit. "You can lose it so easily."

These days very few Sons of Norway lodges own their own meeting spaces, Morgan said. That’s why Kuzel has been working so closely with the Sons of Norway Nortun Lodge 1-016 and the Norway Hall Association to make sure she doesn’t paint over the past.

“It’s important to stay within the Norwegian narrative,” Kuzel said, evoking the phrase used by Suzi Vandersteen of the Kitchee Gammi Design Co. “It’ll be new and gorgeous but still Norway Hall.”

The Norway Hall Association sold the building for $181,000 this summer, according to county records.

For Kuzel, acquiring the building is another step in the dramatic dance that led her and her husband to Duluth and kept them here. A few years ago Kuzel wasn’t even sure she’d be here this long.

“I said three years, then we’re heading back to St. Paul,” she said. “Now we’re really stuck,” she added with a laugh.

Kristi Stokes, president o f the Greater Downtown Council, said it has been “fun to watch this success story unfolding.”

“Andrea has so much energy and such a passion for our downtown; I’m excited that she was able to transition from being a tenant at Norway Hall to now being the property owner,” Stokes said. “Superior Ballroom Dance is such a great asset to our cultural and entertainment offerings downtown, and Norway Hall has been a perfect fit for them. They are keeping that history of the building, and they’ll be making their own.”

Superior Ballroom Dance Studio opened in 2012 and moved to Norway Hall in 2015. With hundreds of couples taking classes, Kuzel is looking many years ahead to keep up with the growth.

As part of that planning, Kuzel said she hopes both of the ground-floor tenants â€" Prove Gallery and the Nordic Center â€" will stick around as her studio swells upstairs.

“It grew much faster than we anticipated,” Kuzel said. “Now I’m mana ging a studio, and a building â€" and two little boys.”

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Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune. (218) 723-5329AdvertisementSource: Google News Norway | Netizen 24 Norway

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