Will the Golden Bubble return?
Some say it got its name from the fuzzy little bubbles in champagne. Some say it is because it was the place to be in the middle of golden cornfields. One thing is for sure, the Golden Bubble has its name established in Faribault County.
From its original establishment as a steakhouse back in the early 1950s to its tragic demise and fall in the early 2000s, the Golden Bubble has had a memorable history.
Nestled on the corner of Old 16 and Highway 22, the Golden Bubble has been lying in wait for the past 11 years with no activity besides the sporadic reports of being broken into and damage to the property.
Jeff and Ann Erickson hope those days are over as they have begun to post ‘private property’ signs and build up snow banks around their newly acquired property.
Yes. The Golden Bubble is hoping to rise again.
Prior to their ownership, Ken and Gloria Thompson were the proprietors of the well-established ballroom from 1978 to 2005 when it closed. And before them? Jeff’s grandparents, Harry and Marge Krueger.
Harry and Marge purchased the property, which was only a steakhouse at the time, and moved into the house adjacent to the establishment with two of their children. Those two young folks were old enough to help the family establish themselves, and that included Jeff’s mother.
Erickson says he remembers hearing stories from his mother who would help out at the Golden Bubble, once the ballroom was built in 1964.
“There were polkas, waltzes, and firemen’s dances besides the numerous weddings the Bubble hosted,” says Erickson. “Mom still has stuff from the Bubble from the 60s and 70s menus, ashtrays, a whole bunch of memorabilia.”
Erickson says his mother and the rest of her three other siblings divided up the Bubble’s trinkets once Harry and Marge Krueger passed away.
According to a story written about the Golden Bubble in 2010 in the Faribault County Register, Ken Thompson stated the summer before the Golden Bubble’s big fire was going to be the busiest season the Bubble would see, but the Thompsons struggled to make back what they earned after a season without a building. Nine wedding dances, four fireman’s dances, a few anniversary dances and seven public dances were scheduled for the Bubble before it burst…into flames.
“Purchasing this property has been in the back of my mind for a long time,” says the new proprietor. “I am hoping to bring back some of the nostalgia of the original Bubble in the future.”
But, he says, that is still a ways off. After working with county commissioner Tom Warmka, and county auditor and treasurer John Thompson to get the property and paperwork well underway, Erickson says he has a good feeling.
“Tom was instrumental in starting things off and once the ball was rolling, John came in and helped with the purchase of the property,” says Erickson. He is now currently working with members of the planning and zoning board to help create a septic system design for the building.
Erickson says he is still experiencing break ins on the property, which he hopes to alleviate in the future, but for now, his focus is crossing his t’s and dotting his i’s in order to progress with cleaning hopefully happening in spring.
“We are still a long ways off from opening anything. We are going to gut out the ballroom and get things really cleaned up,” he says, noting the structural integrity of the building after it was rebuilt after a fire in 1980. “We aren’t sure what will happen with the steakhouse, either. It is in pretty bad shape, but we will see.”
Ken and Gloria Thompson’s efforts to rebuild the structure after its fire were well-done according to Erickson, who commented on the “wonderful bones and modern building structure” of the steel metal structure the Golden Bubble was rebuilt with.
“We really hope to bring that magic back to the Bubble from its hey-day. We really have a piece of history on our hands and we want to rebuild it to its proper glory,” says Erickson.
He and his wife hope to work with local contractors and continue working along side local public bodies to re-establish the Golden Bubble as a rentable dance and wedding hall.
In 2005, when the Thompsons chose to retire, there was a diminishing customer base using the Golden Bubble as interest in public dances and other social gatherings declined. Once the Thompsons sold the Bubble to another owner, it was never re-opened, but rather, was used for storage.
In 2007, the property was highlighted for being the storage space for a plethora of stolen antique items, and was also used as a methamphetamine lab.
“Drugs are still an issue in our area,” says Erickson. “And I truly hope we can begin to look at and tackle that issue in our area. Once the Thompsons retired, the Bubble fell flat, and that’s where it sits, stripped of anything resembling what it once was. I want to change that.”
He says everyone wants to see the Golden Bubble up and running again, and Erickson says it is all in good time.
“We’ll get there,” he says.
For now, the anticipation is what citizens will have to feed off of until the Bubble gets up and on its dancing feet once again.