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DL Chamber to celebrate 100 years with open house

Though the official records of the DL Chamber of Commerce only date back as far as 1921, there is evidence that its beginnings actually extend all the way back to March 1906, when it was known as the Detroit Commercial Club.

In the century that has passed since that time, the Chamber has gone through many different names and locations. Its present incarnation, the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, was born when the Detroit Lakes Civic & Commerce Association merged with the Northwest Resort Association in the 1980s.

This past May, the Chamber moved into its new home at 700 Summit Ave., just up the block from the Becker County Museum and the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center.

It was the first relocation that the organization had seen since it moved into the small building on the corner of Washington Avenue and Highway 10 in 1936.

Though that relocation had been accelerated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation's plans for realigning Highway 10 -- plans which called for the purchase and removal of the former Chamber building -- it had actually been in the works for several years prior to that, according to Chamber President Dave Hochhalter.

"We actually started our first building fund in March of 2000," Hochhalter said. At that time, the Chamber board was eyeing a possible move into the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Depot just up the street.

Ultimately, however, after viewing literally dozens of locations around the Detroit Lakes area, the Chamber's relocation task force settled upon the Summit Avenue location.

"In 2004, we accepted MnDOT's purchase offer (for the 700 Washington building)," Hochhalter said. That same year, the Chamber made an offer on the Summit Avenue location, and in 2005, the purchase agreement was signed.

A little over a year later, in May 2006, the new building was completed and the Chamber's staff moved into the new facility.

Next Thursday, Oct. 5, the public is invited to come celebrate the Chamber's 100th anniversary, as well as the official grand opening of the new facility, at an open house hosted by the Chamber Ambassadors from 4-6 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 5:15 p.m.

In addition, Hochhalter noted, there will be live music, walk-through tours of the new building, food and refreshments, historical displays and door prizes.

For more information, please call 847-9202 or visit the Chamber's official web site,

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454