Thiel Building, East Room – 508 West Water

The east room of the Thiel double building, 508 West Water Street, right, housed The Loyal Theatre from about 1919-1921.

This is a continuation of the history of the August Thiel double building at 508-512 West Water Street. The first part dealt with the west room at 512; this part deals with the east room at 508, which had been a vacant lot when Thiel purchased the property from Royal Treat in 1869 to make room for his two-story brick building.

The Princeton Republic announced on Oct. 1, 1870, that W.J. Frank would take the east room of the new Thiel double block when it opened later that month.

I am unsure, however, when Frank moved out, and I had more difficulty tracking the tenants of the Thiel building east room than west room in the 1870s. I think that a dry goods firm of Correnke & King, succeeded by King & Luther, occupied the space for a time, but that is more guess than certainty.

We do know, from a note in the Princeton Republic, the Collins brothers were in the east room of the Thiel block in February 1879. They were followed by Frank Aplin’s Princeton Cash Store in 1880.

Princeton Republic, March 24, 1881 – “After holding forth in the ‘red brick’ (513-519 West Water) for six or seven years, H.H. Harmon has moved his stock of furniture into Thiel’s block, occupying the rooms recently used by Frank Aplin.”

Harmon bought his own property in the 400 block of Water the following year and was replaced in the Thiel block by Clark Bros. in July. The Clarks did not stay long; nor did other occupants such as Will Whittemore, Ote Warren, Sam Erbe, and Jones & Truesdell, whom the Republic reports were in the Thiel building at various times in the early 1880s.

Princeton Republic, May 1, 1884 – “Another change in the mercantile circles of this village has just taken place. S.M. Eggleston and Henry Manthey have purchased G. F. Gavitt’s stock in Thiel’s block, the new firm taking possession the first of this week.”

Manthey (John Henry Manthey, often referred to in the Republic as J.H. Manthey) found a new partner and operated as Manthey & McCoskey for a short time before striking out on his own.  In 1907 he purchased the building at 620 West Water Street (Hannabarger photography in 2020; vacant in January 2021).

Princeton Republic, Sept. 5, 1907 – “J.H. Manthey has been moving his general merchandise into the building recently purchased located at the lower end of Water street. He has a nicely arranged store.”

He remained there until retiring in 1939.

Meanwhile, Manthey’s former general store in the Thiel block became a hardware store operated by William Buettner, who lasted just over a year.

Princeton Republic, January 28, 1909 – “Richard Artman, who recently transferred property in Lakeland, Minnesota, for the hardware business owned and operated by Wm. Buettner the past year, has opened for business occupying the same business block vacated by Wm. Buettner. Mr. Artman is a man well versed in the hardware business, having been a leading dealer in Lakefield for the past eleven years.”

Artman left the Thiel building for the Yahr building at 525 West Water in 1912.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 29, 1912 – “The stock of hardware conducted by Mrs. W.R. Yahr and daughters was recently purchased by hardware dealer Richard Artman. The later who is now conducting a hardware and tin shop business in the store of Rev. A.G. Hoyer will remove same in the near future into the store of Mrs. W.R. Yahr.”

Princeton Republic, May 23, 1912 – “Richard Artman who for the past several years has conducted a thriving hardware business in the store of Rev. A.G. Hoyer for the past several years has moved his stock of goods into the hardware store of Mr. W.R. Yahr have purchased same stock in connection with his own. Mr. Artman now has a full line in every department and solicits a share of your patronage.”

Princeton Republic, June 5, 1913 – “For sale or rent: The large and convenient solid stone and brick building situated in most prominent part of business section in the city. Building composed of two stories and is suitable for any business. Enquire of Rev. A.G. Hoyer.”

Hoyer’s next tenant would leave a lasting impression on the Princeton business community. Hyman Swed opened a general store, “The Cheap Cash Store,” there in September. He would lease the store at 544 West Water five years later, operate in two locations for a year, and then consolidate at 544. (His son Morris joined the firm in 1939. Hyman passed in 1969.)

Princeton Republic, Sept. 11, 1913 – “H. Swed has leased the Rev. A.G. Hoyer store building, next door to the Union Meat Market, and will open a general store. His goods are now arriving and will be ready for business within a few days.”

Princeton Republic, May 30, 1918 – “A deal was consummated last Wednesday between the O.R. Luedtke Estate and Hyman Swed whereby the latter takes over the stock of general merchandise of the former. Mr. Swed has also rented the estate building and took immediate possession. He will also continue the business he is now conducting in the Rev. A. Hoyer block.”

Swed advertised a big removal sale at his store in the O.R. Luedtke building (544 West Water) in March 1919, saying he was reducing stock in anticipation of occupying a single building. “We have already closed the store in the Rev. Hoyer building and the stocks are too large to combine,” the ad noted.

Alfred Warnke converted Swed’s former space in the Thiel building into a theater. He held a contest to select its name and chose The Loyal as the winner. With H.W. Krueger conducting the Loyal Orchestra, the first movie to play under The Loyal name in 1919 was “The Man From Mexico” starring John Barrymore.

The Loyal apparently closed sometime in 1921 and the building again became home to a general store, operated by longtime local merchant Aaron Fishkin, who was displaced from a building in the 400 block when Warnke tore it down to make room for an auto garage.

Princeton Republic, March 17, 1921 – “A. Fishkin is busily engaged in remodeling his store recently acquired and which he intends to occupy in the near future.”

Fishkin passed away in January 1930 at Mount Sinai hospital in Milwaukee. The block was sold to the Princeton State Bank for $4,000 in September 1931.

Princeton Republic, March 31, 1932 – “Princeton is to have a new bakery. E. Peterson, of Milwaukee, came here last week and was granted a lease on the Fishkin store building. He will come here next week to arrange the building, install his bake ovens and the necessary outlay. The front room will be neatly arranged with show cases for the display of bakery. Mr. Peterson expects to have everything completed by April 20.”

The bakery apparently did not last long, but its successor certainly did.

Princeton Republic, April 27, 1933 – “Stanish Hoffman, who recently became the owner of the A. Fishkin building, having purchased it from the Princeton State Bank, has workmen engaged in remodeling the basement and arranging it for a tavern. An outside stairway will lead to the basement.”

Edward Roguske purchased the property in September 1945, but Hoffman continued to operate a tavern there for years afterward.

My newspaper research ends in 1945, so I have not yet verified it, but the City of Princeton Historical Walking Tour indicates the Polcyns (John and Leona) took ownership in 1959. I do not know when they closed.

The Cruz Inn was there in 2004, according to the Water Street Chronicle, and the tour indicates The Rumors Bar was there in 2011.

The Happy Medium bar opened in 2019 and continues to occupy the space in 2021.

If you can fill in any of the occupant or owner gaps, please let me know. Thanks!

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