THE HISTORY OF THE BUILDING THAT IS LOU MALNATI’S (PART 1)

If you look at the Yelp reviews for Lou Malnati’s in Schaumburg, one of the things you’ll notice is that many people believe the building is an old house that was, at some time, remodeled into a business. Given that the early history of this building is unknown, it’s possible that it did start its life as a house, but it’s doubtful. The location is just too good.

The intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle was the heart and soul of Schaumburg Township during the rural period. It’s where the farmers came to do business in the sparsely populated area. There was, at various times, within easy walking distance of the intersection, a general store, a hardware store, a blacksmith, a bank, a garage, a grain mill, a creamery and a hotel/tavern.

While we do not know the exact year that the building was erected, the best guess we have is from the Schaumburg Township portion of the 1875 Van Vechten and Snyder’s Real Estate Map of Cook & DuPage Counties. The map shows a building directly on the corner of the intersection. Given that other buildings around it are listed as a wagon shop, blacksmith and school, it was obviously a commercial corner. Taking a look at the same map for 1870, there is nothing on the corner. So, somewhere between 1870 and 1875, the building could have been built.

Interestingly, Wayne Nebel, the longtime owner of the building during the 1960s, 70s and 80s stated in a Daily Herald article from January 1, 1975, “As near as we’ve been able to tell, it’s about 90 years old.” This would mean it was built around 1885. Given the fact that Mr. Nebel came from the German farming contingent, he might have gotten his facts from some of the locals who knew of the building either personally or from their ancestors. So, maybe his judgement is correct.

That being stated, the next time we find any mention of the building is in a 1901 article from the Daily Herald. This article mentions that on June 25, H.C. Hattendorf or Herman C., would be turning over his hotel and saloon to Henry Quindel (pictured below.) I also discovered that Hattendorf is mentioned in the 1900 census as a “saloon keeper.” His age at the time was 26 so we know he hadn’t held the job and/or owned the building for long–and that someone definitely came before him.

Another mention in the November 3, 1905 Herald states that “H.E. Quindel quit biz at the old stand Nov. 1 and turned the keys of the hotel and saloon over to Jno. Fenz who will open a hardware and farm machinery story there next spring…in [the] charge of Herman Fenz with Herman Gieseke as tinner.”

An article from the Palatine Enterprise of January 26, 1906 says that “John Fenz & Son expect to open their new hardware store, about Feb 15. Louis Menke and his force of carpenters were transforming the old Quindel hotel and saloon into a model store. A new glass front will be put in the west side fronting the prospective Palatine, Roselle & Wheaton Electric R.R. A fine large cabinet that cost $300 with counter, numerous drawers, pigeon holes and glass front, will afford a model and convenient place to display cutlery, fine tools and fancy goods. A splendidly equipped tinshop will occupy the old ball room. The business at this new establishment will include a complete line of light and heavy hardware, stores, farm implements, etc. Herman Fenz will manage the new store, and Herman Gieseke, who has served 6 years with Reynolds & Zimmer at Palatine, will be able to give entire satisfaction, in charge of the tin shop.”

This wonderful description gives us a glimpse at the building’s interior and what it was used for at the turn of the century. If you look at the photo above from 1913, the glass front looks like it was actually part of the front door. Also, it is my understanding that the ball room was on the second floor, separated from the commercial end of things. Imagine carrying all of that tin to the second floor to work on. I suspect, too, that the framed portion on the north side of the building possibly slid aside or dropped down to allow access for merchandise to be brought into the building.

The railroad that is mentioned never materialized, though there were many discussions of it in the paper. It was obviously designed to connect the Union Pacific Railroad in Wheaton to the Union Pacific line in Roselle to the Chicago and North Western Railroad in Palatine. Other potential north/south lines were also proposed at one time or another but the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern was the only one built, even though it was much further west.

This ad appeared in 1909 and, clearly, the Fenz family had sold the store to their tinsmith, Herman Gieseke. In fact, in a 1911 article, the store is mentioned as H. J. Gieseke’s Hardware Store.

This ad from July 25, 1913 throws a bit of a wrinkle into the mix, letting us know that Mr. Gieseke relocated to a new building. Unfortunately, not only am I unsure which building it was but, a year later, in the September 18, 1914 paper, it was reported that “H.J. Gieseke’s hardware and grocery store” burned.

A few years passed with no mention of who was occupying the building on the corner. The next tidbit appears in the November 14, 1919 issue of the paper where it mentions that the “first social hop of the season will be given at Freise’s Hall, Schaumburg.” Yet another mention in the May 14, 1920 paper advertises another social hop at the same place. Both record Ed. Diekman as the manager. Curiously, Mr. Diekman’s profession in the 1920 census is listed as merchant of a cigar store.  We can only assume he was operating a cigar business in the old hardware store as we know, for sure, that the Fenz store on the southwest corner of the intersection and Lengl’s tavern were definitely occupied.

The next time we meet him is in the October 17, 1924 paper that mentions “E.H. Diekman is getting lined up to start a general store in the former hardware store.” So, we presume he was expanding his cigar business and, in fact, a later article in early 1925 says, “One of those good old time programs will be given Saturday evening Feb. 16th in the Diekman hall above the Schaumburg store…” It didn’t last long because, by November 20 of the same year, it is reported that he had discontinued his business.

We then have another gap in ownership until 1930. We’ll meet more owners next week as the history of building that is Lou Malnati’s continues…

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

2 Responses to “THE HISTORY OF THE BUILDING THAT IS LOU MALNATI’S (PART 1)”

  1. John Mathews Says:

    I believe either Mr. Gieseke or a relative operated Gieseke Hardware in Roselle (it was destroyed by a gas explosion in the 1950’s). Roselle got the RR because Colonel Roselle Hough paid the RR to route thru Roselle.

    • jrozek Says:

      It was John and Amanda Gieseke who owned Gieseke’s Hardware in Roselle. Thank you for making the connection!

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

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