A Walking Tour of North Main Street
[from “The Towpath” – May 1983-January 1984 issues]
[Excerpts taken from Historic Tour at 1976 Bremenfest, as prepared by Mary Ann Brown.]
Ten acres of land were purchased from the government at one dollar an acre. It was surveyed by R. Grant of Mercer County and divided into 102 lots, each 66 by 300 feet. One lot was reserved for each member of the company that had been organized at Cincinnati. The remainder were offered for sale at $25.00 each.
The original plat extended from a line along the railroad tracks on the west, Ash Street on the north, a line where Eastmoor Drive lies now, to Monroe Street on the south. The part of town that is south on Washington Street and to the east of the canal toward Minster was incorporated later as Ober Bremen, another town with its own mayor until 1876. The original business district was on North Main Street where many buildings were used for both business purposes and also for residences (until 1905).
Monroe Street then was just the connecting link between the two sections of Bremen and was not developed until the turn of the century as the business district. Farmers drove their cattle to the depot down Monroe Street to the railroad on the west edge of town. What a cloud of dust they created as they stormed down the dusty street. Sometimes the cattle got out of control and into people's yards.
Main Street did not extend south of Monroe except for the alley that is now (1976) behind Friemering's Home Furnishings. In 1889 there was a call for it to be opened, but it was not opened until after 1900. The large white brick home owned by Ritters was the only house built before the 1880 Auglaize County Atlas was printed. The rest of the open land was owned by Frederick Vogelsang.
Six families became New Bremen's first settlers. It took two weeks to cover the 120 miles from Cincinnati. In the meantime, Schroeder had built a log hut which measured 12’ by 14’ which all six families lived in until each was able to have their own cabin. A log hut was not like a log cabin. Log huts had no windows or fireplaces, but ventilation and cooking were provided for by a hole in the roof. Most log huts had round logs for the walls which were chinked in the openings with mud and twigs. Most had dirt floors.
North Main Street has a history of boarding houses, mills, hotels, saloons, general stores, warehouses, pork packing plants and breweries, which all were maintained to accommodate the travelers who came up the canal as well as the farmers and industries that the canal drew to the town.
Pork packing became one of the town's leading industries. Farmers came from great distances to dispose of their hogs in New Bremen. During the peak years more than 10,000 hogs were slaughtered and shipped from New Bremen by canal boats per year. In 1889, The New Bremen Sun gave these figures on the pork packing industry in New Bremen: $97,350 per year was the amount paid out for the total businesses dealing in pork packing. The average weight of a hog was then 250 pounds and the average price was 5.9 cents per pound.
Pork packing involved three times as much money as the next industry, which were the creameries. The agricultural product of grain that was also shipped on the canal ran twice as high as both of these industries put together, or $250,000.
Six pork packing plants were in New Bremen at this time: Schmidt Brothers; Speckman, Son and Co.; Boesel and Kunning; J. H. Boesche; Dierker and Co.; Jno. Garmhausen (Lock II).
A public demonstration was staged on Saturday, July 3, 1888, when the gas was lighted at the corner of Monroe and Herman Streets. The lighting of streets, squares and public places was provided for in an ordinance signed July 10th. By September 18th, gas was available to home owners. The 1890s brought telephone lines - very expensive at first because fewer than 50 subscribers supported the construction of the lines. Later the telephone became more appreciated. Electric lights replaced gas in 1902.
The Western Ohio Railway Interurban tracks from St. Marys through New Bremen to Minster occurred in 1902 and was discontinued in 1931 as the automobile took over. Some may remember when an accident occurred in 1909 as one of the interurban cars was derailed downtown.
The railroad was put through directly at New Bremen with construction of the Lake Erie and Louisville Railroad (now Nickle Plate) that ran from St. Marys to Minster. Before that there was only the line by State Route 25 (Botkins). There were several hack lines in town which connected passengers and businesses from that railroad line. And as the railroad grew in serving the community, the canal declined in its usefulness.
By the turn of the century, few canal boats passed through New Bremen. The railroad service, as time passed, lost to the trucking companies and airlines.
The lots that faced Main Street ran west from Main to Franklin Street, or ran east and faced Water Street (see map). The properties to the south of Monroe Street were either labeled as outlots or were an addition that was listed as the third addition. It has been suggested that the original owners planned to live on half of this large lot and then sell the other half as time progressed.
Lot No. 1/31 SOUTH (1 n. main st.): At the intersection of Monroe and Main, Lot No. 1 (now Lot 31 – see top map) had two buildings situated on it up until 1960. The brick building was built by Ed Purpus (in 1892) who had a store in which he sold pianos, organs, violins and other musical instruments. Later the weekly newspaper, The New Bremen Sun, had its office here until a grocery store was put in during the 1940s. According to F.W. Bruns, in 1947, a Kroger store was here and later the Howells lived upstairs and ran the store downstairs. F.W. Bruns remembers when this building was used as a common whiskey and beer joint and run by Ambrose Bruetsch in the 1870s-1880s.
Lot No. 1/31 NORTH (5 n. main st.): F.W. Bruns relates the second building on this lot was Theodore Dinkel's meat market on the south side in the 1880s. Later there was a butcher, Breidewieser, and a barber by the name of Schneider in the 1910s-1920s. Mrs. Tillie Pape had a millinery shop on the north side, which later became the Climax Barber Shop run by Ed Patterson, who fixed ladies' and gentlemen's hair according to an ad in the "Sun" in 1889. By 1947 (in 1929), Gilberg and Hegemier were situated there, after which (1959) they moved to the Schulenberg building on Monroe St. The building had two big windows with a separate door to each business establishment, four windows across the top, and sat just several feet from the other (brick) building on the lot. In courthouse records, this lot was sold to Sarah Meyer in May 1837 for $10.00 and to Charles Boesel in May 1838 for $120.00.
The north side of the building was original black walnut clapboard put together with handmade nails and had never been painted when it was torn down in February 1960. It was built by Carl Boesel, pioneer merchant and banker, representative and state senator 1861-1865, 1867-1871 respectively. Born in Bavaria in February 1814, he was superintendent of The Miami-Erie Canal from 1851-1854. He began a general store in 1838 which may have been this building. There was a post office in this building during the Polk administration from 1845-1849. There are advertisements in the "Sun" that read, "Oldest Business House in the City, Established 1836, Old Reliable Corner, Boesel and Kunning." The brick building that is now used as Friemering's Warehouse was at one time the Boesel and Kunning General Store in the 1890s, but that building does not date back to 1836.
Lot No. 2/32 (9-11 N. Main ST.): On Lot No. 2 is located a brick building covered with stucco. On the south side the iron S's that reinforced the second story floor joists can still be seen. F.W. Bruns says that this was a saloon and billiard parlor in the 1870s. An egg and poultry business was run there by Adolph Steinberg, who also owned the property where the white (gray-blue?) brick apartment building across from the post office still stands. This is shown in the 1880 Atlas. A favorite Saturday activity to encourage business was a mid-air stunt in which a wire was strung from this building to the large brick across the street for a high wire act. Beata Isern recalls that her grandmother (Purpus?) worked for a widower, keeping house for the two children in this building. It is safe to say that the building is at least a hundred years old, probably older. (Tax for East 1/2 in 1848-49 was $40.)
Edward Klanke ran a boarding house there before the 1900s. They took in working-class people - men who put in the gas lights, electric lights, or sewers - and men who stayed for several months rather than just canal travelers or overnight guests. Two hired girls worked in the saloon and boarding house when 18 boarders at one time was "just a drop in the bucket”. These boarders paid $2.50 to $3.00 a week. A doctor and lawyer rented upstairs rooms at one time in the early 1900s.
The dining room and kitchen were behind the billiard area, and the back part of the building was opened up for an open-air beer garden. Six hogs, chickens, and rabbits were kept in the back of the brick building that is still behind the stucco one. There was another room behind the dining room that accommodated the working class since the separate dining room was only for the better class who stayed there but who did not eat with the working class.
In 1896, the adjoining building was added for living quarters by Ed Klanke. A little later he sold both buildings to his brother, William Klanke, father of Beata Isern. Beata was born in the gray stucco building, moved away a few years after her marriage, and returned here when her husband died. William Klanke, an undertaker, ran Klanke's Funeral Parlor and Klanke Furniture Factory (together with his brothers, John, George & Ed.)
In those days, not all undertakers had to have schooling. They did have to have a license, but the licensing was not very well regulated. When one of the boarders in the house died, the funeral viewing was held in front of the beautiful Victorian fireplace with marble tiles and beveled mirror above. The caskets proved too cumbersome to be moved easily from the living room out the front door so large folding double doors were installed to make the turn into the hall easier. Eventually the large window in the living room was removed and replaced each time a casket was to be brought out. Sometimes there were four caskets since so many of the men who stayed were adventurous characters who lived recklessly. After the furniture factory burned in 1913, George Klanke moved to Piqua while Wm. Klanke bought the building where Friemering's store is now (southwest corner of Main & Monroe St.) for an undertaking / furniture business.
Lot No. 3/33 (15 N. MAIN ST.): Now let's look at the white house with the front porch. This is an old house that was owned by Theodore Dinkel before the 1900s. He sold the property to August Mueller (his son-in-law) of Mueller Brothers Clothiers. When Jeannette Wagner bought the building, she took off the second story and brought the porch all the way around. Originally it had just a porch on the north side where the bay window can still be seen. F.W. Bruns does not comment on private dwellings in his narrative.
Lot No. 4/34 (19 n. main st.): The large brick townhouse with the lone window on the south was built by Cort Henry Kunning in 1853. Eight of his nine children were born here. A Miss Heinfeld and Mrs. Boesel lived here until a granddaughter, Miss Lola Patterson, acquired the large lot that extends farther back than the other lots on this street. [Corrections made 7/3/2009 per a 1983 letter from Marguerite Koop Kunning which was found.]
The carriage house was converted into a garden cottage in the 1930s because the main house was too large for Lola. She rented out the main house for ten to twenty years while she lived in the two-bedroom cottage. Rev. & Mrs. Thomas Ward bought the lot in the 1970s and restored the appearance of the main house. An old fireplace was taken out in the 1920s; a new unusable corner fireplace is in the front living room and it again serves as a duplex.
Lot No. 5/35 (21 N. MAIN ST.): John Schwaberow had a tailor shop on the north side (in F.W. Bruns's memory) before the 1900s. There were many tailors in New Bremen. This one specialized in Prince Albert attire. His nickname was "Spats" (pronounced “spots”) Schwaberow, and was the grandfather of Mrs. Lucille (Isenberger) Casebolt. The Atlas shows the house sat very close to the street and was owned by Jno. Schwaberow. In 1947, his daughter, Mrs. Lorena (Schwaberow) Isenberger, lived in the house. In the 1950s, Lola Patterson bought and remodeled it for herself until the late 1960s. Now (1976) Marie and Wilbert (Pete) Dammeyer live there.
Lot No. 6/36 (25 N. Main St.): This corner lot was divided in half in 1880. August Boesel owned the south half of the lot. There is no building shown in the 1880 Atlas, but A. Boesel's home is shown in a pen and ink sketch as being the white frame Federal brick house on the northwest corner of Water and First Streets. Bruns remembers that before the turn of the century there was a wholesale shoe, boot and leather store here (Main St.). He also tells that on the other (north) half of this corner lot, Schulenberg and Aue (pronounced "ow-ee") had a frame implement warehouse which was later moved to the southeast corner of West Monroe and Water Streets and used as a blacksmith shop.
Sometime after 1880, the present house was built. Originally it sat next to the sidewalk and before it was remodeled and moved back, it was used as Greber's Photography Shop. Greber first had his shop across the street, where Zion's Church is now. His shop was relocated when that site was selected for construction of the church in 1897. It is possible that Greber moved his business across the street around these years. There was a big bay window to display pictures he had taken. Mrs. Leo Kuhlhorst's father, Mr. Kuck, remodeled it sometime in the 1920s.
Lot No. 7/37 (103 N. Main St.): Owned by Henry Wecher/Wiegers (1880 Atlas), this corner lot had a building that was used by Greber Tintype Gallery until it was torn down. It was explained that the area behind the Main Street dwellings was open over to Franklin Street at that time. Information given in the 1933 “Centennial" booklet indicated the Zion congregation committee founded a building fund in 1888 and purchased the lot. The newspaper printed that Greber moved to the second floor of A Herman Laut building in July 1889. The beautiful brick church with the towers and turrets was dedicated on April 21, 1897, as can be seen in the cornerstone (laid in 1896). In 1903, the back part was added as a dining hall which later served as Sunday School space. In 1906, the pipe organ was bought with $500 donated by Andrew Carnegie.
Zion's Reformed Church was founded in March 1865, with first services being held in the second story rooms of Christian Schmidt's residence, the big brick apartment on the southwest corner of North Main and Pearl Streets. Across the street on the northeast corner of North Main & Pearl, that house was bought for a parsonage. That same year a church was built opposite the parsonage on the southeast corner of the same streets. It is said that the outbuilding/garage (since removed) behind the present home (on the southeast corner) was that church. Services were conducted in English occasionally on Sunday nights. (The transcribed notes of Jacob and Charles Boesel state that the garage behind the 1865 parsonage was the Zion’s church and school.)
The new parsonage was built before 1922, when it was raised and provided with basement and furnace. The parsonage is directly behind the church to the west, facing Franklin Street. In 1930 the church was redecorated and restrooms were added. In 1937, the merger of the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Synod occurred, whereupon Zion’s became a member of The Northwest Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church denomination. Extensive remodeling of the church in the 1940s changed the altar and the entrances to the building. In the 1950s another merger occurred with Zion’s becoming a member of the newly formed United Church of Christ. The church celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1965. The property was sold to The Way International in the 1970s when Zion's congregation voted to build a new church on the north edge of town.
(Most of this data is from the 1933 "Centennial" or 1968 "German Festival" booklets.)
[The United States Geological Survey geodetic brass marker is located on the south end of the front steps of the former Zion’s Church building and was used as the beginning point for surveying the original plat of the town. This benchmark shows "941 feet above sea level" and a "$250 fine for disturbing" the marker.]
Lot No. 8/38 (107 N. Main St.): This lot was sold by Christian Schmidt, as recorder, to Diedrich Ahlers in February 1853 for $152.00. In January 1857, it was sold to C. Laut for $1,325.00. It seems that this building was constructed between 1853-1857. Look carefully and see the seam where an addition was later added to the back. F.W. Bruns remembers when it was a lager beer saloon. He says it had a bowling alley in it and a dance hall upstairs. Many wedding dances were held there - even his own in 1900. The stairway that led upstairs was entered by the door on the south. The stairs are now moved to the back.
Mrs. Bernice Dilger, current resident, relates that she was told the house was built by a Capt. Laut, a captain in the Civil War. The story goes that Mrs. Laut, who was very pregnant, wheeled a wheelbarrow full of bricks to help build the addition. Her husband had gone to war and she needed the income from the boarders to live so she helped build it herself. There was a dug well at the back of the original section - the kind that had the bucket and rope which was cranked down into the well. When the addition was being built, instead of removing the well, they just built around it, leaving an open space for it. The outside was later bricked in, but the curved pattern of the bricks can still be seen where it was and the kitchen still has an offset on the south wall where the well is still today even though it is not used.
The front room on the north side was used as a saloon for many years. It was a rowdy place; fights were numerous and many men were thrown out into the street. The doorway on the north has a very worn place in the sandstone step. In the 1880 Atlas, Mrs. C. Laut is listed as the owner. Later the establishment was sold to Mike Vossler and William Schwepe.
This structure was also a boarding house. What is now two rooms on the south side was at one time one very long room that contained a long dining table for all the boarders. Upstairs on the south side were the sleeping rooms. On the second story where the dance hall was, a small check room in the corner can still be found. The basement was used as a beer cellar for years.
In the 1900s, Frank Laut and his family still lived there and Frank Doenges bought it about 1930. The daughter, Bernice (Doenges) Dilger, and her husband live there now (1976). Jean Harris, editor of the 1968 "German Festival" booklet, remembers that when she was in the eighth grade in 1918-19, there was a shortage of school space so the north end was used to house that grade, with their teacher being Otto Doenges. The pupils were amused to think they were going to school in a saloon. (Elmer Ende's father, whose mother was a Laut, was born in this house.)
Mrs. Dilger and her parents found Capt. Laut's woolen Civil War uniform complete with hat, boots, pistol and rifle when they bought the house. Unfortunately, the trash man was called and all was discarded. Paul Hoffman cannot remember any dances being held there since the 1920s. He does remember Theodore Doenges, Mrs. Dilger's father, who ran a tire shop and displayed tires in the windows on the north side. Notice the huge roots on the tree in front as it clings tenaciously amidst the concrete and asphalt (since removed).
The 1852 St. Paul parsonage (western half of this lot facing Franklin Street) was not moved across the street until 1909-10 and this area was known as "The Swamp." Often bands of Indians, who were traveling as side shows, gave performances in this "swamp" location. Pictures were saved by Mrs. Esther Quist from 1887 showing an Indian family who gave performances. Further, the newspaper announced that the Warm Springs Indians performed for two weeks in June of 1888.
Lot No. 9-10/39-40 (111-115 N. Main St.): Where the post office and bank* (1976) are. The old town hall was built here in 1860 and was occupied as the city hall and the fire department until 1897, when the fire department was moved to South Washington Street.
Even before the town hall was located on these lots in 1860, it is believed that the early residents of Bremen built and equipped a log house with benches for $40 to serve as both a church and school (about 1835). The minister was also the schoolmaster. In 1846, $350 was raised to build the brick school house at 9-11 North Franklin Street, now a gray brick apartment complex owned by Mrs. Harold Opperman. That school was used until the Gothic style "Union School" or "Central School" was built on South Franklin in 1877.
With continued growth in church membership, St. Paul Church voted to build a large frame building that fronted on Herman Street. It was erected and dedicated in 1849, the year that a cholera epidemic caused 122 deaths in the congregation. The (first) large brick church was dedicated in October 1891, burned January 1, 1897, and was rebuilt around the charred walls and remaining steeple tower in time for Christmas 1897 services.
The original log structures on Main St. were removed so the town hall could be built in 1860. It was built much like the stucco house down the street with three windows across the top. Two garage doors were installed for the fire truck entrances and one door admitted ground floor patrons. The town hall was upstairs with the stairway on the south. The jail was in the back. A belfry tower and fire bell were at the top. Behind this building was a large park with maple trees in ordered rows, according to a picture postcard dated early 1900s. It was a park for some time and now serves as a parking lot for the post office and St. Paul Church.
It was in this building that Elmer Ende retrieved historical papers that included New Bremen's original charter from July 1832, plat records from 1833 written in German and showing Bremen as part of Mercer County, as well as other papers. The structure was razed in 1959 to build the bank and post office there. Many residents still remember when the state highway department proposed a new route for State Route 66 that forced the demolition of the $40,000 building on the northwest corner of Washington and Monroe. That brick post office had just been completed in 1955, when in 1958 they learned it must be torn down to facilitate traffic.
[*Note: The First National Bank has since moved from here to South Washington Street at the edge of town.]
Lot No. 11/41 (117-119 N. Main St.) Lehmkuhl Hotel: Albert Lehmkuhl was born in Hannover in 1792 and came to New Bremen in 1844. He purchased Lot No. 11 for $800 in April 1848 from John B. Behrens and kept an old-time hostelry there for twenty-four years. The building was a two and three-story that fronted on Main Street and was the first three-story building erected in the village. It is believed the first (2-story) section was built in 1846 (originally of frame construction) and that Albert Lehmkuhl added the 3-story part in 1858 - in 1858, the building was valued at $14,065.
Albert Lehmkuhl was married twice and had 8 children, 2 of which were Cort/Cord and Carl Lehmkuhl. His first wife died in 1849, he remarried 2 months later, and at the age of 57, had his last two children. He died in 1882. [This information is added here to correct previous information which stated these events took place 30 years later.] Great-granddaughter, Esther (Fearing) Quist, owned furniture that was used in the hotel in 1846. She was the granddaughter of Cord Lehmkuhl.
The hotel was a favorite stopping place for farmers, who engaged in butchering hogs in the wintertime from December 1st to February 1st, after which they hauled the slaughtered porkers from as far west as Fort Wayne, Indiana to New Bremen by means of horse-drawn wagons. If the roads were covered with a solid bed of snow, bobsleds were brought into service. The Lehmkuhl family was ideal in extending hospitality to their patrons and thus they prospered for years. There was a bevy of 4 girls who assisted their parents in conducting the business.
The south one-third of the building was used for saloon purposes. The center had a long room with the kitchen in the rear while the north served as sleeping quarters for overnight patrons, as well as the entire second story of the building, according to F.W. Bruns in The New Bremen Sun. Also, Mr. Bruns’s mother used to work there as a dining room waitress. The saloon was one of a dozen or so that operated on a $100 a year liquor license until the Ohio Dow Law raised the fee to $500. Herman Meyer ran the business after the Lehmkuhls discontinued it, and he rented out the third story for dances and other entertainment.
At one time this third story section was the meeting place of the New Bremen Masonic fraternity. One night “Capt.” Schulenberg (not really a captain – just a nickname) and other law-abiding members were forced to challenge some non law-abiding members who took to their heels and fled. Bruns declined to mention their names so as not to embarrass members of those departed (from this life) ruffians. After the incident, these members took allegiance with the Mercer Lodge in St. Marys and it was the end of the New Bremen Masons.
The property was sold to William Barth in June 1905 (called the Barth flats) and to Albert Garland (Carl) & Ollie Inman in 1945 to be used as apartments. They sold it to Jim & Lucille Scheer in 1967, who in turn sold it to the First National Bank in 1980. In January 1983, the building was torn down. Some of the old window panes and window sills were taken by the N.B.H.A. to be reinstalled in the museum.
[You can read more about the Lehmkuhl Hotel and the
Bruns Marble Cutting Shop in the July 2007 issue of “The Towpath”]
Lot No. 12/42 (123 N. Main St.): North of the hotel was William Bruns's marble cutting shop. The little brick building still sits there on Lot No. 12. In the 1870s or 1880s, William Bruns contracted for a monument or grave marker. Without pneumatic marble-cutting tools, the man used a stile chisel and wooden mallet. He was known to be a perfect craftsman and always signed his work with the initials "W.B." He had become a gravestone cutter in his boyhood when William Langhorst accompanied him to Cincinnati and paid a year and a half tuition for him in a school of marble cutting.
Fred Langhorst owned this lot in 1880 as well as a tile factory north along the canal with William Langhorst. Later, in the 1950s, this building housed a mechanic shop and then Walter Fischbach's bicycle repair shop before it was vacated for a number of years. Precision Tool and Machine Co. had its beginnings here in the 1950s. Since 1989, this has been the home of the German Township Trustees.
NOW LET’S CROSS OVER TO THE EAST SIDE OF THE STREET AND GO BACK SOUTH:
Lot No. 25/55 (126 N. Main St.): This corner lot is the brick residence that belongs to Donald and Jeanette Hellwarth. Built in 1869, the house was inherited by the daughter, Mrs. Henry (Caroline) Neumann, upon the death in 1891? of her father, Mr. Lewis Wellman, who had been a road contractor. The Neumanns remodeled the building for two families and it was not vacant for more than a month, according to F.W. Bruns in The New Bremen Sun. He and his wife occupied the south half for several years, and some can remember when this south side first floor was used as a leather shop and there was a tannery in the barns on the back of the lot. Mr. Neumann, Amber Dicke's grandfather, was a cobbler and tanner. The south side basement under the building for a time was rented by Henry Schwepe during the early 1880s, who with his family as tenants, used the basement for excess beer and soft drink storage.
Lot No. 26/56 (120 N. Main St.): This lot on the east side of the street sold for $10 in 1837. Some building was erected during that time. Donald Hutslar, Associate Curator of History at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, believes the present structure was accomplished in two stages. The addition to the north was probably built soon after the original part. The building was made of "brick nogging" construction used by German builders in the eastern part of Ohio known as Zoar. Mud, straw, brick and hand-hewn timber form the walls of this two-story house.
In 1868, William Luelleman
bought the place and in the 1870s, he built a brick summer kitchen that is
adjoined to the house with a brick walkway in back. The house was used at one
time, during 1846, by the St. Peter’s Church congregation for their services.
The northwest room upstairs (front) is believed to be the room since there is
evidence of a chair rail around the outside walls that would have been used
in a public meeting room. It is also said the house was an early post office
(logical since the location of the post office was changed frequently and
often housed in the postmaster's home).
In 1912, William H. F. Luelleman, son of William H. and Anna
Catherine Luelleman, built a barn and workshop behind the house and encased
an outside toilet built on slabs of
The structure was used as a residence and business place or a multiple family dwelling for many years with two kitchens downstairs - one center back and one south back. In 1973, the property was purchased and prepared for restoration by the New Bremen Historic Association which was formed at that time to keep one of the oldest buildings in New Bremen from being irreversibly changed. A "Spirit of 76" Pledge Fund Drive was conducted throughout the community and on July 4, 1976, in combination with the country's bicentennial celebration, the mortgage was paid and burned.
Lot No. 27/57 (116 N. Main St.): The next lot south was owned by Margaret Boesche in 1880. Her father or husband was J. H. Boesche, who came to New Bremen in 1846. He opened a mercantile store and later got into pork and grain. He built the first large brick building on the southeast corner of Washington and Monroe Streets which was destroyed by a gas explosion in 1905. The structure on this North Main St. lot was built very close to the street. It is uncertain if the house that now sits behind the large tree and is owned by Mrs. Franklin Dicke is the same one. A Mr. Ahlers, who worked for the furniture factory before 1900, used to live there, and the house is quite old.
Lot No. 28/58 (112 N. Main St.): A sketch of this property in the 1880 Atlas shows that F. I. Steinberg owned this residence, warehouse and pork packing room. The picture shows the south lower half of the building as a store with display window. It remains quite a bit the same as in the picture. F. Steinberg was listed as selling butter, eggs, and seed - clover, grass, flax. He may have operated out of both businesses; that is, here and Lot No. 2 (9-11 N. Main) which was the stucco building. F.W. Bruns remembers an Adolph Steinberg who engaged in a wholesale country produce business in this former Anna Schwepe residence which her father, William, remodeled for living purposes.
Mr. Steinberg hired two men who drove huckster wagons to gather country produce at Cranberry Prairie, North Star, St. Henry, and other Mercer or Darke County towns. This building was originally built for brewing beer but used for this purpose only for a few years. In The New Bremen Sun, the business is said to have made 1,000 pounds of butter in one day from the cream collected from farmers and 30,000 pounds of butter was shipped to New York in July 1889. Beata Isern said her mother (Adelia Purpus) was born in this house - the family left Germany because of the war. The Purpus family came to begin a brewery since they were burgermeisters, but they left after a short time. There was another building back off the street and to the north of the lot which was a warehouse according to the 1880 Atlas, but it is now gone.
Lot No. 29/59 (104-108 N. Main St.): The next house at 108 N. Main was lived in by Elmer Thielker, then a Mrs. Frey lived there until Walter Rumps bought it. This is a very old house but it does not show in the 1880 Atlas in that position and may have been moved there from elsewhere.
The house at 104 N. Main St. used to sit on the sidewalk. It was moved back at some time. Courthouse records show an 1837 sale of the lot for $10, and an 1847 sale for $200 when some building was very likely there and J. H. Kuenzel bought it. A post office was housed there during the Civil War according to the Boesel transcribed notes. A Lina Kuenzel lived there. It is interesting to note the property was listed as belonging to Mrs. Alex Bourquin in 1880 - Mr. Bourquin was running the hotel and hanging paper as late as 1888. Why was it listed in her name? It was not customary for women to have property listed in their names unless the husband had died. Notice the half-moon windows on this house, a very typical ornate window for early New Bremen houses.
Lot No. 30/60 (102 N. Main St.): Across the street from Zion's Church sits a stucco house. It was the custom around the turn of the century to stucco brick homes. It was thought to increase their attractiveness. There are several houses in New Bremen that were probably stuccoed at the same time by the same workers. (One other was on Monroe Street by the creamery.)
The building is very old and shown in the 1880 Atlas. Mrs. Henrietta Reiher's millinery shop was on this corner before 1900 according to F.W. Bruns. Later, J. L. Hoffman rented the building to put in his Drug Store No. 2. The No. 1 store was over on Washington Street where Schwieterman's is now. There was a frame building that sat on the street in which business was conducted. Beata Isern can remember when Mrs. Bienz had a millinery shop there in the 1920s. At some time, Mrs. Reiher moved her shop into the house and rented out the frame building. That frame building was torn down about 40 years ago. (The house has also been torn down since this narrative was written.)
Lot No. 31/61 north (24 N. Main St.): The New Bremen Centennial book, in describing St. Paul Church, states that in 1833 services were conducted in the home of Berend Heinrich Mohrmann, a two-story blockhouse located on the southeast corner of Main and First Streets. A pastor came once a month. This building also served as the first hotel in the village. It is possible that the structure was dated from log house methods and perhaps additions were built on later.
A large structure shown in the 1880 Atlas on this corner lot is labeled "Hotel”. Owned by J. H. Mesloh, the largest and most distinguished hotel used to be here and was later known as "The French House." It was run by Alex Bourquin, then later, Fred Vogelsang. It is interesting to note that a Frenchman got into this German community and had the nerve to advertise the fact in this business venture. The New Bremen Sun ran sale ads for the hotel in 1888 and 1889 trying to sell the business, but it also listed all the arrivals and departures of important canal travelers who stayed there.
The building was of frame, a huge hulk with a porch-like roof that extended over the sidewalk and onto the edge of the street. The building was torn down in the first quarter of the 1900s. Unfortunately, it was a ramshackle house and full of rodents when it was torn down. It is remembered to be so large that it covered the whole lot including the area of both the Central Auto garage and the Equity building. Beata Isern remembered her Uncle Ed (Klanke) owned it for a while around the turn of the century, and her father was called to take care of a body that had been found in one of the upstairs rooms. It was summer and several days had passed before it was noticed that something was amiss in the room. He often recalled that the stench was appalling and the job very unpleasant when disposing of the body. Beata also remembers a porch on the second floor that ran across the front. The newspaper states the Hotel French was closed temporarily in 1904.
Currently (1976) located on this lot is Dave Kuck’s Welding Shop.
Lot No. 31/61 south (22? N. Main St.): The little white building known to many as the Equity Ice Cream Store. For some thirty years there has been some dispute about its age. F.W. Bruns says there was a little building during the late 1800s in which Henry J.C. Laut had a lager beer saloon and billiard parlor. The Atlas shows a little building in 1880 that is on a lot owned by J. H. Mesloh, the same person who owned the hotel next door. One source remembers several tacky buildings there - one used by the Marble and Granite Company which was torn down when the block building on the corner was built. It is uncertain how old the building is and what its original use was. The building is now (1976) used by Crown Controls Corporation for storage.
Lot No. 32/62 norTH (20 N. Main St.): This lot had two buildings on it in the 1880 Atlas account. This large green house with the white peak belonged to Peter Tomhafe according to the 1880 Atlas. A sketch shows it looking much like it does today. F.W. Bruns says that Tomhafe had a lager beer saloon there, an outdoor summer garden, family grocery, liquor store, and restaurant along with his residence. (The New Bremen Sun says that in April 1888, a new law was sought to close all saloons on Sunday.)
Later this property was sold to John Schulhoff, after Tomhafe died. (Transfer May 25, 1888, in newspaper). The first lunch room in the village was called, "The Famous Restaurant". Liquor and meals were served until the liquor license permit became $500 a year. Schulhoff served only meals thereafter.
Lot No. 32/62 south (16? n. main st.): This building belonged to William Schulenberg. Schulenberg lived in this house and had a post office here. He also had a business in the rear where he sold toys, books, pianos and organs. This is the same Schulenberg who later (1891) built the brick store on Monroe St. which later served as the Gilberg Furniture Store. This building also housed The New Bremen Sun in 1888.
Lot No. 33/63 (12 n. main st.): F.W. Bruns remembers that this was a J.H. "Shorsey" Knost residence. He conducted a patent medicine business and at one time Shorsey's dad operated a lock repair venture. J. H. Knost owned the carriage factory on S. Washington Street in 1880 and made buggies and wagons, too. This lot had an orchard on it after the turn of the century. The house that Mrs. Maurer lived in, replacing the orchard, was probably built in the 1920s.
Lot No. 34/64 (8 N. MAIN ST.): The house built by Louis Wellman, where Hedwig and Pauline Paul lived, is described by F.W. Bruns as being the J.H. Mesloh family dwelling. J.H. Mesloh's grandfather was born in Hannover and came to Bremen in 1830. His grandson, J.H. Mesloh, was born in 1841. He served in the House of Representatives from 1873-1877. He married Minnie Boesel and was in the hardware business and sold agricultural implements.
This home is stunning with its original green shutters, the fancy brackets under the roof line and the ornate pediments on the windows and doorways. It sits right up to the sidewalk in typical German fashion and still has the brick summer kitchen in the back which is now connected with a "porch" area. The building is pictured in the 1880 Atlas but date of construction is unknown.
F.W. Bruns remembers that a Fred Vornholt bought this house before the turn of the century. The front room was used as a bake shop when the lower south half was remodeled into a business room together with the brick summer kitchen in the rear and served as New Bremen's first bread and cake bakery. It was very common that people lived in one half of the house and had their business in the other half in the early days of New Bremen. You can notice the large window on the south would make an adequate display window and the white molding above the window is different.
Probably Dr. Radebaugh had his office there for a time. The front room was the waiting room and the room to the back of the house that is now a kitchen was the examining room. The barn had two stalls in it and the story goes that the doctor always kept two horses - one was a day horse and the other a night horse because the doctor was so often called out to the country and needed a fresh horse. That was before office calls were the only medical assistance.
The house was also used as a boarding house. The summer kitchen was divided into two rooms. The back room was the kitchen and the cooking was done here. The other room was the dining room for the boarders. The pass-through window between the kitchen and dining room is still intact, but it can only be seen from the inside. The Paul sisters bought the house in 19__ from their aunt, Caroline Kappel, who had previously purchased the house from A. H. Soelmann.
Lot No. 35-36/65-66): On the corner sits the beautiful elegant brick building with carved brackets on the roof line now used as a warehouse. Richard Kunning's grandfather had the building as a dry goods and hardware store at the turn of the century. It was taken over by the Mueller Brothers (John & August), who had a men's clothing store there, and later by Bill Uetrecht, who had a grocery store on the east side. There was a large awning that covered the whole front and extended to the street across a board sidewalk. Henry Kunning, and later his sons, ran a general store in both sides. Lafe and Gust Kunning then sold it to Mueller Brothers, who operated the only clothing store for miles in the early 1900s. There was a big one at Lock II, but it was still the time of the tailor who made clothes to order. Standard sizes and ready-to-wear clothes were a new idea in clothing. The building was vacated for a period, owned by Amstutz Hatcheries, and finally used by Friemering's for a furniture warehouse.
A question always comes to mind when looking at this store and the street. Why does Monroe Street angle from Washington to Main? It has been suggested that the interurban needed the extra space for the turn it made here, but the angle is already in the street in the 1880 Atlas, twenty years before the interurban was even thought of. Also, was there any particular significance of the flagpole at the corner of Monroe and Main? (The flagpole in the intersection of Main & Monroe Streets was erected in November 1918 and the flag was first hoisted on November 15th at a celebration marking the close of hostilities between Germany and the Allies in W.W.I. It was taken down in 1937 and moved to the corner of Monroe & Washington Streets. - See “The Towpath” of July 2005 & January 2006.)
Outlot No. 7: Boesels owned all the land on the south side of Monroe Street from Main to Water St. Boesel's Opera House facade is still above the American Legion canteen and adjacent store. In 1880, the whole block was garden except for the brick business building on the corner. It is said that the Indian statue once used on the Fort Loramie school grounds used to stand in that large garden or yard.
A double-fronted building housed the Post Office, Taylor Photo Studio and upstairs was the New Bremen Telephone office and Garmhausen Law Office. It is remembered as being torn down in the 1950s. The building with a small outbuilding in the back is shown in the 1880 Atlas with the owner as Charles Boesel, Sr. (For more history about this location, see New Bremen’s Gazebo.)
This completes the old plat lot histories. You can note some changes since this 2-block Main Street Tour was authored in 1976, but the 'tour' was basically kept intact for this article. All comments, corrections and additions are most welcome, so the master file can be updated and made more accurate. Each and every lot or property has a story to tell with many interesting, historical factors. Please share them any time.