You can't miss it when you drive through the Iowa Great Lakes the Roof Garden Ballroom. With a storied history, it is now getting a new lease on life.
It has been an iconic piece of Arnolds Park since the early 1920s, it survived a tornado in 1968 before being closed down 20 years later. In 2018, Arnolds Park broke ground on a brand new Roof Garden.
"Right before this was a metal building basically that had been put up for concerts and events and served itself very well, but was time for a new facility," said Paul Plumb who has seen the Roof Garden come back to life during his time at the park. "And in our Restore the Park campaign that we were doing, that was one of the first things that we wanted to do was put a new Roof Garden up and get just a world-class facility that we could host concerts in and attract better shows, even than we were having."
The facility may be brand new, but elements and the feel of the original building are still there, with classic posters and memorabilia hanging on the walls and the original flooring part of the new design. The new facility has high ceilings and exposed beams, but the exterior design mimics that of the original.
"We have these booths along the street side that are just nice," Plumb said of the ruby red U-shaped booths along the wall. "Kind of reminds people that were in the original Roof Garden what that was like then."
Trying to make it the same as the original Roof Garden is kind of what the plan was but to have all the upgrades of modern facilities.The giant red Roof Garden letters on the front of the building are hard to miss for anyone driving into Arnolds Park.
"So 2019, we opened the event center and opened the facility in August," Plumb said. "I had about six months or eight months of use of it and then the pandemic hit and closed her down basically for a few months."
Since reopening a 2nd time, the Roof Garden has been the place to be for weddings, proms, concerts, comedians and everything in between.
"I mean, everybody loves it," Plumb said with a laugh. "The first thing people say when they walk in the door that hasn't been here before usually is 'wow'. We've had performers walk in and say, 'are we in Iowa?' You know, that's the normal thing. That's where we're getting a lot of that from, the performers that come here are, "boy if I would have known that this area was this nice. I would have planned on staying here for a few days."
The new Roof Garden with its history built into its new walls will remain a staple in the Iowa Great Lakes region for years to come.
"We are really blessed the whole facility was built during that time where we're doing the restore the park campaign, so totally funded by the community and donors," Plumb said. "So that's something that you don't find that very many places that we have so many supporters that help us out and do things like that. Make it possible to have facilities like this."
The Roof Garden reopened in August 2019 with the original Tommy James and The Shondells who also played the original Roof Garden. Several other artists have since returned to the new facility as well.
For a full list of events and more information, visit roofgardenballroom.com.
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