When the historic Willowbrook Ballroom burned down last week, it wasn’t just decades of memories that went up in flames.
For Dan and Victoria Schoen, the venue not only where they had one of their first dates, and where they became engaged – it was where they had planned on getting married.
But those plans changed in an instant when the 95-year-old ballroom was significantly damaged by a roof fire, just hours before their ceremony was set to begin.
“They said, ‘I’m so sorry to be the one to tell you this but the place you’re about to get married at is on fire,’” said Dan Schoen.
The wedding was set to be a masquerade ball with 226 of their closest friends and family.
“I was freaking out because we had all that history there-- literally the day before I set up everything I did so much specific things,” Victoria Schoen said.
Despite the disaster-- the owners of the ballroom made arrangements to move the Schoens’ reception to a nearby venue.
“We were able to move our band over there, all the food was able to go over there, the cake wasn't delivered to Willowbrook so they were able to move that over there,” Dan Schoen said.
The couple said they were more upset by the loss of the beloved venue than the altered wedding plans.
“It's sad-- a really sad event-- not just for us but the whole Willow Springs community,” Victoria Schoen said.
While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, the owners of the ballroom posted a message on Facebook thanking the community for their support.
“As you probably already know, today we have lost a historical landmark,” the post read. “Thank you all for your support. At this time, we ask you to please respect our privacy.”
The fire was the second time a ballroom burned down at that location.
The original ballroom burned down in 1930, according to the ballroom’s website. It was rebuilt at a then staggering cost of $100,000, complete with a soda fountain, restaurant and flower shop. It also hosted some of the biggest bands of the day.