‘King of trash’ taking on buildings in Dalton [UPDATED]Published 11:04am Tuesday, November 20, 2012 Updated 11:04am Tuesday, November 20, 2012
About ten years ago, Greg Peterson of rural Underwood bought several old buildings in Dalton with the intention of fixing them up.
He also had to have a place to sell the antiques, junk and architectural salvage he has collected while owning several area businesses, including a roll-off waste container business in Fergus Falls.
With the first Dalton building nearing completion, he will soon have a new home for things that he has bought, traded and pulled out of the trash.
“I’ve been in trash all my life,” said Peterson with a smile.
Peterson’s dad owned a garbage service in the cities, and that’s where his interest in ‘picking’ treasures grew. After moving to Fergus Falls, Peterson’s collections continued to accumulate while owning the Chopping Block antique store, the Cabinet Connection, and Big Red Boxes which handled mostly construction debris.
He also worked at the OTC Sherrif’s Department and Valley Lake Treatment Center for many years.
Peterson has done most of the structural and cosmetic work himself on the building he has named “The Dalton Opera House.” Originally a multi-use town hall, he picked up the 1902 building for a song.
“I’ll buy anything that’s cheap,” said Peterson, while explaining that he has been working on the Opera House, the adjacent creamery building and two other buildings to the rear of the property in his spare time- with recycled materials of course.
“I just hate to throw anything usable away,” said Peterson.
With humor he tells a story of Jesus being the first recycler.
“You know the story from the bible of the miracle of the five loaves and five fishes, where Jesus is able to feed 5,000 people?” Peterson asks. “Jesus says gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
The Dalton Opera House is a beautiful period building, with wood floors, high ceilings and a small stage. Numerous plays and entertainers, including Lawerence Welk, graced the stage during the building’s tenure as a theatre. There is also evidence it has been used for town meetings before the town was officially formed, a basketball court and a venue for gun safety training- complete with a hole in the ceiling from a misfire.
The old jail was in the basement under the stage, and the town used to keep its fire truck down there too.
Once the building was cleaned up, repaired and painted, Peterson had internationally renowned Minnesota artist, Karen Jensen, paint two beautiful Rosemale murals for the ceiling.
Although the Dalton Opera House has already housed a wedding this past fall, and has an upcoming booking, it still lacks central heat, air conditioning or bathrooms.
Peterson plans to build a breezeway building between the Opera House and adjacent creamery to contain bathrooms and food concessions, including an ice cream shop.
The open-air space between the buildings will feature an outdoor deck.
Peterson is working on the creamery and two other buildings on the property as time and materials become available. He envisions plays, concerts and festivals to fill the Opera House, while the creamery and other buildings may contain vendor space for artists and antique shops.
Peterson’s next goal is to have the bathrooms servicing the Opera House and creamery completed by May 17 for a Syttende Mai party, a celebration of Norwegian Independence Day.