Dec. 29, 2017 – West Bend, WI – This is a great history story about West Bend from 2015 with comments by William Kirchner of West Bend.
The picture, courtesy Steve Kissinger, looks north on Main Street. City Bakery remained on the corner of Highway 33 and Main Street through the 1970s.
“Gonring’s Tavern was on the corner; I was in that building,” said 96-year-old William Kirchner of West Bend. “The men’s entrance was on the corner and the women’s entrance was on the end of the building because women didn’t go to the bar years ago.”
Kirchner, who made 18-cents an hour when he started work in 1933 at West Bend Aluminum, remembered coming to town as a kid and parking his horse and wagon by a big horse barn on Seventh Avenue. “You could put your horses in that barn, leave your wagon on the street and then go shopping. You’d put whatever you bought in the wagon and go and get a drink if you like and then hitch your horses back up and go home,” he said.
The beer of choice at Gonring’s Tavern was “West Bend Lithia of course,” said Kirchner. “The kids had West Bend soda; either root beer, green river, cream soda or orange.”
Kirchner said the building next to Gonring’s was John Baren’s Hardware, next to that was a harness maker, and then Tessman’s shoe-repair shop and Schnepf tavern.
John Gonring of West Bend also recognized his grandfather Matt Gonring’s Tavern.
“Grandpa remodeled it in 1932, moving the barroom to the street level, added a ladies’ entrance to the north, and renovating the second and third floors to very nice living quarters. To the west up the hill was a horse barn. Previous property owner was M.B. Goeden who was Matt’s father-in-law.”
Jerry Mehring also chimed in. “The corner building was Gonring’s Tavern, then Five Old Guys and now the martini place, JP Foz’s, 302 N. Main St.”
“Highway 33 turned west there at the traffic light. A door or two north of the tavern was the Monaco Cafe,” said Mehring.
Janine Matenaer, 77, of West Bend grew up behind the Monaco Café. “That’s the fifth building from the left in the photo; my mom and dad, Walter and Ella Schnepf, ran that and we lived upstairs,” she said.
“I’d crawl up on the roof and I had a crush on this guy and he’d come walking down Wilson Avenue and I’d sit up there with my binoculars – oh, he was a lifeguard at the park and I’d spend all my summers out there.”
Matenaer recalled her grandfather Adolph G. Schnepf first had a harness and buggy business, Schnepf Bros., on that block. The Monaco, a restaurant and tavern, later opened in1940s – 1960s. “You went up a couple steps and it was the tavern and you walked straight in and it was the restaurant with an old-time counter and there was a back room and old wooden booths,” recalled Matenaer.
Recognizing the red brick building in the photo, Matenaer flashed back to Baren’s Hardware. “I remember going in there and it was run by Frank Wolf and every time I went in it would smell so hardwarey,” she laughed. Later Landvatter Inc. moved in and sold and fixed radios and black-and-white TVs.
“Next to that was an apartment building with two floors and then next to the third building in the photo was City Bakery and Arnold Kannenberg ran that,” said Matenaer.
The Monaco Café was later torn down when the fire department was built on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Highway 33. Records in the Research Center at the WCHS indicate the corner building in the photo is the Farmer’s Home and M. B. Goeden Saloon. Notice the stop-and-go light and the sign advertising Gonring’s Resort on Big Cedar Lake.