History of the Water Street Pub & Inn

The two story cream brick Italianate building housing Water Street Place Pub & Eatery and Historic Inn has played a significant role on Shullsburg’s Historic Water Street. The Italianate gem was built in 1883 during the prosperous lead mining days by contractor Pete Richards of Elk Grove for J.M. Brewster, a prominent businessman, for commercial rental use.

The old bank vault at the Water Street Pub, Eatery and historic inn, near Galena Illinois in Shullsburg, WI.The old bank vault at the Water Street Pub, Eatery and historic inn, near Galena Illinois in Shullsburg, WI.The most notable tenant, The Fist National Bank, opened its doors in 1909. Notice the mementos on the wall such as the bank sign, calendar, and old pictures. A large mural depicts the lead mining era of the late 1800’s. A part of the building’s colorful past was the bank robbery in 1925 when the original vault doors were blown off with nitroglycerin by Chicago Blackie and his gang. During the Great Depression, the bank closed its doors for business never to reopen. Today, the vault houses the many Wisconsin beers and fine wines offered.

Over the years many businesses came and went, including attorneys, dentists, mining engineers, the post office, library, city offices, and numerous other small businesses. The building sat empty and in disrepair for over 20 years. In October 2001, Chuck and Jill Staab, began restoration of the building. The husband and wife team applied their combined skills learned from past endeavors, including restoration and decorating, inn-keeping and restaurant management to create a memorable experience for visitors and residents of Shullsburg and the surrounding area. Our building at Water Street Place is one of many on Water Street listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Water Street. Where's the water?

A creek did run on the south side of Water Street in the early years of the town and evidence of the creek can be seen in the basement below the Pub. The creek was contained with stone masonry retaining walls built in the early or mid 1800s, before any building was here. The south retaining wall was later used for part of the building’s foundation, which explains why the building settled so much on the southeast corner. A wooden door, which once led the way under the road to the Opera House, had to be removed when the foundation was repaired in 1999. The massive stone header on the other wall is still in place, showing where the creek flowed to, and under, the Brewster Café. Both retaining walls are still prominent in the basement. The creek is now dry but there are still a few minor springs that appear during wet times of year. The creek does make an appearance on the western side of county road O, north of Highway 11.

The Staircase:
From 1909 to 2002 there was no interior staircase. The newly constructed staircase was designed and built by Chuck Staab and is patterned from a century old design using walnut and oak spindles from the1800's.

More History:
During the restoration process, evidence was uncovered that clearly indicated the original purpose of the 2nd floor was for lodging. Such evidence includes dressed floorboards, the placement of the original staircase from 1883 to 1909, and the shadows indicating fine original floor trim where the staircase had been. The hall size and room configurations also indicate lodging as the main purpose.

Water Street Place Pub & Eatery opened for business in July 2002 and the Historic Inn upstairs opened in May 2003. The Pub & Eatery on the main floor features hearty regional fare as well as Wisconsin beers and a variety of wines while the bed & breakfast style inn rooms upstairs offer the comfort of quilts, central air and heat and private baths.

You are welcomed by the owners and staff of Water Street Place Pub & Eatery and Historic Inn.“We Want Water Street Place to be Your Place.”

Water Street Place Historic Inn | 202 W Water Street, Shullsburg, WI 53586
Lodging Reservations Call: (608) 482-3286 | Pub & Eatery Call: (608) 965-3228
Hours: WE-TH 11AM - 8PM, FR-SA 11AM - 10PM & SUN 11AM to 3PM
Check Availability Or Reserve Online! | www.WaterStreetPlace.com

Water Street Place Pub and Eatery and Bed and Breakfast in Shullsburg WI near Galena Illinois.
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