A Marshfield family is amid what likely will be a yearslong process to renovate and breathe new life into a community center that started over 100 years ago as the town’s school campus.
Work has been ongoing for the past year at the Marshfield Community Center, as its owners Lyndall and Melanie Fraker, and their sons have painted, sanded, decorated and installed flooring, among other projects, to upgrade the center. The 50,000-square-foot campus comprises a building with two wings that front East Commercial Street in Marshfield, as well as another three outbuildings.
New businesses, including two run by the Frakers’ sons, are part of upgrades for the facility this summer. Landon operates RetroZone Marshfield LLC, an arcade filled with vintage games, which relocated to the MCC from its five-year home on the downtown square at 202 S. Crittenden St. Younger sibling Logan, who is a senior at Marshfield High School, is on the verge of opening computer repair shop TechZone, his father said. A doughnut shop and boutique store also are new additions to the center.
“It’s been quite an interesting enterprise. We’re doing it as a family as we get time,” Lyndall said, adding they’ve invested over $100,000 just in renovations. “We’ve painted and tried to get uniformity, such as painting all the trim black in the building.”
Lyndall said he was notified last year the Marshfield Public Schools Foundation, which had owned the building for over 20 years, was interested in selling it. He said his wife had a longtime connection to the property as its manager, noting Melanie has owned and operated Imagination Station of Marshfield, a children’s learning facility for ages 2-12, at MCC since 2009.
It’s certainly a change of pace for Lyndall, whose career has included stints in Webster County and state government, including eight years as a state representative and four years as state director of the medical marijuana section within the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which he exited last year to spend more time with his family.
Out of Jefferson City and back full time in Marshfield, Lyndall said taking over MCC was an intriguing idea.
“I wasn’t totally surprised because I knew they didn’t really want to be in the real estate business. They’re a school foundation, and they were chartered to be a receptacle for endowment funds, scholarships, teachers’ grants and so forth,” he said, adding the couple bought it in July 2022 for an undisclosed price. “They were just ready to move on.”
The original middle portion of the building was constructed in 1916, followed by an east wing in 1936 and a west wing, housing the facility’s gymnasium, in 1954, Lyndall said.
Some major renovations were completed in the 1990s, he said, including the building being completely rewired and its old electrical components removed.
“That was a selling point to us because that’s really important to the safety and health of the building to have good electrical,” he said. “The plumbing as well is in good shape. The major infrastructure pieces have been kept up.”
The building was last used to house school district students in 2001, when it served as the junior high school, Lyndall said, adding he was among those who walked its halls in the 1970s when it also served as the high school. His parents also were MHS graduates, and composite photos of their graduating classes line the hallways of the west wing, adjacent to the gym.
Some tuckpointing and roof work are future considerations, but he’s uncertain when the building projects will happen.
“I know there hasn’t been any major work done on the roofs for probably 20-30 years now, but they are in pretty good shape,” he said. “That’s probably the most obvious thing we’ll have to do some work on.”
The building’s east wing has received a lot of attention in recent months in preparation for the business additions. The arcade and doughnut shop both celebrated grand openings in the center on Aug. 5. Mural work by artist Samantha Cox lines the hallways, following an arcade theme complete with images of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man and an accompanying maze adorning the outside of the public restrooms.
Landon, who also works full time in the information technology department at Sho-Me Power Electric Cooperative, said he grew up with a love of classic arcade games – even though most of them predate his birth by a couple decades.
“I love keeping them alive and keeping arcades going. I love learning about them and their history. There’s so much to learn,” he said. “I work in IT, so seeing this, I can kind of see eras of how technology has built up to where we are now in modern times in computers.”
The move allowed for more games to fit in the arcade’s expanded 1,800-square-foot space. Relocation and renovation costs were $10,000, which included installation of air conditioning, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Several game systems occupy space in the hallways near the arcade as they await repairs before being introduced to players. Landon said he’s on constant watch online – primarily on Facebook Marketplace – for new additions.
“These are primarily retro games, some 40 years old, so you kind of have to just keep an eye out when people have them for sale,” he said. “You don’t get them new.”
Lyndall said RetroZone fills space that once served as the building’s original gymnasium.
“Here we are 80 years later, and my sons are enjoying this room in part of what was the old gym,” he said.
Just down the hall, Old School Donut Shop occupies a pair of former science classrooms. Three sisters and their husbands – Jessica and Edward Engleson, Stacy and Mark Herring, and Amy and Brett Lamar – are the owners. The couples leaned into the former school theme, as lockers, trophies, a chalkboard and a collage of 500 photos from old MHS yearbooks are part of the decor.
“We just wanted to do something together,” Amy Lamar said, adding sister Stacy has past work experience at Imagination Station, which connected them to the Frakers. “The must-haves that we had to have, they made it happen, and here we are.”
One of those must-haves was a drive-thru, Lamar said, adding startup costs were $38,000.
“We have a lot invested, just with getting everything ready. It’s an old building, so we had to update some stuff and purchase equipment,” she said, which included converting space to a kitchen.
Lyndall estimated another 10 rooms totaling roughly 5,000 square feet are available for lease.
On the upper level of the east wing and central building, dubbed Grand Central Marketplace, work continues to clean and rent out space. A dance studio as well as a retail clothing and accessories shop, Bent Post Ranch Western, are among ventures either newly opened or soon to occupy rooms.
The Frakers also plan to turn three separate second-story rooms into a single 1,600-square-foot event space that will include knocking out walls.
“It’ll probably be a winter project for some of the Amish workers that I’ll hire,” Lyndall said.
While the building’s work has no end in sight, Lyndall said he doesn’t mind. To him, it’s a labor of love.
“There are very few people who would even consider doing it,” he said. “But I’m having fun, I really am. The beauty is it’s the family – we’re all in it, and we all
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