GLENWOOD (AP) -- There was a whole lot of shaking going on when Jerry Lee Lewis played the Lakeside Pavilion Ballroom. Lawrence Welk led his renowned dance band there. And Fats Domino told the crowd there he found his thrill on Blueberry Hill.
But all that remains of ballroom is some charred walls and memories.
The state fire marshal's office is investigating a fire that destroyed the near-century-old structure Saturday.
Mayor John Stone said that in his west-central Minnesota town of nearly 3,000 people there is a "huge amount of sadness" about the ballroom, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1998.
"I couldn't watch it," said longtime resident Treva Benton, 62. "I just started to cry, because everything that was associated with my teenage years was up in flames."
The blaze was discovered by workers who smelled smoke near the attic while preparing for a wedding reception, said David Iverson, city administrator. Although food was being cooked, John Steinbach, a fire marshal for Pope County, said that likely wasn't the cause. Stone said the fire probably started from some electrical circuits near the ceiling.
The 10,000-square-foot site had more than 30 weekend bookings scheduled for this year and nearly another 20 already planned for next year, Iverson said. Besides receptions and anniversaries, it also was the site of dances and holiday parties.
But the ballroom on Lake Minnewaska, about 130 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, is best remembered for its shows during the early days of rock 'n' roll and the dance bands of the 1950s and early '60s.
Benton recalled listening at night from her bedroom window to the sounds of orchestras such as Guy Lombardo's coming from the ballroom.
"The whole community would turn up. Some would pull their cars up, because the (ballroom's) windows were always open," Benton said. "Folks would have their boats scattered across the lake listening to the music."
She recalled some of the other musical stars who shone there: Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Conway Twitty, Sammy Kaye and Harry James.
"They were wonderful. The sound was wonderful, the dance floor was impeccable," she said. "The fans drove from all over -- long distances -- to see big names in our little town."
Joanna Tangen, 73, who worked as a ballroom waitress off and on for about 25 years, remembered when a 50-cent ticket could get you in on both Saturday and Sunday nights. At 16, she met the man who would be her husband during a Saturday night dance.
"We had a lot of fun there ... always a lot of people for those big-name bands," she said. "Friday nights was ballroom dancing; Saturday nights had the old-time dances. Then the teen hops were on Tuesday nights. I should know. My kids went there all the time."
While the city has always been the ballroom's sole owner, Stone said, it has been leased to different operators over the years. They include Tuddy Kaldahl and Harold Brundin, who booked the biggest names and ran the place jointly for more than 30 years.
Although the stars stopped coming, and the dance bands were fewer and more local, the ballroom never went dormant in recent years except when the city closed it for three months for renovation.
The future seemed bright. In the past three years, Stone said, the city spent about $300,000 for new wiring, bathrooms, floors and air conditioning. In March, the Minnesota Historical Society gave the ballroom a $21,000 grant to help pay for new windows. They were installed in April.
And last month, city officials signed a lease with two Anoka businessmen to manage the ballroom and operate a restaurant starting in July. They also had plans to start dinner cruises for up to 70 people on the lake.
While there's no timetable, Stone said he hopes they can rebuild a new ballroom sooner rather than later.
Don Riggs, of Roseville, a saxophonist and leader of the Don Riggs Band, hopes so, too. His 10-piece group played at the ballroom last weekend and was booked for October.
"They cheer and holler when you play a good tune," Riggs, 78, said of the crowds. "You don't (often) get that kind of response anymore."
Riggs also remembers when his trombone player went fishing in his black suit and tie last year during a break in one of their shows.
"We might be able to replace it," said Stone. "There's a huge community sentiment that feels we wouldn't have much of a town without it."
Benton agrees. She wants a place that resembles where she and her husband danced as youngsters.
"I would love to see a building back there," Benton said. "But I'm afraid it might not sound the same."
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