OSKALOOSA – Organizers of the Trolley Stop Alley project will host a ribbon cutting and open house on Saturday, June 10 from 1 to 3 pm. The public is invited to attend the celebration for the remodeled alley, located downtown on High Avenue West between Tasos Steak House and Hunter’s Gift and Coffee Café.
The celebration will include the grand opening of the completed alley remodel project. According to Steering Committee Member Ann Brouwer, the Trolley Stop Alley project was designed to create open outdoor spaces for safe gathering in our post-pandemic world. “We are so happy to have such an artistic, unique space,” Brouwer stressed.
Planning for the Trolley Stop Alley project began in 2021 and is the second alley remodel in downtown Oskaloosa featuring outdoor seating. The space will be open for dining, resting, and social gathering. Beer and wine may be consumed within the alley. Steering Committee Member Sherry Vavra said the first alley project by Smokey Row was open in 2016 and has proven to be a great gathering space for the community. The Trolley Stop Alley has some of the same volunteers.
“We anticipate the same success for this alley, but more low-key, plan-your-own gathering or just to have lunch or dinner outdoors in a trendy space,” Vavra explained.
At 2 pm, the Mahaska Chamber Diplomats will begin the celebration with a ribbon cutting. Steering Committee members Ann Brouwer and Sherry Vavra will welcome attendees, followed by Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt, who will share the importance of this project for the community. At 4 pm, John Bandstra will give a presentation on the history of Oskaloosa trolleys at the Oskaloosa Art Center, located at 115 1st Ave. W.
Nicole Pitts designed the original Trolley Driver artwork, currently displayed on the stage at Smokey Row. Framing of the print was donated by Mahaska Drug. This beautiful artwork is open for bids and funds raised will go to the Trolley Stop Alley’s continuing work and maintenance. The bid sheet is near the display at Smokey Row or you can contact Ann Brouwer (641-660-8075) for anonymous bidding or questions. The winning bidder will be announced, and take possession of the artwork, following Bandstra’s presentation at The Art Center.
The first horse-drawn streetcar in Oskaloosa was serving the town as early as 1888 and was converted to an electric trolley in 1897. Trolley lines crossed in front of the current Hunter’s and Tasos’ restaurants until 1925. Local artist Brant Bollman created an historic trolley mural in the alley in 2020. A committee formed to launch the Trolley Stop Alley Project to further preserve this time in history. The project was approved and full support was given by the Historical Preservation Commission and the City of Oskaloosa.
Brouwer said the conversation began with thoughts of purchasing a retired trolley that a chamber member had seen an ad for. Due to the cost and difficulty of converting an actual trolley, a new concept evolved: “The idea was to build a ‘trolley’ facade shelter with printed trolley décor. A local artist created the trolley driver. Tables were placed inside and windows were cut to give the appearance of people ‘riding a trolley’ to people passing by.”
Vavra said inside, historical pictures hang to appear as people and sights from the trolley period as you ‘ride’ the trolley at the tables. The shelter also has lighting beneath the roof to allow for longer hours of use, and it is open at each end to create air flow.
A steel archway at the entrance reads “TROLLEY STOP ALLEY” to create the finished project. The space is designated a city park. Beer or wine may be brought in and consumed within the space. Additional benches and ½ tables will be placed in the alley in the near future for additional dining and gathering.
If you would like more information or have information to share, contact Brouwer at 641-660-8075 or Vavra at 641-660-7504.