After a wonderful vacation in Australia, time with my oldest son and granddaughters, and a month away from my laptop, my attention returned last week to local history, but my thoughts remained in the west – as in Princeton’s west side.
I have long been intrigued by the building and additions shown in the photo above that stood near the southeast corner of state Highway 23/73 and Second Street, home in my youth to the West Side Grocery and Tavern and Kristy’s Standard Service station and today part of the Princeton Mobil Mart property.
I detailed the history of Kristy’s gas station in a previous post (First Gas Stations) but only briefly mentioned the wood-frame building that originally occupied the property shown on maps as Lot 20 of Block 1 of the (Royal) Treat and (Waldo) Flint Addition, which was platted in 1857.
The original building was the first saloon and the only watering hole on Princeton’s west side for much of the 19th century. In May 1940, Mary Corenke, who was born in Princeton in 1855 and operated a candy store at 431 West Water Street for many years, recalled for the Princeton Times-Republic that her parents, August and Wilhelmine Reich (Rich), operated a saloon in the west side building at Main and Second streets when she was a young child.
I checked at the Register of Deeds office and found that the Reichs purchased Lot 20 and other parcels north of the mill race for $50 from Princeton founder Royal Treat in February 1863 (Deeds, Volume U, Page 309). They sold Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 17, 18, 19 and 20 (site of the saloon) to August Swanke for $1,000 in February 1873 (Deeds, Volume 34, Page 164).
Swanke, who operated a wagon factory and blacksmith shop across Second Street (Highway 23) from the saloon, sold the properties to Wm. Glentz for $1,000 in December 1873 (Deeds, Volume 34, Page 427).
Glentz’s saloon prospered when F.T. Yahr, Royal Treat and other organizers moved the monthly Princeton Cattle Fair from the downtown triangle to “market square” near Main and Second streets in 1874.
Princeton Republic, February 1874 – “There is talk of holding the monthly fair on the west side of the river in the future. There is one saloon keeper, Glentz, on the west side, who thinks he does not get a fair share of the customers on fair days. The change seems to be for the purpose of giving him a benefit.”
The newspaper’s critique of the first west side fair was less than glowing.
Princeton Republic, March 7, 1874 – “The monthly cattle fair was held on the west side this week, but from appearances the one saloon on that side of the river did not get all the customers, nor did the crowd stay on that side. The stores and saloons were all full on this side, and we are sorry to say there was more than the usual amount of drunkenness on such occasions in town. Toward night several fights occurred, eyes were blacked, noses punched out of shape, thumbs bitten badly, and a general carnival was in order. We are sorry to see these fairs degenerating into more days of drinking and carousing. They way they are conducted will soon become a public nuisance. If they are to be kept up to benefit the farmers, the saloon keepers will have to be more cautious about selling their heavy goods and not overload their customers. A great many persons on Wednesday carried double weight, and as many others had heavy bricks in their hats. It is a great wrong and a shame on our civilization.”
Glentz sold the saloon property back to Swanke for $1,300 in April 1884 (Deeds, Volume 45, Page 43). Swanke sold to Wm. Knoblock for $1,400 a week later (Deeds, Volume 45, Page 50). Knoblock built the first of two additions to Reich’s original saloon.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 25, 1884 – “Knoblock, the saloon man on the west side, is building a large addition to his premises to be used as a saloon.”
Princeton Republic, Aug. 29, 1889 – “Complaints come, pretty strong substantiated, that the saloon on the west side should be closed up. If the village board would revoke a few licenses, for keeping disorderly places, the lesson might prove salutary.”
Knoblock, who later ran a saloon in the Buckhorn building on Water Street, sold Lots 18, 19 and 20 (saloon site) on Main Street to Frederick Schendel for $2,100 in April 1890 (Deeds, Volume 49, Page 142).
Princeton Republic, May 8, 1890 – “Fred Schendel has purchased the Knobloch property over on the west side.”
Schendel built and operated the City Hotel at 532 West Water Street for several years and later a jewelry store. For a brief time, he owned a share of the Princeton brewery. He also built the building at 538 West Water Street that was most recently occupied by Once in a Blue Moon Restaurant.
Schendel built a second addition (two-story) to the east side of his Main Street building in 1891.
Princeton Republic, June 25, 1891 – “F. Schendel is building an addition to his saloon on the west side.”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 24, 1891 – “On the west side the roomy addition to his building that has been erected by Fred Schendel is about completed.”
Schendel sold the property, valued at $3,100, to Jacob Messing as part of a land swap in March 1894 (Deeds, Volume 52, Page 91). Messing had operated the Princeton brewery with John Ernst and then the Commercial Hotel on Water Street.
Princeton Republic, March 15, 1894 – “It is rumored that by a recent deal Jacob Messing comes into possession of the Schendel property on the west side and Schendel comes again in possession of the property now occupied by Mr. Messing.”
Princeton Republic, July 12, 1894 – “Jacob Messing and family have moved over on the west side of the river and taken possession of Fred Schendel’s old stand, while Schendel takes possession of the hotel property (532 West Water Street, now a vacant lot with a brightly painted fence) vacated by Messing. We understand the hotel part of the business is suspended.”
Princeton Republic, July 2, 1896 – “Jacob Messing will not take out a saloon license this year but has secured the agency for an improved tailor system of cutting and will devote his time to canvassing.”
Jacob passed in January 1921, but the dwelling, described in probate court records as the “Messing homestead,” was still occupied by Elizabeth Messing in 1922.
Groceries and soft drinks replaced the saloon during much of Prohibition (1919-1933). Business ventures in the 1920s included the Princeton Cash Grocery operated by R.A. Ives (1921) and a store operated by John Stelmacheske.
Princeton Republic, July 28, 1927 – “Last Tuesday forenoon, federal men came to this city and raided the soft drink parlors of Henry Stelmacheske and Edw. Sullivan, both located on the West Side. It is alleged that illicit liquor was found.”
Princeton Republic, May 28, 1925 – “Harry Strand, of Reedsburg, has located in our city and will make your feather beds into mattresses or pads. Have this work done at home. Prices are right and first-class work is guaranteed. Factory in the Messing building, West Side.”
Elizabeth Messing sold Lot 20 to John and Phyllis Kalupa in August 1927 (Deeds, Volume 89, Page 9). The original building was moved the following spring to make room for a gas station – the fifth in Princeton – and reportedly used for a garage. According to the newspaper, the former Messing residence was remodeled or rebuilt into a grocery store and soft drink parlor.
Princeton Republic, April 19, 1928 – “John Kalupa and crew of men are busily engaged in making arrangements for a filling station on the southeast corner of Main and Second streets. The main building now occupying the corner and used for a grocery store will be moved in the extreme rear of the lot to make room for the station. The new station will be built of red brick, will be modern in design and fitted with a rest room. The east wing of the old Messing building will be remodeled and transformed into a grocery store, while that part of the building moved back will be utilized for a garage. Mr. Kalupa has engaged the services of contractor August Arndt of Markesan to do the carpenter and mason work.”
John Kalupa hired managers for the gas station until son-in-law Edward Krystofiak took over in 1939. John and Phyllis Kalupa sold the Lot 20 property to their daughter, Alice Krystofiak, in July 1964 (Deeds, Volume 182, Page 161).
Kristy’s station remained an anchor of the west side until being forced to move during reconstruction of Highway 23 and replacement of the Main Street bridge in 1983-1984. The Krystofiaks razed the 1928 gas station and rebuilt just south of the original site, saying in June 1984 they had gone from being the oldest station in town (it wasn’t) to the newest.
The Krystofiaks sold the property in December 1987. Condon Oil Company’s plans to expand the Princeton Mart a year later included demolishing the grocery store/tavern building that had been operated by a member of the Kalupa family from 1928 to 1968.
Former baker Anton “Tony” Kalupa Jr. operated the grocery store from about 1930-31 until his death in 1954. He obtained a tavern license for the property following the end of Prohibition.
A newspaper article in 1988 described the Kalupa Grocery and Tavern as “the typical neighborhood store and bar where customers congregated to discuss the events of the day or enjoy a hand of cards. Tony would slice off a bit of cheese or sausage for his customers. … He was a very compassionate person, giving credit to needy families for large amounts.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 27, 1953 – “Tony Kalupa, Lee Bednarek and Joe Kalupa, of Milwaukee, will return Friday from a vacation with Harry Lindner of Montello at his cottage at Tipler, Wis. This is the first vacation that Tony has had since he took over the grocery store in 1931.”
Following Tony’s death at the store, his sister Genevieve (Kalupa) Klawitter and her husband, Matt, purchased the business in 1955 and opened the West Side Grocery and Tavern. They offered free lunch from 8-11 p.m. for the grand opening in May.
The bar also adopted the name PyeAlley, the iconic tavern complex at the intersection of state Highways 23 and 73 about three miles east of Princeton owned by the Klawitters when it burned in 1949. They also had a bar on Water Street bearing the same name before the west side venture.
(Editor’s note: Although the newspaper generally used Pye Alley as the preferred spelling, the tavern’s name has also been spelled PyeAlley, Py Alley and Pye-Alley over the years.)
The Klawitters ran the west side business for 13 years; the Krystofiaks continued to own the building.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 11, 1968 – “The west side grocery and bar has changed owners after being operated by some member of the Kalupa family for almost 50 years. Mrs. Elda Gabryshak became the owner of the business owned and operated since 1955 by Genevieve and Matt Klawitter. Mrs. Klawitter is the former Genevieve Kalupa. … Mrs. Frank Makurat will continue as clerk and operator. The business will be called Gabby’s Bar and Grocery.”
Gabby’s Bar and Grocery, also known as Elda and Paul’s, was replaced by Mini-Mart and Bar in 1977.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 28, 1977 – “Philip and Lois Bonardi are the new owners of the grocery and bar business operated by Paul and Elda Gabryshak on the west side for the past nine years. … The store and bar will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. The name of the business is Mini-Mart and Bar.”
Following the Bonardis, Marty and Edee Joyce, of Chicago, added food to the grocery and bar business before buying the nearby Western House in 1980.
New owners resurrected a familiar name two years later.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 11, 1982 – “’Pye Alley,’ a name in the Princeton business world for many years is one again on the active list of local businesses. … The little store and bar on the west side which has been closed for some time, was opened on Monday, March 1, by Kathy and Dick Leow, local residents. They’re going to keep the name of Pye Alley Tavern because, as Kathy said, ‘We love old things and will preserve anything from the past.’ … Dick’s ‘Pretty Good Deli’ has been added to the business with the help of mother and mother-in-law, Alice Walker, who is well known for her culinary art.”
New occupants arrived again in 1985. Jan and Roy Manweiler obtained the Riverside Avenue liquor license (a Water Street bar) in January 1986 and opened in February. They remodeled into a full bar.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 6, 1986 – “Roy Manweiler and Jan (Gruenwald) Manweiler are the new owners of Pye-Alley, which opened February 28, 1986.”
“PyeAlley was empty, so we negotiated a move,” Jan Manweiler recalled earlier this year for princetonhistory.com. “… There was a pay phone on the wall outside of the back door (southwest side, closest to the gas station). We answered it if it rang. On August 16, 1986, I used that phone to call my parents to ask them to pick me up, I was bartending and I needed a ride to the hospital. I called around looking for someone with a bartending license to keep the bar open, and found Steve Memenga, son of owner of the Fun Farm. Roy was working more than full time at Delmonte in Markesan. He drove his motorcycle to find me at Ripon Hospital. That was a Saturday late afternoon and Joy was born about 2 a.m. Sunday.”
As noted earlier, the Krystofiaks sold the Lot 20 property in December 1987. The new owners razed the grocery store building a few months later.
Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 18, 1988 – “The west side business building which served as a grocery store and bar since 1928 was razed to make room for the expansion and improvement of the Princeton Mart (formerly Kristy’s). It took Wicks only a couple hours on Saturday morning, February 13, to down the building which probably took weeks to build. … On December 31, 1987, the Condon Oil Company of Ripon purchased the entire corner property, with store building and station. The removal of the frame building is part of the company’s plan to improve and expand the Princeton Mart.”
Please let me know if you spot any errors or can fill in any gaps in the timeline.
Thanks for reading and caring about local history.
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