East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

Follow-up to January’s “Remembering Schenks Corners”

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 9, 2010

We promised to summarize the articles Ann Waidelich read at the January meeting for the blog. Here you go!

“Schenk’s Corners was once Swamp and Cow Pasture” by Judith Stolz
published in East Side News Dec. 8, 1949

The first building on the corners was the blacksmith shop built by C.R., Amoth in 1876 at the corner of Amoth Court and Atwood Ave. Amoth’s shop served as a landmark until 1928 when it was torn down to provide room for the restaurant owned by T.C. Amoth and later sold to Grace Crabtree (now Mrs. Bob Leske).  When the blacksmith shop was razed, an era went with it, for it was the last blacksmith shop east of the Yahara River.

In 1893 Fred Schenk and his family came from North Leeds to open the Schenk Grocery and Tavern on the corner of Atwood and Winnebago. The intersection was to become one of the busiest corners in Madison.  Fred Schenk died in 1913 and William Schenk and Art Huegel went into the grocery store business as the Schenk-Huegel Co.

Many of the families kept their cows where Borenstein’s store is now (1988 Atwood at corner of 2nd St.) The streets were annually affected by the spring thaw.  It took four horses to pull a cart down muddy Atwood Ave. during the wettest springs. But the trolly car went through except during heavy snows.

One of the most popular spots on the corners in the early 20’s was the Palace Theater (1951Winnebago St.) with its nickel shows. It was operated by Tom Michelson until it closed in 1930.  Olson’s Jewelry Store (then Elmo Peterson’s) now occupies the building.

“Schenk’s Corners is its own kind of place” by Chuck Patch
published in WORT’s The Back Porch Pilot April 1977

“People can’t have any idea what the corner used to be because the average person just hasn’t been here that long,” says Mrs. Wally Flagstad. “We’ve been in business here for 30 years,” she expained, “but my husband will be on his 50th year because his father had a little place over  where Phyllis Collins has the Nibble Nook (2013 Atwood).

Arnold and Benny Foss ran the Royal Blue, one of the independent groceries on the corner for nearly 40 years (2001 Atwood). “The store on the corner next to Flagstad’s Flower Shop has in my memory always been a grocery,” Arnold said. “My brother and I came out here in 1928.  Benny was appointed manager and worked until 1932, at which time it was owned by Kroger’s.  Louis Pfister, who owned the building, got together with Benny and a fellow named Larson who was the butcher at Krogers, drew up a lease and gave Krogers their 30 day notice to vacate. Benny, Larson and me moved in and got the store opened in a hurry.” Flagstad Flower Shop expanded into the old grocery in the early 1960s.

Around the corner from the flower shop stands a row of stores that include Olaf Strand’s bakery (2007 Atwood) and the old Papa Joe’s restaurant (2009 Atwood).

The Ideal Bar plays host to a diverse crowd that generally decreases in age as the evening wears on, but on Friday nights there is a special function. “It’s kind of a hangout for the deaf,” says Tony Pollara, who bought the bar about 24 years ago.  “When we took over, these two guys, Harry Ellis and Howard Davis, who were deaf, always came in here, and after a while people came in to see them and then other people and it got to be a hangout.  In fact some nights, Friday nights especially, we may get 30 or 40 deaf people in here.”

Chris’s Tap Room (now Players, 2007 Winnebago) is a bomb shelter.  “Curtis Doell built this place during the Korean War in 1951, James Christenson explained.  “Every wall is 18 inches thick pre-stressed concrete. It would take at least two direct hits with a bomb to break through the shelter in the basement.”

4 Responses to “Follow-up to January’s “Remembering Schenks Corners””

  1. Steve Dunn said

    In 1947,1948,1949 on a Christmas Evening, Schenks Corners was highlighted in snowflakes, as my father pulled our Flexible Flier Sled from East Main Street(1 block away),with us on board, over to the Boy Scouts Christmas Tree Lot, those years on Atwood Avenue.

    The old hanging street lights glowed in soft beams against sparkling snow flakes, and lite the way through the wonderous place known as Schenks Corners. Christmas Lights hung everywhere, the colors making the “Corners” even more dream like and memorable.

    We’d tie the tree to our sled and walk hand in hand up Atwood,then across the “Corners” intersection, in front of Security State Bank,…on past old Larkens Hardware,… down the alley through the “Barrel Factory”, back over the tracks, to Main Street,silently gleaming with twinkling lights in the swirling snow storms.

    The snow crunched under our boots, with each year seeming to be more memorable. Schenks Corners Christmas memories, are as clear today, as they were during those Childhood Christmas Adventures.

    I would give anything for one “long exposure” photo of those wonderous “Corners” in that evening light, but then again memories are certainly as powerful as lasting impressions!!

  2. off licence shops…

    […]Follow-up to January’s “Remembering Schenks Corners” « East Side History Madison’s Blog[…]…

  3. pat bloom said

    Does anyone remember “Shorty’s Cafe? He was my grandfather. I would love a pic of the place, was it the Q hut that i see?

  4. Jerry Kennedy said

    One of my favorite places was the Nibble Nook Hamburger shop!

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