Monday, November 3, 2014

The Roots of Oblio's – A Photo Tour

The November Oshkosh SCENE will be out this week and available all over town. Inside you’ll find my Oshkosh Beer Garden column. This month, I wrote about Oblio’s Lounge and its incredible lineage (you can also read the article online).

There were a lot of pictures I couldn’t include with article due to space limitations. I thought we’d take a look at them here. As always, click the pictures to enlarge them. We’ll start with the oldest photo of the place that I know of...

Circa 1887
What is now Oblio’s started out as the saloon of Charles Maulick. He launched the Schlitz Beer Hall there in 1885, shortly after construction of the building had been completed. You can see Maulick’s sign at the upper right hand corner of the photo.

Here’s a detail of the Schlitz Beer Hall Sign. Wouldn’t you love to know what became of that?

This is what the main barroom of Oblio’s looked like in the early 1900s when the English Kitchen resided there. The Schlitz Beer Hall occupied the southern half of the space with the English Kitchen taking the north portion. The English Kitchen was an “up-to-date restaurant and lunch room... open day and night... luncheon after the theatre and dancing parties our specialty. Best 25 cent dinner in the city.”

This is a postcard with a view looking south down Main. At the extreme left you’ll see what is now 432-434 N. Main Street, where Oblio’s now lives. But at this point the place was vacant. Though there had been a speakeasy operating at the address after Prohibition began in 1920, things dried up after a raid there. Notice how there are no tavern signs. Just doesn’t seem like Oshkosh.

The 1940s
Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and by 1937 there was once again a bar at 434 N. Main Street. The tavern was named John Brown’s Bar. The first picture here shows its proprietor. John Konstantine Kuchubas. This photo still hangs in Oblio’s. Following that is a color photo from from 1946 and a black and white from 1948. Look closely and you’ll see the Schlitz sign hanging over the door of Kuchubas’ bar.

Here’s a portion of a map of downtown showing businesses and property owners. I’ve highlighted 432-434 N. Main Street in white. Look behind the property and notice that what is now a parking lot was once filled with buildings. When you walked out the back door of the tavern, you found yourself in an alley way. Also notice that Schlitz Brewing Co. is listed as the owner. Schlitz purchased the building in 1886 and would own it until 1972. Over the past 130 years, the building has had just four owners.

The Schlitz sign is still there, but the tavern is now named The Overflow. The southern portion of the building is taken by an auto supply store. You know that garage door that opens onto the patio behind Oblio’s? That wasn’t installed as an urban show piece. It was once the entrance to a functioning garage.

An ad from the Oshkosh Advance Titan for Elfies (I’ve seen other ads where it’s spelled Alfi’s, take your pick). A year later the bar would be sold and renamed Oblio’s Lounge.

I wish this one were more in focus, but you get the point. This shows Mark Schultz (left) and Todd Cummings holding yard glasses of beer. Schultz and Cummings took over the bar in 1979. Notice all the craft and imported beers on tap. This is a rare glimpse at the beginnings of craft beer in Oshkosh.

Rudy’s Shoe Rebuilders was then occupying the south half of the building. When Rudy’s closed in 2005, Cummings and Schultz remolded the space and made it part of Oblio’s.

Schlitz returns to Oblio’s. Todd Cummings is on the left, Mark Schultz wears a baseball cap.

Joe Couillard, an Oblio’s regular, mounts an Oshkosh Landmarks Commission plaque on the face of the building while Todd Cummings takes a photograph.

Last night about 4:30 p.m. The old place looks as inviting as ever...

1 comment:

  1. Great stories and Great pictures about the kind of place where everyone knows your name. Owners worthy of us raising our glass to many years to come.