- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—For 99 years, SNPJ Lodge 254 has helped those of Slovenian heritage and culture.

On Friday, the lodge will cease operation and close its doors at 316 Shiloh Ave. in Bon Air.

“We’re going to be one year short of 100 years,” social member Rich Bair said Monday. “It will be a sad day when the doors are shut for the final time.

“There’s a lot of history going to go by the boards. It will be a nostalgic week.”

The building isn’t expected to be vacant for long.

Rich Lamm, co-owner B&L; Wine Cellars in Cambria City, said Monday he hopes to soon complete a deal to move his company’s wine making operation to the site.

“We have made an offer and they have accepted,” he said.

“But we need a special variance before we actually move into the place.”

Lamm said he doesn’t expect any issues to deter the deal.

His group has a meeting scheduled with the Conemaugh Township zoning board in August seeking approval for special variance to make wine.

“We’ve outgrown our space here, so the plan is to take our wine making process up there,” Lamm said. “I dont expect (the variance) to be an issue. I think the township wants us to come up there, but everything has to fall in line.

“I’d like to get in there next month and set our tanks up in the back room, which is 32 feet by 90 feet, because we have a harvest coming up at the end of next month.”

Lamm has some long-range plans for the building and his business, as well.

“We plan to leave the barroom intact and we’d like to have special events up there, but it might take a few years until we get to that point,” he said. “And maybe we’ll eventually have some music stuff up there down the road, during the day.

“And once we get our new wine making place up and running, we’d like to expand our building here in Cambria City, too.”

SNPJ Lodge 254, which obtained its charter in 1916, has a balina (bocce) championship set for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“When the bar closes Friday night, that will be it,” Bair said.

“That same thing has happened to a lot of ethnic clubs.

“Our membership has dropped the past couple years and we are down to about 80 members now.

“It has become very costly for us to operate. We just couldn’t keep it going.”

Ron Musselman is a reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @ronmusselman8.

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