If These Walls Could Talk: Present Day Wolff Den

Grenz, Anderson & Straub. "If These Walls Could Talk: Present Day Wolff Den." Northwest Blade, 11 August 2011.

In its heyday, Eureka had three banks serving its residents. The Farmers and Merchants State Bank was the third bank for the city, incorporating in 1907. Officers were John Stoller, president; John Doering, v. president; and G.G. Klein, cashier. They constructed a large brick and stone building with a half basement, a novel idea at the time. It had space for other offices or businesses on the main floor and in the basement. It was built where earlier businesses had existed, including the John Wilson Store and the Matt Perkins Store, according to the 1937 Jubilee Book.

The bank operated until Oct. 13, 1930, when found insolvent by the State Bank Examiner. A sign appeared on the door of the bank stating "BANK CLOSED because someone else wants a job." Early in 1931, the depositors of the Farmers & Merchants State Bank formed a corporation to resolve the business of the closed bank. A liquidation board was elected with Art Bjork as president. The officers of the bank had been Philip Schamber, pres.; John Liedle, v.p.; A.W. Schumacher, cashier; John Doering and Philip Weixel, board members. These men were obligated to pay into the liquidating funds a sum equal to the amount of stock they held in the bank. After collecting all debts and a sale of the bank’s assets, a final payment was made to the depositors of $.65 on the dollar. (Ted Straub Autobiography, p. 234)

While the bank was in operation, lawyer Theo. J.P. Giedt had his office in the north part of the building. Shortly after the bank failure, the records show other businesses locating in the building. In 1930, Nathanial D. Harr relocated his barber shop to the basement of the building, partnering with other barbers there until into the 1960s. The American Legion used the basement as a meeting room at times.

In 1932, the City Library began, with 250 donated books, in the north side of the basement, accessible from the sidewalk stairwell in front of the building. The library was moved to the City Hall in 1947, but a fire at City Hall in December 1953 forced it back to its basement quarters until 1956, when the Eureka School Auditorium was built and the library was moved there.

Also in 1932, J.E. Witters, surgeon, opened his offices in this building. Other businesses followed, including Dr. Paul W. Treick, DDS, who had moved to Eureka in 1919, purchasing the business of Dr. Ernest (E.E.) Snow and later moving the business to this building; Fred (F. J.) Homeyer Law Office, locating here in 1935; and The Style Shoppe, which Martha Quast and Alma Bender opened here in 1935. This building also housed, at various times, Dr. Otto Kramlich, DDS; Ray Schock Painting & Photography; and possibly a beauty shop and jewelry store, though no names have been found. In the 1950s, Lila Schultz Kramlich lived in an apartment at the back/west end of the first floor. And for a time, Adolph Heckel, gravedigger, used the basement for storage and as a hangout for his cronies.

This building was also a temporary home for the Eureka Post Office, which was also forced to move after the City Hall fire in December 1953. The Post Office remained in this building until a new post office was built in December 1956.

Finally, in 1966, the Veterans of Foreign Wars purchased the building which was then known as the Treick building, remodeled it extensively, and opened it in 1967 as a bar and meeting place. They added a 45’x70’ addition to the west end in 1974, which has been used for many wedding receptions, dances, reunions, craft fairs, and even Schmeckfest musical revues. A full kitchen and meeting room in the old basement served as home for the VFW Post 5126 and Auxiliary, and other organizations. In 1990, the VFW Bottle Shop opened, following the closing of the Municipal Liquor Store. Finding it too burdensome to operate any longer, the VFW members finally searched for a buyer, after 40 years of operation.

Gary Wolff is now the owner of this historic building, leasing it in 2006 and purchasing it in 2010. It is a popular gathering place in town and is still rented for many large functions. In addition to the bar, there is a tanning salon located here. It’s hard to believe all that has happened in this building since its beginnings. Just a heads-up—there must be some good booze at the Wolff Den—some of the liquor is stored in the old bank vault!

One of the grandest buildings in Eureka, this brick and stone building was constructed in 1907 as the Farmers & Merchants State Bank. It went on to serve Eurekans in many capacities in its 105 years.
The Wolff Den, owned by Gary Wolff

Story courtesy of the Northwest Blade, Eureka, SD.
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