If These Wall Could Talk: North Central Service Agency and Main Attraction

Grenz, Anderson & Straub. "If These Walls Could Talk: North Central Service Agency and Main Attraction." Northwest Blade, 19 January 2012.

Little Mary Worthy was one of the first children in Eureka when she moved to "End-of-Track" with her parents, John and Martha Worthy, in 1887. Her English father had given up on farming after losing his crops and buildings in the Leola fire and hoped to make his fortune in the livery business instead, operating a large livery stable in Eureka from 1887-1892. In 1892, he opened the Worthy Meat Market, selling meats, fruits and vegetables, first in a small building and then moving to a larger building, 24’x76’, located on Lot 2/Block 4. It was right in the middle of the action in the bustling new town, a place that Mary Worthy loved and never forgot. She was in the first graduating class of Eureka in 1898, as an eighth grader, then attended Madison Normal School and became a teacher in Eureka. Her sister, Edith, was the first baby born in Eureka, in 1889. Although her family moved in 1903 to Ashley, ND, and then to Canada, her childhood in Eureka remained a golden memory. Years later, the pioneer town of Eureka was immortalized in her book The Land They Possessed, loosely based on the family’s experiences.

John Worthy’s meat market was next door to one of the most prominent businesses in Eureka—F.W. Boettcher’s Bank. This beautiful building was constructed in 1891, on the corner of Market and Main, Lot 1/Block 4, directly across from the Bank of Eureka. Fred W. Boettcher, one of early Eureka’s most noteworthy citizens, had moved to Eureka in 1888. That spring, his brother opened a bank on this spot in a building only 8’x10’. F.W. Boettcher took charge of the business; and three years later, in 1891, built a new bank, 24’x40’, "supplied with one of the best safes in the state—a Carey screw-door safe, weighing two-and-a-half tons. … Boettcher was sole owner until April 19, 1897, when the bank was re-organized under the name German Bank of Eureka" (F.W. Boettcher biographical sketch). Business must have been good, and Boettcher must have been an enterprising businessman. By 1899, he owned a ranch in ND, engaged in the ice and coal business, was president of the Eureka & Mound City Telephone Company, owned and operated grain elevators in Eureka, Hillsview and Ipswich, and owned 1000 acres of land. Well respected, he was Eureka’s first mayor, in 1892. Later, by 1914, he and his wife lived in Minneapolis.

In the early 1900s, it appears that the German Bank was bought out by its competitor, the Bank of Eureka, owned by Charles Pfeffer, which then took on the name The German Bank. "According to Mark M. Smith, one of the earliest residents of Eureka, the [Boettcher] bank building was moved [date unknown] to the second block east of the depot and became a home for Daniel Harr" (1962 NW Blade, Jubilee Ed.).

The corner on the city square was a choice location, obvious to the next man on the scene, Johannes Emil Dierenfeldt. A self-made man, Dierenfeldt came from Germany in 1883 at age 17, working in packing plants around the country. Returning to Germany, he served in the German army for two years and then returned to the US. He moved to Eureka in 1899 and bought the Frankhauser Meat Market with August Schmidt, who sold out a year later. In 1909, Dierenfeldt took a big step and bought the corner location on Market and Main. He built the large white brick building on Lots 1 & the N½ of Lot 2 which still stands today, and remembered as the Dierenfeldt building (a small building behind his business served as his ice house).

Dierenfeldt was a complex man. He is remembered by youngsters of the time as a gruff, no-nonsense man, who chased them away if he thought they were up to no good. On the other hand, he was generous in his business dealings. Ted Straub remembered, "By 1935, drought conditions had become so bad that the government offered the farmers $5 per head for diseased cattle and $20 for healthy animals. …Emil Dierenfeldt, our family butcher, was given the job by the government of disposing of the young calves. It was beyond his comprehension that this meat should be wasted. So he secretly gave his good customers a quarter of this choice meat" (T. Straub Autobiography). Besides being an excellent butcher, he developed a variety of dent corn which was successfully grown in many parts of the country (1987 Centennial Book). He also operated a farm and feedlot on the south edge of town for many years, with a large barn which burned in 1911. Dierenfeldt ran his business with the help of his wife and five children, until his retirement. He was a strong community supporter, donating the land for the Eureka Lutheran College.

Dierenfeldt’s Market was followed by the Alexander Mehlhaff Furniture Store. Mehlhaff owned a mortuary and furniture business a few doors down and moved his furniture into this building sometime after 1937. Herbert Kallenberger and Eugene "Ike" Oster bought the Furniture Store business in 1947 (100-Yr. Chronology). Oster moved to Linton, ND in 1958 to run a furniture store.

Emil M. and Barbara Hoff bought the building from Alex Mehlhaff in 1955, operating a café here and in Bowdle until 1958. The Hoff Café was a popular hangout for the local youth, who enjoyed the modern tabletop jukeboxes in each booth.

The first Coast-to-Coast store in Eureka was opened in this building in 1958 by Wilfred Mauch. The family lived in the basement during the seven years they operated the store. Edmund & Florence Albrecht moved to Eureka, buying the business in 1964, and leasing the building from Emil Hoff. They also lived in the basement for a short time. Needing a larger facility, they then purchased the former Eureka Motor Sales building owned by Ray Kiesz, remodeling and moving into it in late 1974.

Another of Eureka’s most progressive businessmen and civic-minded citizens, Milbert Schick, bought the building from Emil Hoff in 1976. He remodeled it into office spaces for his businesses, Eureka Realty and North Central Service Agency, specializing in real estate, insurance, investments, accounting and tax preparations for the past 36 years. Tim Weber, attorney, was a brief partner in Eureka Realty. Others who have had offices here are Gary Krein, Hieb Excavating, John Thurn, and Kappes Trucking.

In 1987, Milbert and Frances Schick opened a beauty salon here called The Main Attraction, now in its 25th year of business. First managed by Susie Brockel, it was taken over by Wendy Jo Fauth in 1993, who then bought the business in 2003, remodeling and expanding its services.

Both The Main Attraction and Eureka Realty are still located in this building, and continue to provide significant services to Eurekans. This corner has certainly seen some of Eureka’s most memorable businesses and business people—important players in the story that is Eureka.

German Bank/ Mike Lutgen, Fred Boettcher and Walt Phoeler.
North Central Service Agency & Main Attraction.
Dierenfeldts Eureka Meat Market built in 1909. Eureka Fleischladen.
German Bank est 1891. Worthy Meat Market to the right. John Nipolt & Bill Franhauser.
Main & Market street corner with Boettcher German Bank, Worthy Meat Market and Herried-Williams-Williamson Att.

Reprinted with permission of the Northwest Blade

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller