Jamie Taylor/River News
The roof of the Crystal Rock Roller Rink on U.S. Highway 8, west of Rhinelander, collapsed Saturday evening, Feb. 1, 2020. The venue hosted such musical luminaries as Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash during its heyday as a ballroom. The owner of the property told the River News Monday he had intended to demolish the structure and construct storage units.
2/4/2020 7:30:00 AM Roof of historic ballroom collapses
A link to Rhinelander's past suffered major damage on Saturday when the roof of the Crystal Rock Roller Rink on U.S. Highway 8 West collapsed.
Even Monday morning, people with memories of the rink's heyday were stopping on Highway 8 to reflect and take pictures.
Before it became a skating rink, the building was called the Crystal Rock Ballroom, and concerts were held there. One of the biggest acts that played there was Buddy Holly and the Crickets on July 13, 1958.
One of the pioneers of rock and roll, Holly's career was cut short on Feb. 3, 1959 when he died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa along with Ritchie Valens and "The Big Bopper" J.P. Richardson.
The building had been unused and for sale for many years when it was purchased by Louis Barbera in October. According to town of Crescent Clerk Tracy Hartman, Barbera came before the town board in December for an administrative review permit for the property.
"Initially, they were looking at keeping that building and turning the actual building into storage units," Hartman said. "But then it was determined through the DNR that it wouldn't work because the way runoff (water) was hitting Highway 8. So they were going to be tearing it down and building new storage units."
When reached by phone Monday, Barbera confirmed that the plan was to demolish the building.
"The demo permit was just issued today," Barbera said. "It was going to be demolished and Mother Nature helped in that way. I'll be cleaning it (site) up as soon as possible."
Barbera declined to answer any other questions.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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