LIFE AT SCHAUMBURG AND ROSELLE ROAD IN THE 1920s AND 30s

Last week Florence Catherine Bell shared her stories about what it was like to attend the one-room Schaumburg Center School.  We received interesting and detailed information about the school that we hadn’t known before.

Because she was game for a few more questions, I decided to take a different tact and ask her about some of the businesses that were in place at the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads in the 1920s and 30s.  We have that wonderful set of postcards of this intersection from 1913 and it seemed like a good idea to tie the questions to those photos.  Let’s take a look at what she had to say…

 

In 1913 when this photo was taken this building was Farmer’s Bank of Schaumburg.  It was on the northeast corner of the intersection and was moved in 1980 when the intersection was widened.

During Florence Catherine’s time in Schaumburg Township, her parents, James Austin and Florence Bell, did not use the bank but they did go in periodically.  Florence Catherine remembers that it was small inside–even to a young girl’s eyes.  She does not recall bars on the windows that a number of banks had during that time.  She had no memory of a safe or vault or of any robberies that occurred.

She did say that, as far as she knew, there were only the teller and his wife who worked there and they lived in the apartment above the bank.  She remembered the banker as Mr. Kraft.  In doing a bit of research, I discovered in a January 16, 1925 article in the Herald that this 100 year old lady wasn’t far off in the memories of  her 7-year-old self!  His name was William C. Kreft and he was listed as the cashier.

In 1913 this building was a hardware store that was on the southeast corner of the intersection.  It is currently Lou Malnatis.

Florence Catherine remembers this as Schnute’s Tavern.  It was owned by Herman Schnute and was, again, visited by Florence Catherine only a few times.  She noted that this was a saloon even though Prohibition was in effect.

She had a cute story about how her horse ended up having a beer at Schnute’s.  “I was riding my horse, and there were all these guys standing outside of Schnute’s, shooting the bull.  I stopped to talk to them and they got the idea to take the horse inside the bar to get it a beer.  [They guided the horse into the bar], the horse smelled the beer and it backed out of the bar.”  The horse obviously knew better.

As far as the buildings to the right of Schnute’s, she did not recall what their purpose was.

This was the Fenz store that was on the southwest corner of the intersection.  It was a general store and farm implement dealer and, unfortunately, burned down in 1924.

Even though Florence Catherine would have only been 7 at the time of the fire, it’s such an unusual building that I couldn’t resist asking her what she knew about it.  She did not remember the building but she did recall that the bottom part was still there.  She said, “We would cut across the area where it was burnt” as they walked to and from the Schaumburg Center School that she attended on Schaumburg Road.

This parcel remained empty until Schaumburg’s first mayor, Louis Redeker, built a small, one-story building on the corner that later became the Tri Village/Ace Hardware.

Originally a hotel and saloon that was owned by Charles Krueger, the business was purchased in the 1910’s by Frank Lengl.  He eventually renamed it Lengl’s Schaumburg Inn.

Florence Catherine’s father was a friend of Frank Lengl so she knew this building well.  She said Mr. Lengl went to Germany and brought back two nieces and two nephews.  (They attended the Schaumburg Center School to learn to speak English.)  One of the boys helped in the bar and the other acted as a stable boy, taking care of the barn and animals.  According to Florence,  Mr. Lengl had a “trotting horse” that he would ride to the Bell’s house.  She also said, “When Daddy wouldn’t let me have the bridle to my horse, I would go over to Mr. Lengl’s and borrow one from him.”

The nieces helped Mrs. Lengl in the kitchen since Lengl’s offered both food and drink.  Florence specifically mentioned that steaks were served in the good sized dining room.  As far as drinks went, the bar had a “doors wide open” policy during Prohibition.  People would come from Chicago to go to Lengl’s.  It was “like a nightclub and had rooms upstairs.”

Mr. Lengl also built a big stage at one end.  The public schools would use that area for their graduations.

This is a drawing that her granddaughter drew of the layout of Lengl’s during the years Florence Catherine was familiar with the business.  Orient yourself by where the door is at the corner.  Behind the bar area was a partition that separated the restaurant from the bar.

This is a view of the intersection looking south down Roselle Road.

By the time Florence Catherine lived at Stratford Farms, Roselle Road was paved while Schaumburg Road was still dirt/gravel.  According to her, the view looking south didn’t really look that different during her day–except for the fact that the Fenz store to the right was gone.

She did note that, during the time her family lived here, the Latner family moved to the small town center and opened a small store on the east side of Roselle Road.  The lady of the family and her son ran the store.  According to Florence Catherine, it was located between Lengl’s and the dairy (Buttery.)

Roselle Road itself was wide enough to allow automobiles to maneuver the pavement.  The ditches were VERY deep and when they filled with snow and ice, “they would be level with the road and we would walk on the ditches on the way to school.”

Between the narrow road and the steep ditches, visitors to Schnute’s and Lengl’s would not always be able to stick to the road due to the drinks they had enjoyed.  After winding up in the deep ditches, people would knock on the door of the Bell home at 2:00 or 3:00 and her father would get “a team of horses out and hooked up early in the morning to pull those cars out of the ditches.”

I’ve heard stories about how narrow this road was in the 1950s and 60s so it sounds like the situation really didn’t get much better over time.  Things finally changed after the road was graded and widened.

It’s nice to have these small details added to our local history.  Kate, thank you once again for your sharp memory and good observation skills.  I still can’t believe that you remembered Mr. Kreft’s name!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

 

 

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