Keller's Celebrates 100th Anniversary In Same Spot On Strasburg Main Street

"Keller's Celebrates 100th Anniversary In Same Spot On Strasburg Main Street." Emmons County Record, 10 June 2011.

The third generation of the Valentine and Emilia Keller family celebrated the 100th anniversary of the family business last week in Strasburg.

Since 1974, Keller Hardware has been owned and operated by Dick Keller and Gary and Judy Keller. Dick and Gary’s sisters, Judy Dosch and Mae Bosch, also work in the store.

It was 1911 when Valentine Keller, Sr. quit farming and bought a buggy and implement shop from early Strasburg businessmen Will Cleveringa and Louis Dornbush. In 1916 Valentine built the Keller Hotel on the same prominent corner of Strasburg’s Main Street, just a block away from the railroad tracks and depot. Many hotel customers came and went by passenger train in those days, and the hotel was an easy walk from the station.

In addition to operating the hotel, which included a restaurant (now the east side of the hardware store), Valentine continued the farm equipment business.

In 1941, part of the ground floor was converted to a hardware store, and the hotel closed in 1943. The hardware store expanded on the first floor, and most of the furniture and fixtures were left just as they were on the second floor for almost 70 years.

Valentine’ three sons—Valentine, Jr. (Rudy), Eddie and Max—took over in 1947. They discontinued the farm implement business in 1955, and Rudy began doing excavating work along with running the store. His son, Dick, now does the excavating and plumbing part of the business.

After buying out his brothers in the 1950s, Rudy operated the business until his death in 1979. Gary joined the operation in 1967, and Dick joined in 1974.

The old hotel on the second floor has been carefully preserved, and two of the rooms have furnishings that have been there since the beginning.

Other rooms are furnished with antiques collected by Rudy, Gary and Dick over the years. Included are all of the furnishings from the long-closed Security State Bank, including the teller’s cage. The old bank building was incorporated into the Strasburg State Bank and was what is now the northeast corner of the structure.

Other rooms include a barber shop, a dining room with the original restaurant furniture and dishes, a living room and a memorabilia room with advertising items from various businesses in the area, most of them closed for decades.

Gary Keller shows Frances Nieuwsma a “hamburger flipper” that was a promotional item for a Strasburg business many years ago. The Keller Hotel museum has a room dedicated to advertising memorabilia.
Dick Keller shows the extensive plumbing supply section of the store. He handles excavating and plumbing operations for the business.
The old Keller Hotel is much like it was prior to 1920. Two of the sleeping rooms have the original furniture which have stayed in place since the hotel closed in 1943.
Although the exterior of the building was covered in a remodeling project years ago, the original stained glass windows are intact in the hotel.
The old Keller Hotel is much like it was prior to 1920. Two of the sleeping rooms have the original furniture which have stayed in place since the hotel closed in 1943.
Judy Keller holds the congratulatory plaque the store received from its supplier, United Hardware Distributing Co., Minneapolis, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the business.
After the Security State Bank closed, Valentine Keller, Sr. purchased the contents of the building, including the teller cage. The “bank” is now displayed in one of the upstairs hotel rooms at Keller’s.
Rudy (Valentire Jr.) and Edythe Keller
Keller’s was busy all week with its anniversary celebration. Waiting on customers above are, left to right, Judy (Keller) Dosch, Judy Keller and Mae (Keller) Bosch.
Enjoying their lunch at the open house are, left to right, Amanda Huber, Abby Scherr and Mary and Malachi Huber.  Amanda, Mary and Malachi are children of Marvin and Leona Huber, and Abby’s parents are Ken and Nyla Scherr, all of Strasburg.
Students who helped serve the meal on Thursday are, left to right, Suzanne Ternes, Emily Luebke, Madelyn Kramer, Jon Stabler, Jennifer Wikenheiser, Mason Kramer, Kellie Tougas, Drew Ellingson, Jesse Schwab, Brooke Scherr and Scotti Scherr, all Strasburg High School Juniors, and Mara Nysetvold of Fargo, a friend of Emily’s.
The implement business was owned by Louis Dornbush, left, and Will Cleveringa and purchased by Valentine Keller, Sr. in 1911. It is believed the building was originally in Eureka, moved to Pollock and then moved with horses to Strasburg. When the Keller Hotel was built in 1917, the walls of the building were incorporated into the new building. During remodeling projects over the years, evidence of the original business were found, including a Mitchell Wagons side imprinted with Hays & Black, which was the name of an early Pollock business. Cleveringa retired and lived in a house he built in Westfield. Because of the distance to Strasburg, he sometimes stayed at the Keller Hotel, and his name appears in some of the old register books.
Valentine Sr. and Emilia Keller and their children are pictured alongide the Keller Hotel. 
Valentine, Sr. and Emilia Keller pose next to their home in Strasburg.
Valentine Sr. and Emilia Keller pose alongside the hotel with 10 of their 13 children. Left to right are Valentine “Rudy” (Sept. 26, 1914), Helen (August 25, 1912), Cecilia (Dec. 5, 1910), Lucille (Feb. 23, 1909), Joanne (May 31, 1907), Katie (Oct. 6, 1904), Julia (Feb. 27, 1903), Mary (Nov. 23, 1901), Emilia (Aug. 5, 1899) and Regina (Aug. 4, 1898) and her husband, Lawrence Schwab. The picture was taken before the births of Max (Oct. 8, 1921), Edmond (April 5, 1919) and Rose (Oct. 24. 1917).
The children of Rudy (Valentine Jr.) and Edythe Keller are, back row, left to right, Mae Bosch of Strasburg, Ron of Gadsden, Ala., Nancy of West Fargo, Judy Dosch of Strasburg and Gary of Strasburg; front, Dick of Strasburg, Bob of Bowbells, and Dave of Strasburg.
This picture was taken in 1982 when the exterior was being re-done. The hotel windows upstairs are still in place but are covered by the exterior facing.
The store front has been modernized over the years, and now has a brick facing and canopy.
Gathered by the store’s anniversary banner are, left to right, Gary and Judy Keller, Austin Int Veldt and Dick Keller. Gary, Judy and Dick own the business which was started in 1911 by Gary and Dick’s grandfather, Valentine Keller, Sr.
Standing in the well-stocked hardware store in 1948 are Rudy (Valentine, Jr.) Keller, left, his sons, left to right, Max, Eddie, and Val. The east section of the building was originally the hotel restaurant, and the tin ceiling remains intact today.

Reprinted with permission of the Emmons Country Record.

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