Thompson House #1 - April 1968

Thompson House #2 - April 1968

Thompson House #3 - April 1968

Thompson House #4 - April 1968


(from The Evening Leader - 2/28, 4/20, 4/29/1968)

A resolution was passed at the January 1968 meeting of the New Bremen Village Council and Mayor Frank Dicke giving permission to the Lions Club to "institute a park and recreational development project" on the Komminsk tract shortly after the land was donated to the village by Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Komminsk. The two buildings on this land were the lock tender's house (nearest the canal lock), which also served as a hotel for the boatmen, and the livery stable (located northwest of the house) which was originally used for the mules that pulled the canal boats.

The livery stable ("Thompson" horse barn), was torn down by members of the Lions Club and other volunteer help including Lendor Schneider, Jim Schnell, John Gilberg, and Lee Kuck in February 1968. The "lean-to" on the south side and much of the siding and roofing of the large barn were removed on Sunday afternoon, February 25th. The razing was completed within the next few weeks, and the contents of the building and the good salvaged materials were sold at an auction.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, 1968, crowds of people lined the banks of the Miami-Erie Canal near the area where Lock One was built more than 120 years before to watch the historic lock tender's house burn to the ground as 203 firemen from 33 departments participated in a training session sponsored by the Central Western Firemen's Association. Permission had been obtained to do this even though some thought the house should be restored and preserved. A 60-foot hard maple tree in front of the house was saved except for a few end branches.

The "Thompson" house, so called because of the last family who lived there and tended the canal lock, was 2½ stories high and had 14 rooms. The bottom was built of stone and had a kitchen and wine cellar. The rest of the house was bedrooms and sitting rooms. It had oak floors and 4 x 4 oak rafters. There was only one chimney. From the small windows near the top, the lock-tender could see the canal boats coming around the bend and immediately ring a bell to put in operation the opening and closing of the locks. Taxes were paid on only half of the house, because it was built on state property shortly after the locks were constructed in 1839. The last family to live in the house was the Matthews family. Another family that lived there for some time was the Herb Gross family.

The Thompson House
The "Thompson House"