Highland News Leader

Building on Washington Street side of the Square stood as a saloon for decades

The building at 1017 Washington Street, likely built sometime between 1864-1866, stood until 1993, when it was torn down to make a parking lot.
The building at 1017 Washington Street, likely built sometime between 1864-1866, stood until 1993, when it was torn down to make a parking lot. Courtesy photo

Louis Ernst, the barber, had an advertisement in the 1892, 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America, newspaper. “Louis Ernst, Tonsorial Artist, Shaving, Shampooing, with Hair Cutting a Specialty”.

By 1912, Louis was celebrating his 25th year as barber. When Louis retired, his son, Eugene Ernst, had also become a barber and took over his father’s shop. The shop was a small frame building, just east of the Highland Bank (later 1st National Bank) on Main Street.

“By 1937, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Ernst and two sons and had built a new building where the barber shop had originally been located. This new building had the Ernst Barber Shop on the west side and the Kroger Store in the balance of the building. The Ernst family apartment was on the second floor. Eugene’s had sold their home to Dr. and Mrs. Robert Rosenthal Sr. (May 1, 1937 Highland Journal). Eugene Ernst died in 1970, and his wife, Sarah, died in 1977. (Russ Hoffman’s, column No. 13 in The Shopper’s Review in 1984.)

“Then the Ernst building was sold to Floyd Tschannen, and it became the west part of Tschannen’s Ben Franklin. (Today, it is the empty lots, just east of the Highland Chamber of Commerce building. These empty, almost two lots, are now owned by Ralph Korte. Ralph and all of the people interested in seeing Highland start to rebuild and rejuvenate the buildings around the Square or Plaza, are hoping something can be accomplished soon.)

“The old, brick building at 1017 Washington St. has been a saloon for many, many years. It was also called the ‘Vestibule Saloon.’ 

I had been unable to find out who built it, but the No. 1 Book of Abstracts for the village of Highland is now at the Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library. So Monday morning, Kathy Kessels at the library photocopied page 268 for Block 22, Lot 8, which is this old saloon, which is now a parking lot for Plaza Dental.

Here are the details: The lot, in 1839, was purchased from James Semple and Joseph Suppiger by John C. Wesselhoeft.

Wesselhoeft, in 1864, sold Lot 8 to John Menz, who was an uncle of the John B. Menz of the First National Bank and C. Kinne & Co. I don’t know if John Menz built a building on this lot, but in 1866, John Menz purchased lots 11 and 12 on corner of Pine and Broadway, and there he built a brick store building. This store was later enlarged and became the Highland Store Co.

Also in 1866, John Menz sold this Lot 8 to Leopold Knoebel. Leopold borrowed $2,000 from Mrs. Carolina Suppiger in 1867. (Did Knoebel borrow to build the building or was the building built by John Menz and he needed additional funds?)

In Morris Moser’s booklet about saloons in Highland, the earliest record of ownership that Morris Moser had was Louis Schwarz listed as: “on the east side of Square.” This was verified by the No. 1 Book of Abstracts.

“Louis Schwarz, in September 1895, purchased the saloon and borrowed $4,000 from Leopold Knoebel.” That was the last entry on Page 268. Evidently, Louis died, and his widow, Mrs. Emily Schwarz, ran the saloon. In the Good Old Days in 1972, under “60 years ago,” it reads:, “On Oct. 24, 1912, the Schwarz Saloon was owned by Mrs. Emily Schwarz, and she disposed of her saloon business on the east side of the Square to Christ A. Deuser.”

I contacted Christ Deuser’s grandson, Bernell Deuser, who knew that his grandfather had a saloon, but didn’t have any details.

Morris Moser’s details from the Highland Journal of Aug. 14, 1913, follows: “Christ A. Deuser sells his saloon to Edward Hirschi and Hirschi will take possession on Sept. 1, 1913.”

Christ Deuser purchased the saloon on Oct. 24, 1912 and sold before Aug. 14, 1913, maybe Highland’s shortest period of time as a saloon owner. No wonder the grandson, Bernell, had no information about the saloon.

The late Donald R. Seifried Sr.’s book Highland In Focus has a photo on Page 6, of the original Leopold Knoebel Saloon. Don also had the same problem, no early information, so he listed, “Gilomen’s Saloon, Deibert’s Tavern, Pete Miller’s, Chucker’s, and is now Siggy’s.”

Then, Siggy’s building was owned by Darwin Schmidt of Darwin Schmidt Music Store. Dr. Robert Hellige, who owned Plaza Dental, needed a parking lot. So about 1993, Dr. Hellige purchased the old Knoebel Saloon building, tore it down, and made his parking lot.

(Thanks to the late Russell Hoffman and Don Seifried, also to Ralph Korte, Morris and Verla Moser, Kathy Kessels, Bernell Deuser and Dr. Robert Hellige, for their information.)