Myrick Park Zoo Duck House

The duck house and pavillion is one of the last remnants of the former Myrick Park Zoo. 

Some of Sue Lacoste’s happiest memories of growing up in La Crosse include Myrick Park.

“Everything about it was like a little mini-amusement park and there was something for everyone,” Lacoste said.

Lacoste serves as president of the Myrick Park Community group, which is spearheading an effort to restore the historic duck house in the park. She presented the plans for the about $200,000 renovation Thursday to the city’s Board of Park Commissioners.

“We’d really love to start this year. It’d be so awesome if a big donor would step up and give us a nice-sized donation,” Lacoste said.

The group has been working since 2015 to restore the park to its former glory, before the Myrick Park Zoo closed in 2007.

“Most of us in La Crosse grew up here. We know what it was like for our childhood to go down there and hear the bells ringing on them boats and the zoo,” Lacoste said. “Almost everybody you talk to, their fondest memories are Myrick Park, period. It was a place where people went with their families.”

The group hopes to foster that family tradition.

“I’d like to be able to take my grandson there,” vice president Margaret Strasser said.

Preliminary plans for the second phase include an all abilities playground, rides like there were in years past and maybe a petting zoo building.

“Zoo will be last,” Lacoste said.

The Myrick Park Community group decided to start with the duck house as a way to tie in the history of the city park, which was named after La Crosse founder Nathan Myrick. The duck house has been deemed historical by the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission.

“It’s not going anywhere and you can’t find that kind of architecture, as far as the rock and the way the building was built, anywhere anymore,” Strasser said.

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Also included in the project will be a koi pond put in by Peaceful Falls. Owner John Tellier said the pond would be lined and include a cleaning and filtration system, as well as a system to allow the fish to remain over the winter. Maintenance would be done by volunteers with Myrick Park Community.

The purpose of the bond and duck house would be to attract ducks that are already in the area to the park.

They started out with bids above $300,000, but those numbers have gone down as local companies stepped up to help. Peaceful Falls, Strupp Trucking and Phillips Fencing all agreed to provide services at reduced rates.

In particular, Jon Papenfuss has been a huge help, Lacoste said. He did a rendering for the design based on Otto Merman’s original drawings, which saved the group $10,000.

The cost is now down to $206,499, which she said would cover the renovation as well as signs warning against feeding the ducks bread and possibly a plaque honoring Merman.

The group is raising money and applying for grants to pay for the project, and Lacoste hopes the city of La Crosse will chip in $100,000 in capital improvement funds as well.

“If we get all of the grants we’re applying for approved this year, we’d be able to start this year, so we’re praying for that,” Lacoste said.

The designs will need to be approved by the city’s engineering department and parks board before the project can move forward.

The parks board Thursday asked the group to keep in mind the environmental impact, operating costs and any costs associated with future repairs.

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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

(10) comments


The city isn't paying for this, it's all donated money. Gee wiz! And you have no vote because you didn't donate. So, go donate to a drug rehab program in town if you want a vote. They would appreciate your donation of money or time.

Rick Czeczok

Wow, great fundraising technique.


The city isn't paying for this, it's all donated money. Gee wiz!

Rick Czeczok

Tear it down. There are to many ducks with bad memories of there captivity and suffering from the aftermath... Kidding of course but I think you get my point. Maybe put the blue face horror next to it, great for Halloween.


$200,000! That outrageous. All because a few people remember going to that super sad zoo. I remember going there as a kid an I vote demolish it an put that money towards roads or getting meth an heroin off the streets or at least the needles out of the parks.

LaCrosse Lady

Sounds great!! Can’t forget the turtles too!


I too always thought the "duck house" a rather unique little structure. I recall as a kid the ducks never seemed to fly away, and now as an adult I wonder if personnel had clipped their wings so they couldn't fly away or it was merely a plentiful food factor. If they are bringing it back hope it's not the clipped wing factor going on.


Terrible writing by the Tribune. Back to Ms Johnson's freshman (high school) english class.

I suppose we will be having the same discussion relative to restoring Riverside Park to its former glory in 20 years, after the new junk (convention center) has fallen into dis-repair and looms over Riverside casting its shadow on dead grass.


It's not enough to say "terrible writing", Redwall, particularly when there doesn't seem to be anything remotely terrible about the writing in this article. However, I could take you to task for the errors in your 10:02pm post. Would you like me to do that for you? Your errors are not particularly egregious, but they certainly are present and call into question your ability to criticize the writing in the article.


Bad grammer, poor syntax, and the full scope of the duck house project is not adequately described. Ms Vian should stick to writing about liberal social grievances.

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