Grimms was the place to be with Svacina's Red Lamp
The village of Grimms was named in honor of Jacob Grimm, one of the early settlers. The railroad was built through the village in the late 1800s. Soon after the coming of the railroad, the lime kilns were built with Geo. Gosz as the first foreman.
The Svacina’s Red Lamp building is one of the oldest landmarks in Grimms. Early recorded history on the site notes a wooden store building here, 28 feet long and 18 feet wide, 1 ½ stories high. At the time of this notation in the 1850s, the property was owned by William and Cornelia McDonald.
From 1884 to 1890, Frank and Ellen Kabat operated the saloon in Grimms. Due to failing health, they sold the saloon and moved to Reedsville in 1891. Mr. Kabat died in 1894. Frank and Ellen Kabat sold the business, “including all saloon fixtures” to William Rahr, Max Rahr, and Reinhardt Rahr. In 1892, the Rahr family members joined together and became known as the William Rahr Sons Company, based in Manitowoc. It wasn’t uncommon for the Rahr family to buy saloons in the city of Manitowoc and throughout the county in order to sell their beer. The Rahr brothers, Reinhradt, Maximilian, and William, came together to continue the Rahr Malting Company, started by their father, William, in Manitowoc in 1847. The Rahr brothers decided to make their own malt, using locally grown grain, particularly barley. Just before the Civil War, William Rahr added a small malt house to his 1847 brewery and began to sell excess to neighboring breweries. It is likely that the Rahr family hired a manager to operate the saloon during their ownership.
The Rahr ownership of the saloon was short-lived and in 1894 the company sold the business to Michael Watt. Michael and his wife, Maggie, experienced a great tragedy regarding their 2 year old daughter, Margaret. The Grimms News section of The Manitowoc Pilot on May 2, 1901 reported:
BABY WATT: At dawn on April the 22nd the angel of death entered the home of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Watt to take from their loving grasp their little daughter Margaret in the bloom of her early childhood, and the pride and comfort of their home. The funeral of Mr. and Mrs. Watt’s child was well attended, nearly 100 carriages being in line. Considering the busy season one can see the high esteem in which they are held by the community.
Soon, Grimms had over 100 residents. Albert Svacina purchased the property on January 29, 1904 from Martin Mangin, who owned the property for one year. Mangin was a well-known resident of Grimms and for many years was the proprietor of a dance hall in the community.
Albert Svacina was born in Taus and married his wife, Barbara Krummel, in 1898. They operated the cheese factory and a saloon/hotel in Taus before relocating to Grimms in 1904. A. Svacina Hotel and Saloon was in business.
The bar and backbar in the establishment were manufactured by the Brunswick-Balke-Colender Company, based in Chicago, Illinois. Their crest can be seen on the front of the bar. Family legend says that it came by train from Chicago. It is believed to have been installed in 1906 when Albert Svacina remodeled and enlarged the previously existing hotel and tavern.
At the time the kilns were in full operation, the building had 20 hotel rooms to rent. Albert died in 1929 but the establishment remained in business through members of the Svacina family. In the 1930s, the tavern was known as Lime City Tavern, and had a famous fish fry every Friday night.
Albert and Barbara’s son, Raymond, and his wife, Regina, took ownership of the establishment in 1964 until Ray's death on January 23, 1972. Ray and Regina raised 6 kids here: Kenneth, Donald, Paul, Barbara, Jim, and Jack.
Raymond’s son, Jim, took over the operation in 1972 and in 1980, Jim and his wife, Mary, became owners of the tavern. The Red Lamp closed in 1992.