The DL Pavilion

As lake weather approaches, it’s a little sad to learn that city leaders continue to have problems with the Detroit Lakes Pavilion. The Pavilion is old, more than a hundred years old. With age, come problems, not the least of which has been continuing drainage issues for the building, which in 1915 was set just a little too close to the lake.

According to DL-Online, plans have been drawn for a new four-seasons building that would include better bathrooms, parking, even classrooms. But that would mean the original building would come down.

As a teenager, the Detroit Lakes Pavilion was part of an excellent weekend trifecta for many of us in our part of North Dakota and Minnesota. If you had a car, gas money and your parents would let you–in some cases , even if they wouldn’t–you could hit the L.R.C, the Legion Recreation Center in Halstad on Friday nights, Herb Johnson’s Barn near Arthur, ND, on Saturdays and the DL Pavilion on Sunday nights. Occasionally, for variety, there was the Maple Lake Pavilion near Mentor, MN.

The DL Pavilion hosted acts, both local and national, like The Fabulous Flippers from Lawrence, Kansas, and The Cornerstones and The Church Keys from Grand Forks. Jerry Lee Lewis also performed there, I believe. The local Unbelievable Uglies were practically the house band. I remember hearing Chicago’s Buckinghams, fresh off a pot bust, or so we heard. Bobby Vee was a regular, especially on Fourth of July weekends. The owner of a cottage across the lake, Bobby didn’t have far to go to work.

Just across Washington Street was another, much smaller music venue, the Green Door. It appealed to a slightly older, perhaps more “sophisticated” crowd. When I was very young it featured live jazz. If you were underage it was tough to get into. They served alcohol. They also carded, but not always all that carefully. That is to say phony IDs were much more easily replicated then. The original Green Door is long gone, although another bar in another lake shore location carries the name today.

Nothing has been set in stone by the city and everything takes money, but a public hearing on the Pavilion’s future will be held May 22.

In many ways I hate to see old buildings like the DL Pavilion go. Like many other people, I have a history with them.

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