Local historian recalls bustling business district

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Otto Schultz had the first drug store in what is now Kramer Dentistry. The Burkharts eventually took over and put in a soda shop in the front and a pharmacy in the back. Joe Ihm (above) reports you were considered a nobody until you sat at the soda fountain and ordered a Cherry Coke. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

In the past, Guttenberg had a very active business district that included a wide variety of stores offering goods and services. Local historian Joe Ihm recently recalled each business and its location on a walking tour of the community’s historic downtown district. His tour began at the corner of Pearl Street and River Park Drive traveling south. 

202 South River Park Dr. – private residence. “This home was owned by Ben James who had a monument business. He displayed his monuments on the current Tuecke-Allyn Funeral Home property.”

The school parking lot was the location of Ed Kuempel’s Plumbing. “Ed ran the business and Whitey Waterman worked for him.”

The Creativity Center’s Courtyard Cafe was the location of Mr. Jenkins’ Sinclair filling station. “Jenkins had a cement pit on the property. If you wanted your oil changed or vehicle greased he would walk down into the pit to work on the car.”

214 - 218 S. River Park Dr. – Creativity Center, Handsome Hound and Roots. “The Albertus building housed Frank Hinzman’s shoe sales and repair, and Ed Wagner’s carpentry shop. Ed survived a mustard gas attack in WWI and was permanently affected by it.”

226 S. River Park Dr. – private residence. Dr. Duffin lived and had his office at this location. 

230 S. River Park Dr. – private residence. “The home was owned by Wilbur Cerny, who repaired electronics. He lived with Miss Matt, a nurse, who assisted my mother during my birth.”

302 S. River Park Dr. – LuAnn Martin’s Insurance. “The Corner Cafe, owned by Willis Kords, was located at this address. “It must have been a meat market at one time, because the hooks are still in the back. He also ran a tavern around the block in later years.”

304 S. River Park Dr. – limestone rental.  “This was the Ihm residence where Herman Ihm, my father, was born.”

306 S. River Park Dr. – Degnan-Green Insurance. “Bea and Fred Maas had a malt shop at this location. The entrance door was on the side of the building. They sold chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick and called it a smoothie. If it had green ice cream in the center it was free!”

308 S. River Park Dr. – Dam Dwellings. “This limestone structure was built by Herman Ihm, my grandfather, who came to the United States in 1850 and became involved in the hotel business. He lived on the second floor and built a walkway and railing that came around the front of the building. There is a photo of Caroline Ihm, Herman’s wife, standing on the balcony looking out over the town.”

310 and 312 S. River Park Dr. –  Svoboda residence. “Different people throughout the years ran a bakery out of this store front. At one point the Olsons ended up with it. They had a Samoyed dog. My mother hosted a dinner party for Leighton and Rhoda Abel. She purchased rolls from the bakery and when Rhoda opened her roll she found a white dog hair!”  

314 S. River Park Dr. – Dave Boardman residence. “The Junk family had a grocery store in the lower half of the building and lived upstairs. Jack Gull would eventually purchase the building and open up a jewelry store. Jack’s, wife, Tillie, ran it and he spent his days catching walleye in the corner of the Lock and Dam.”

316 S. River Park Dr. – Webster building. “Harry Stoeffler had a meat counter in this building. My chums and I would go in and stare at the wieners and he would finally give us one. He had an excellent recipe for his sausages. His son, Mike, has the recipe but has never given it to anyone else.”

318 S. River Park Dr. – Schuster and Mick Law Office. “G.W. Hunt, Lieutenant Governor of Iowa and prominent Guttenberg resident, had his law office in one half of the building, and the other half was a bank. He owned many properties in the area and my friends and I did indoor and outdoor painting and maintenance for him. He told us he would give us a raise if we promised to attend college, which we all did. Hunt learned to fly an airplane when he was 87 years old.”

3 Goethe –  The Me I Want to Be. “Emerson Wahler had a five and dime in this building with a wide assortment of penny candy.” 

402 S. River Park Dr. - Kramer Dentistry. “Otto Schultz had the first drug store in this building. The Burkharts eventually took over and put in a soda shop in the front of the building and the druggist was in the back. You were considered a nobody until you sat at the soda fountain and ordered a ‘Cherry Coke..’ On Wednesday and Saturday nights all the stores were open. There was a mobile popcorn stand that sold a bag of popcorn for a nickle. The Drugstore’s front window was used to display entertainers. My mother dressed me up in a suit and made me sing ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’ with another little girl my age.”

404 S. River Park Dr. – The Cut Above. Butch Gilbertz had a meat market at this address. “Butch was active in Guttenberg politics. He had a bench in front of his market, and he and Cletus Sauegling used to sit out front and watch traffic go by. They caught Rosemary Tuecke, Judicial Magistrate, running a stop sign and made a citizens arrest. As I recall most of the businesses had a bench for visiting out front.”

406 S. River Park Dr. – Juanita and Russ Loven residence. The location housed Sammy Meyers appliance center.  

410 S. River Park Dr. – private residence. “This home was owned by Bucky and Tillie Harris. Tillie always had a slop pit in the backyard. One time Micky Niemeyer, who was on the fire department, ran through her backyard on his way to a fire call and fell into the slop pit! Tillie was a Bosacker before she married Bucky. Her father was a jeweler. On dance night people used to drop off their watches for repair, head to Lakeside, and pick them up on their way home. Bucky and Tillie owned the Princess Theatre. It cost 10 cents to get into the movies.”

414 S. River Park Dr. – Tujetsch Insurance Agency. This was the site of the Tujetsch and Lentz grocery store. “Mr. Lentz lived upstairs with his family. He loved to fish. He would walk across the street and see if  Miss Schoenauer and Molly Miller were catching bluegills. If they were, he closed the store and went fishing. You never wanted to stand behind those two women when they were fishing. If they caught one they would rip it out of the water and land it behind them. They used a gunny sack with a rock in the bottom to store their fish.”

418 S. River Park Dr. – Mr. Roger’s Hair Salon. “The Schmalfelds lived there and did sewing.” 

420 S. River Park Dr. – Imagine the Possibilites.”Cliff Frommelt’s Toggery, a men’s clothing store, was located at this address. In 1951, the building caught fire and burned his inventory. Frommelt later rebuilt and reopened the successful clothier.”

422 S. River Park Dr. – Ideal Decorating. “The Glover Overall Factory was housed in the lower level of the building. A post office occupied the left side of the ground level and the Princess Theatre was on the right. The Odd Fellows Hall, a lodge for men, was a tenant on the top floor until it closed and was replaced with a bowling alley.” 

424 S. River Park Dr. – Moxie’s. “Moxie’s was always a tavern. Moxie Rademacker was a sailor in WWII and a baseball fan. He was a really nice guy.” 

426 S. River Park Dr. – Kuempel’s Appliance Center. “Cassutt’s grocery store was housed at this location. The proprietor, ‘Nuts’ Cassutt, was a little different. Wilbur Cerny also had a business there.  Kuempel’s eventually bought it from Cerny.”

430 S. River Park Dr. – Kuempel’s Hardware. “In 1856, George Friedlein owned the original hardware store, and Kuempel and Lake took over in the later part of 1901.”

431  S. River Park Dr. – Dam Bar Grill. “Three businessmen. Tommy Thompson, Kuempel, and ‘Honey’ Hunsted had car dealerships in the building. The lower level was used as a warehouse to store goods for local businesses after they were unloaded off the boat.” 

502 S. River Park Dr. – Essers. “Businessman Leighton Abel had a bootery at this location. There was a little stand in there and you could x-ray your feet. As kids, we were in there standing on it all the time. Olive Morhauser sat in there all day and visited with everyone.” 

504 S. River Park Dr. – Connie’s Apparel. “Pauly Meyer’s grocery store was housed in this store front.”

506 S. River Park Dr. – vacated building. “Dr. Meder had a dental office at this location.”

508 S. River Park Dr. – vacated building. “This was home to Dahlstroms Jewelry store.”

510 and 512 S. River Park Dr. – vacated building. “Mahowalds Riverside Cafe and the Mahowald residence were located here.”

514 and 516  S. River Park Dr. – Family Resource Center. “Schroeder’s Hardware was located on one side and Neimeyer’s clothing on the other. Schoeder’s, son, Russell, was an excellent trumpet player. It was fun to listen to him practice.” 

518 S. River Park Dr. – private residence and Rosemary’s Bed and Bath. “Miller Dentistry was located at this address.” 

522 S. River Park Dr. – private residence. “Guttenberg’s first hospital was located at this address.  Dr. Beyer, and his wife, Dolly, lived and worked there.” 

528 S. River Park Dr. – Kann’s Import. “Proprietor Carl Kann originally had a delicatessen and meat counter at this location. He also sold magazines.”

531 River Park Dr. – Pickett Fence Cafe and Catering and Lock Ten Hair Salon. “’Bus’ Kann owned the warehouse across the street. He had a couple of bowling alleys in there and experimented with television early on. He was a great swimmer and built a float for the kids and anchored it to the building. We used to swim out and dive off. ‘Bus’ eventually moved out of there and started Kann Manufacturing.”

“The area off to the right where the stone pillars are was the entrance to board the excursion boat,” Ihm pointed out. “The entrance was well maintained – beautiful flowers and trees and a stone stairway leading down to the river. It was very impressive.” 

7 Schiller St. – Nories Resto Bar. “William Kann and brothers owned the Tip, Top Tap at this address. There was an area in the back where kids could hang out. There were two apartments upstairs that shared a bathroom. My family lived in one of them. My mom would rap on the pipe from upstairs to cue us to see who was in the tavern. We were to report who was in there, and if it was anyone she knew. If there was, she would come down and have a drink. In the 1940’s the Schute family had an ice cream shop in the building.”

“Most of the limestone buildings along the Mississippi River on the east side of River Park Drive had tunnels built under them that led across the street. After WWII most people didn’t have a job or a dime to their name. They would walk around the park and look for loose change and stop in the tavern for a drink of beer.”

See an upcoming issue of The Guttenberg Press for identification of the remaining business district.

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