Woodland Hotel owners tap into the past 

Nicole Rogers

Woodland Hotel owners tap into the past 

2 min.
June 10, 2022

Seventy-five years ago the Lehnen family renovated the Woodland Hotel Tap Room, a tavern tucked under the main floor of the showcase hotel built by Owen founder, John S. Owen. In March 2015, this grand old hotel was purchased by Dick Peterson, Larry and Donelle Hodnett and Tim and Karen Swiggum. In November of 2015, the Woodland Hotel was accepted into the State Historical Register. Since then, the current owners have taken much time, care, and effort to remodel it, starting from the top and doing most of the work themselves. Most of the original woodwork was restored, keeping to the original early 1900s appearance. Apartments and hotel rooms are all available. And now, as of May 2022 with operator’s license and liquor license approved, the Tap Room is now serving drinks, including Wisconsin favorites - Old Fashions and Bloody Marys. 

Stripping back to the Past.

Sandblasting the old tin ceiling.

Many locals may remember this basement bar when it was called the Cavern Tavern. It was very popular and hosted many live bands. Those who recall the Cavern Tavern will not recognize the place now. Well, except for the bar which has been beautified and looks better than ever. The Tap Room has been stripped of almost all signs of the previous tavern. The suspended ceiling was removed along with the plaster and wood paneling on the walls. 

“We basically destroyed everything before we fixed it,” said Larry Hodnett. “Once we got to the brick on the walls, we had to grind the brick and put on a sealer.”
“And we had to tear off all the ceiling grid work and patch the tin ceiling,” added Dick Peterson. “After the patching, we sandblasted the tin.”

“There was an old building across the street, we took the tin off of the back side of that and we used that on some of the walls and pillars. We took out the archway and opened it up and built columns and put tin on them. We refinished all the wood; it was pretty much top to bottom remodel.” said Hodnett.

The bar was not original to the first tavern but is definitely antique. In fact, the round mirror mounted on the back bar was dated 1946. An original Tap Room sign and Tap Room coins were discovered which may come back into use, as well.

Bar after beautification.

People have been impressed with the remodel some of the comments heard were “Wow” (while walking around with their mouths open), “I didn’t realize that ceiling was above the drop ceiling,” and “Now I see what took so long.”

Current and Future Plans

The owners of the new Tap Room held a soft opening for friends and family in May and have already hosted a Bridal Shower. It will be available for small events such as showers and other parties. 

“We are working towards putting in a small kitchen for pizzas, paninis, sandwiches,” added Tim Swiggum.

Orginal brick braught back to life.
“Most people who see it think of a speakeasy,” said Larry Hodnett. “I would like to see it become a destination for people and not just locals, people from all over.”

All are invited to stop in for a soft or hard drink and view how this over-a-century-old tavern has been stripped back to it’s former glory. The Tap Room is open Tues.-Sat. from 4 until close. A grand opening will be held June 11 from 2 p.m. with the Blue Moon Band playing 6-10 p.m.

This article was orginally reported by
Nicole Rogers

Nicole Rogers, lives in Owen, WI, and is the co-editor for the Sentinel & Rural News.