If These Walls Could Talk

Grenz, Anderson & Straub. "If These Walls Could Talk." Northwest Blade, 28 July 2011.

The building pictured above, at 604 Seventh Street, is currently unoccupied, but what stories its walls could tell! This large two-story brick building is divided into two sections, with a dividing wall running the length of the building. It has housed many businesses and many people within its walls.

Unfortunately, a photo of the original building has not been located. Looking at the upper story, with its curved top window openings and decorative brickwork, one can imagine what a fine building it must have been. It is not known when it was built, but what follows is the history on this site as best as can be traced. The earliest plat maps of Eureka show several different businesses on this site, in small, probably wooden, buildings which predated this brick building, and which were torn down when this was constructed.

The north half of this building will be remembered by many as the former K&A Implement, but its story begins long before.

The earliest known businesses on this site were the L.T. Boucher Law Office; Ole Thorsrud Jewelry & Watch Repair Shop; and a Dr. Waldau’s office. These were followed by the first of several implement businesses, beginning with Jacob Schall. Schall, a prominent Eureka businessman since 1890, was in the hardware, grain buying, and farm implement business, at this and other locations.
In 1906, three brothers, Johann, Jacob and Fred Strobel, bought the implement business of Jacob Schall. The Strobels formed a partnership, known as Strobel Brothers. Their general store added a stock of furniture, sold horse drawn farm machinery and the first Studebaker car in 1914. (A forty horsepower, 4 cylinder, 7 passenger Studebaker sold for $845.00 in 1916, according to old newspaper records.)

The partnership was dissolved in 1920, when Johann’s sons, John and Albert, together with their father, established John Strobel & Sons Implement. They sold International Harvestor implements until 1940, when they switched to Minneapolis Moline Implements. They also sold everything from groceries to cars, including Overland, Studebaker, and Chevrolet automobiles. Theirs was the first Chevrolet dealership in Eureka.

In 1936 and for the next three years, Albert Strobel had a bakery in the basement of this building, accessible from a stairwell in the front, on the sidewalk. And on the second floor, above the implement dealership, there was an apartment, which was home to many people over the years. Henry Straub remembers his Aunt Agnes & Uncle Edmund Schamber living there when he was a boy, and a beautiful shiny black surrey in a storage room at the back. What a mystery! One wonders how and why it was there, and what ever happened to it?

Going to Strobel & Sons Implement Co. was not always just an occasion to buy supplies or machinery. There were always chairs around a stove where you would find local farmers and Eureka residents exchanging views and news. It was open from early morning until late at night on weekdays, and especially on Saturday nights during the summers, when farmers came to town and cars lined the streets for blocks.

Strobel & Sons Implement was purchased in 1951 by Albert Kramlich and Fred Aman. They renamed it K & A Implement, selling Minneapolis Moline tractors and equipment, Serge milking equipment and supplies, and groceries. In later years, they added other lines of machinery including J.I. Case, Case I-H, Sperry New Holland, Ford Tractor Co., Oliver, and White Farm Equipment. During those years, the Albert & Ella Kramlich family lived in the apartment above the business, with their children Roger, Karen and Keith. (In 1971 a machine shop was built behind K&A, on the west end of the lot (purchased from the Schamber estate.) In the early 1980’s, Fred Aman lived in the upstairs apartment, and since then, it has been unoccupied.

Keith Kramlich, Albert’s son, took over K&A in 1983, moving the business down the street to the former Fisher Equipment building in 1986. Following the departure of K&A, the building was empty until Hieb Electronics, owned by Todd Hieb, located there in 1988. He later sold it to his father, Merle Hieb, who is presently using it for storage.

The south half of this brick building has an equally interesting history. It has been unoccupied for many years, but was once housed a hotel, apartments, and bar. Once again, however, there were other buildings on this site prior to the current brick building.

Eureka’s first Post Office was located on this site in the Reagan & Hooper General Merchandise Store, according to the 1962 Jubilee edition of the NW Blade. John E. Reagan was one of Eureka’s first businessmen, moving here in 1887 and going into business with F. H. Hooper. Reagan & Hooper apparently sold the store to Clarence Parkhurst, in about 1889, and relocated to another location.

The Parkhurst family changed the business into the Parkhurst Hotel. Room rates were $1.00 per day! There was also a restaurant on the first floor, the Parkhurst & Wacker Restaurant, but known as the Siberian Cafe.

Mr. Parkhurst also bought cream, butter and eggs, and sold the first cream separators in the area, and was the first to buy cream separated by machinery. The office of the first telephone exchange, known as the Eureka Telephone Company, was also in the Parkhurst Restaurant (until 1900.) As one can see from the photo, it was wooden structure on this location at the time.

Later, the hotel was known as the Eureka Hotel run by Dave Bauer, and then by Gottlieb Keim. In 1935, Lillian Gardner purchased Gottlieb Keim’s interest in the Eureka Hotel and changed the name to the Park Hotel and Cafe. (The building was still owned by Jacob Strobel.) Many Eureka residents remember Lil’s Café, which was on the ground floor of this building.

The hotel’s name was later changed to The Dakota Hotel and remained that way as long as it was a hotel. There were rooms for rent upstairs, 2 apartments and a bar on the first floor. The Dakota Hotel bar was a hangout for local teens, who remember the sunflower seeds on the floor, pinball machines, and putting peanuts in Pepsi as a favorite drink. It was owned by Peter Gabriel after 1956 and into the 60’s. Keith Kramlich remembers hanging out the window of his family’s upstairs apartment, looking at the crowds of people entering the bar on Saturday nights and listening to the commotion—it was quite the rip-roarin’ place!

Other owners or operators (before and after Gabriel) were Jakey Kirschenmann, Alvin Loebs, Johnny Wiedmeier, Henry Olson and John F. Wolf. For many years following, the building housed the Rath-Neuharth Apartments. It was also the site of a youth center known as Teens ‘R Us, owned by Wolfgang Kitzler. The space is now abandoned.

This building has seen everything from horse-drawn machinery to modern tractors, families with children to itinerant salesmen. It now stores boxes, and old memories within its brick walls.

Story courtesy of the Northwest Blade, Eureka, SD.
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