Pierre has reservation at new Earthwood Inn
Pierre the Voyageur is moving out of Two Harbors, but not very far away. The owners of the Earthwood Inn have purchased the 50-year-old stucco and wire mesh statue and plan to move him soon to the motel and bar grounds just past the western border of the city.
The move will make Pierre visible from the four-lane Highway 61 and Scenic Highway 61.
The purchase is part of a plan by owners Eric Potts and Sandra Fritz to refurbish the Earthwood Inn property. They purchased it from the Radosevich family in November. Tony and Marg Radosevich had owned the Earthwood Inn since 1971, when they changed the name from House of Sweden.
Fritz grew up in the Twin Cities area and the couple has a summer home in the area. She said they had been looking for a business opportunity when the Earthwood went up for sale. "We figured it was a good time to buy," she said.
They also have a home in Florida and the Earthwood reminded them of the eclectic bars in Key West.
Pierre also worked into their plans when developers at his current site sold the property late last year and asked for bids on the statue to have him removed.
Fritz said she was reminded of visits with her family to the Paul Bunyan statue in Brainerd as a girl. He talked, and it "felt so special," she said. She said it would be "cool to give that to some other boy or girl."
Fritz said Pierre will sit at a "great entry point to Two Harbors" to welcome new generations to the North Shore.
Longtime Earthwood manager Paul Belsito said keeping Pierre in the community was the priority.
Earthwood plans to have fund-raisers to fully restore the statue that once fronted a museum and gift shop when built in 1960.
"This was a large financial commitment on the part of our new owners, but they felt very strongly about Pierre remaining in Two Harbors," Belsito said. Details on the sale price were not disclosed.
The plan was to move Pierre as early as this week.
The Earthwood will begin a campaign called "Prepare Pierre" to restore the statue to its original condition, "which involves Pierre's head turning, his eyes lighting up, and speaking to visitors," Belsito said.
Fritz said there is still debate going on with her husband about bringing a paddle back to his right hand. It was stolen a few years ago. She said he might look odd with a paddle on dry land, and suggested an axe.
Belsito expects the cost of moving and restoring Pierre will be greater than the purchase price. "The first special will start after Pierre arrives," he said. The Earthwood will sell soup on its menu with a dollar from every bowl going toward the cost of moving Pierre. "We hope that the community embraces this move and is as excited as we are about keeping Pierre here," Belsito said.
"The history of Pierre will be intertwined with Two Harbors for many years to come, and that is something we can all be happy about," he said.
Pierre wasn't welcome at his current space, an empty lot next to the Voyageur Motel, across from Lakeview Cemetery in a busy commercial area. Developer Mike Polcaro offered the statue on bids to local businesses when he began negotiations with a "major chain" that has plans to move into the lot but doesn't have room to keep Pierre or the small office on the property.
Polcaro has not revealed what will go in at the site.
The Radosevich family purchased the House Of Sweden, a small restaurant and motel on the outskirts of Two Harbors, in 1971. They added a bar and renamed it Earthwood.
A press release on the sale last fall called the Earthwood "a refuge and second home for many in the community" for more than 40 years.
Tony and Marg's daughter, Stacy, and son-in-law Belsito ran the business from 1997 until last year. "With Tony's passing three years ago and Marg relocating to an apartment in Two Harbors, a decision was made to sell the Earthwood," the release said.
Potts and Fritz have been working since November to repair much of the "worn-out infrastructure" at Earthwood. They made no changes in staffing.
"The customer base continues to grow, and you are likely to see new ideas implemented along with the things you have become accustomed to seeing," the release stated.
Pierre is one of those big changes coming to the business.
"He will remain a part of Two Harbors while moving to a site where he will welcome every vehicle entering the town via Highway 61," Belsito said.