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Yesterday in La Crosse

The city gives up the Sawyer, 35 years ago

Brad Williams



Just before Christmas of 1984, the city of La Crosse sold the former Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium to Western Wisconsin Tech and its Foundation.  The sale price was half-a-million dollars.  The Sawyer had not been used as a civic center since the La Crosse Center opened in 1980.  The Hilton company had shown an interest in building a hotel on the Sawyer site, but that plan fell through.  The WWTI Foundation had plans to use the auditorium for classroom space.  Within four years, the Sawyer was torn down, and replaced with the county health building and juvenile center.  

A La Crosse police detective considered running for mayor.  Detective Mike Abraham said he had been approached about challenging Mayor Pat Zielke in the 1985 election.  Abraham said he was dissatisfied with things going on in the police department, and at City Hall.  But eventually, the detective chose not to run, because he didn’t want to lose his police pension.  Zielke won a new term the following April.   On your radio that holiday season: an all-star group of British singers called “Band-Aid” sang “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” raising money to fight hunger in Africa.  Early in ’85, several American music stars got together to record “We Are the World.”  That was followed by two Live-Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia.  The Band-Aid record was a hit at Christmas, 1984, yesterday in La Crosse.     

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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