‘Inn’ is an invitation: Pine Tree Inn renovated, reopened to the public

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By Steve Van Kooten

 

Good things take time.

That’s how Jackie (Nolan) Rose put it when she sat down at the Pine Tree Inn, the tavern located at the intersection of Wisconsin 60 and U.S. Highway 18 near Bridgeport, with her husband, Patrick Rose, to discuss the extensive renovations done on the business.

Patrick and Jackie acquired the property in June 2021. They leased the property to a third party for a year and then made plans to renovate and reopen the business. What started as a makeover became an operation.

According to Patrick, the building needed extensive work. “We had hoped to have things up and running Fall 2022, but when we took a closer look, we saw what was required would take more time. We also needed to engage engineers to get plans drawn up to submit to the state for their approval.”

They installed new insulation on the interior and exterior sides of the walls, repaired the south wall, tore out the drop ceiling to increase the height in the building’s main room and replaced the roof. The building’s arteries — the plumbing and electricity — were pulled out and replaced. Other buildings on the property were either repaired or demolished.

Patrick said the local fire department and many others in the community were part of the renovation process.

“To come into this [building], if it was raining, there would be pots to catch the rain,” said Patrick. “It needed a new roof, new siding and new everything.”

The hardwood floor and the stage were a few interior features kept in the original building.

Despite the changes, Jackie said they were able to retain much of the inn’s profile. “The footprint of the establishment hasn’t changed, and the layout hasn’t changed. We felt it had good bones and flow.”

The Pine Tree Inn’s bones are old and time-tested, dating back to the 1940s, when the business opened and became a watering hole for the local farmers. Since then, the inn has changed names and hands, but its status as a community gathering spot has remained.

“In the forties, people remember a lot of bands and dancing, or in the fifties and sixties. It’s had multiple owners, many of whom are still in the community,” said Jackie.

“It’s been in our community for a long time, and it’s kind of iconic,” said Patrick. The inn has a wide watershed, frequently attracting people from Prairie du Chien, Wauzeka, Crawford and Grant County, and all kinds of people in between.

Patrick and Jackie re-opened the inn this past February, and their establishment is still a gathering place for people, their friends and their families to connect. “Inn” has become an invitation for people, both locals and visitors, to rub elbows with the community. The Pine Tree Inn is the sort of place where everyone knows each other’s names.

“There’s an important role that bars and taverns play,” said Jackie. “It’s important for people to just get out, and maybe you’ll see your neighbor and you can connect and have a conversation.”

The Pine Tree Inn offers live music on the weekends, cards on Wednesdays and Extreme Bar Bingo, with plans to do more events, expand food options and find new ways for people to gather together at their watering hole.

And, hopefully, their efforts will keep the Pine Tree alive and well for generations to come.

Jackie said, “It feels like it has just been passed along, and when we’re done, it’ll pass along to another person in the community, and, you know, it’ll just continue to outlast everyone else.”

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