History/Tour 100 Years in the Making
During its hundred-year history, The Centennial has served as a tavern and town hall, home and a house of ill repute. To this colorful past, we add our own tradition of a truly “historic experience.”
Our humble beginnings-The building that is today the Centennial was erected in 1895. It served as a home for Matthew and Lena Sherer.
“Back in the early 1900s, you wouldn’t
believe what was on the menu.”
In the early years of the twentieth century, the Centennial was already satisfying appetites, it’s just that the patrons didn’t always hunger for food. Back then this was the place to enjoy – among other sordid retreats – the pleasure of a woman’s intimate company.
This local bordello enjoyed a loyal following throughout prohibition, until about 1925.
Today, you can rest assured that- while red wine, red sauces and red snapper are featured on the menu-we have no intention of bringing back the red light.
During Prohibition, this building was-quite unofficially, of course- the northshore’s major supplier of hooch, firewater, demon rum and whatever other names this liquid cause of moral decay happened to be called.
The bootlegger’s business was conducted strictly under the cover of darkness in the back room, with one eye on the transaction and the other on the escape route.
But times do change. Today the Centennial offers more than 75 different labels of liquor, 58 different labels of beer and wine. And all above board.
In the 1940s this building served as a community center, town hall, and wedding reception hall. Of note- In 1945, Charles Boder purchased the building and sold it to John and Ida Ernst just 10 minutes later.
“Did you know we used to be a drive-in?”
Drive-in. Not in the usual sense of the word. But when Ronald Paetow bought the property and opened the “Old Car Bar” in 1968, our back room was filled with no less than a dozen prize autos valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Ronald’s prize collection narrowly escaped destruction in the ‘70s, when, according to legend, a bird living under the eves of the building brought a smoldering cigarette butt back to its nest. Ronald’s autos were driven to safety before the ensuing fire could reach them.
Today, the cars are gone. But Ronald did leave a few reminders that you can still see today, such as our antique bar, brought from Milwaukee’s Bohemian Hall on 13th and Cherry. And two custom-made leaded windows, one featuring the front grille of a Packard and the other a Pierce Arrow.
We are not done yet. After the Old Car Bar closed this building reopened in the ‘70s as the Good Omen Bar, then the ever familiar Donges Bay Inn known by its patrons as the DBI.
In 1988 Brian Ruelle and Kelley Starr opened the Centennial Bar and Grille as it is known and loved today. Brian and his dedicated staff continue to make improvements to the building and your dining experience.
Today the Centennial serves lunch and dinner everyday and brunch on Sundays. We have seating for 85 in two spacious dining areas. We have a game room for the kid in all of us. The Centennial is smoke-free till 9pm and our east dining room is always smoke-free.
You are never far from home at the Centennial