DANK Haus Opens Exhibit on “Nord Seite”

Eateries: Seeks Historic World’s Fair Mural
By Patrick Butler

If you remember when this photo of Ronald Regan was taken outside Meyer’s Deli on the 4700 block of North Lincoln, please contact Monica Jirak or Monica Felix at the DANK Haus, (773) 561-9181.

President Ronald Reagan makes his way through the crowds outside Meyer’s Deli.  It’s a mystery what he was doing here, or when.  

They’d like any information on the picture of our 40th president checking out the neighborhood for the permanent “Brewers, Bakers and Bratwurst” exhibit that opened recently at the DANK (German-American National Congress).

The display honors the more than 40 German-inspired restaurants, beer halls, butcher shops and delis that once ran from Lincoln Square to Lincoln Park which eventually got Lincoln Avenue nicknamed “Sauerkraut Boulevard.”

Among the mementoes honoring the more than century-long German presence on the “Nord Seite” are musical instruments from Gunther and Harry Kempf’s Brauhaus, menus from long-gone eateries, a scale model of a 19th century beer wagon drawn by giant Clydesdale horses, and a stammitch meeting table reserved for restaurant “regulars”, a still a tradition in some German restaurants even today.

A typical Stammitch table where regulars used to gather at places like the Brauhause. (Photo by Patrick Butler)

The “Brewers, Bakers and Bratwurst” exhibit comes at the heels of the DANK Haus’ announcement that it plans to acquire the 18-foot high “Glory of Germany” mural first exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition here in Chicago.

At fair’s end, the piece was donated to the North Side’s Germania Club, where it remained for 95 years before going into storage in 23 boxes at the Altenheim retirement home for safekeeping when the Germania disbanded.

Officially kicking off DANK Haus’ “Glory of Germany” acquisition campaign on Aug. 24 will be a program featuring various local historians. Nothing long, just enough to stir up interest, Jirak and Felix promised.

While other organizations may also be vying for the mural, “we’ve already got a museum. We just need to find the right place to put it. And we’re close,” Jirak said.

Asked about an earlier proposal to put the mural in the Western Avenue Blue Line CTA station, Felix said “that would be something we’re against because we don’t want it exposed to the elements.”

“We could even develop a museum around it (the mural) with artifacts from the Columbian Exposition with wooden frieses depicting figures from Wagner’s operas, Felix said.
And restoration won’t be all that hard when the time comes, Jirak said, noting that only 11 tiles were damaged and just a few pieces have gone missing over the past century.

“The Glory of Germany” is especially appropriate for ANK Haus because it’s a tribute to great Germans – both real and legendary – from Gutenberg and Luther to the Rhinemaidens and mythical dwarfs said to guard the treasures believed hidden under the Rhine.

“We’re dedicated to getting this,” Jirak smiled.

Hours: 1 – 5 PM, Monday through Friday; or, by appointment. 
Admission: suggested $5 donation.  
DANK Haus is located at 4740 N. Western Ave.

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