If These Walls Could Talk: Part Two: American Legion Post #186
Anderson, Grenz & Straub. “If These Walls Could Talk: Part Two: American Legion Post #186.” Northwest Blade, 29 December 2011, 5.
Built in 1954, the building known as the American Legion could be called the new kid on the block when compared to the two buildings bordering it. The location of the American Legion vacillated between many spots for over 30 years until the present structure was erected in 1954. Let us explore what was on this lot prior to the Legion Building.
Jacob Schultz and Fred Weize purchased Lot 9, Block 4, Second Addition of the town of Eureka, in January 1891. By July 1897, George Bippus was the owner. Bippus was one of the earliest general merchants in Eureka and one of the original 1893 school board members of the Eureka Independent School District. He was known for loaning money to people trying to establish businesses in the emerging town.
In March 1898, George and Elsie Bippus sold it to Frederick and Fredericka Frankhauser for $1,000. Although not known what business Frankhauser had here, he later had meat markets in other locations.
A man named Frederick Dufloth owned the lot and building from June 1906 to August 1907. In a Eureka Business Directory, Dufloth was listed as owning a shoe store.
Joseph Schatz bought the business from Dufloth in August 1907 for $1,600. The 1909, 1911, and 1916 Eureka Business Directories list Joseph Schatz as owning a shoe and harness repair business.
The direction of the business changed in March 1916 when brothers Henry and Albert Hoff bought the building, turning it into a pool hall, as listed in the 1916 Eureka Business Directory. Henry Hoff bought out his brother two months later. Hoff sold to John Oberlander on February 3, 1919. Although unknown if this continued to be a pool hall, certain later statements indicate so. Because of a defaulted mortgage, a sheriff’s sale was held April 1925 with the building going to the Guaranty State Bank (later known as the Eureka State Bank). The Eureka State Bank turned the building over to the Eureka Holding Corporation in April 1931.
The Eureka Holding Corporation transferred the building to H.M. Rickmeyer for an undisclosed amount of money in 1936. Earlier, Rickmeyer had purchased the Gamble Store Agency from John Wahl, running it in a different locale. Rickmeyer now opened a Gamble Store in this building ("…the old pool hall building, then occupied by the 132 Club" --1937 Book) until February 1940, when he sold the business to another prominent Eureka businessman, Gideon Klein.
Gideon Klein had worked for and owned several different local ventures, including gas and oil businesses. After purchasing the Gamble Store business from Henry Rickmeyer, Klein ran it until 1946, selling the business to Gamble Skogmo of Minneapolis, who moved Gambles into the Eureka Bazaar building. Klein sold his building to Otto and Andrew Pfeifle in September 1945 (1987 Centennial Book).
Otto Pfeifle, with his father Andrew, and brother Reinhold, started their Ford tractor and implement business here. In July 1947, the Pfeifles sold the building to brothers-in-law Julius Jakober and Rudy Schnabel, who continued to sell tractors there, as J & S Implement(?). Julius’s brother, Sam Jakober, said the building was not very large, and perhaps only one tractor could be displayed at a time.
The next owners were Edward and Esther Lindemann who did mechanic work and sold Fergusson machinery. The building burned down, and in 1954, Gottlieb Lindemann, Edward’s father, sold the lot to the American Legion Fred Weller Post 186.
We now return to how the Fred Weller Post 186 evolved. This chapter was named after Fred Weller who gave his life in WWI. Their charter was granted April 28, 1920. Charter members were Andrew Martell, Fred Wenger, R.A. Harr, R.H. Isaak, H.O. Hepperle, John J. Strobel, Peter H.J. Henneck, C.D. Harr, W.H. Dennis, and Fred K. Schock (1987 Eureka Centennial Book).
Meetings were held in various places—bank basements, city council rooms, and most uniquely, a passenger train coach purchased in 1936. After WWII, a larger meeting place was needed due to the many returning soldiers. A double garage was purchased from J.P. Kiesz in 1945, renovated, and used for five years. The Eureka State Bank basement was then used until 1954, when the current lot was purchased.
The American Legion building was built for $23,000 in 1954. Many, many hours of volunteer labor kept the cost of construction manageable. The main floor houses the bar and a place for conversation and camaraderie. The basement is used for meetings, receptions, reunions and personal parties.
Shortly after the Legion’s charter was issued, the American Legion Auxiliary was organized, May 3, 1922. Any Legion member’s wife, mother, sister, or daughter was eligible to join the Auxiliary. The purpose of the Auxiliary was to enhance and participate in the main goal of the Legion which is "to serve as they served." (1987 Eureka Centennial Book).
In 1999, the brick building directly south of the American Legion (old EEE Main Office) was purchased for $8000 and annexed for a supper club and kitchen. Weekends usually see a full house taking advantage of the delectable menu offered.
Both the American Legion and Auxiliary continue to be a driving force in Eureka. They sponsor community, school and sporting events such as Boys/Girls State, local Snow Queen contest, essay contests on patriotism, Memorial Day poppy sales, teaching flag etiquette, the Teeners baseball program, scholarships, and the local Memorial Day Service.
"To Serve as They have Served" is a timeless and meaningful motto and one that we would hear if these walls could talk to us. It is one that each of us should try to implement.
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