Along Main Street: 211 E. Main Street

The Lowell Area Historical Museum is taking us on a stroll along Main Street and sharing the history of buildings in Lowell’s historic downtown. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.


Address: 211 E. Main
Date Built: 1881; repaired 1905
Builder: George Behler; repaired by M. Bishop and the Grand Rapids Brewing Co
Business in 1905: Silver Foam Saloon

George Behler built a building here in the 1870s. It housed C. Broad, Boots and Shoes (1873) before Donovan and Swayze’s Saloon. The fire of 1905 gutted it and the roof tumbled in. All that remained standing were the walls. The building was repaired by the Grand Rapids Brewing Co. who owned the lot. Thomas Donovan reopened the Silver Foam Saloon, which he had operated since 1893 and continued until 1913.

Above is Thomas Donovan. His family lived in a 2nd floor apartment of the building at the time of the fire. They escaped with short notice. Donovan was the owner of the Silver Foam Saloon downstairs, 1893-1913. His wife was the former Margaret Murphy who immigrated from Ireland as a child. This is a Board of Trade photo, 1908.

The next owner was Frank Gould who operated The United Cigar Store, Jack Mannings Barber Chair, a lunch counter and had pool tables on the premises.  Above is an interior of the United Cigar Store, then Pete’s Place, 1926 to 1980. It advertised beer and lunch. Sandwiches were their specialty. They also served Coca Cola and sold Copenhagen cigars. Photo was taken on Pete’s First Day in 1926.

Pete Kerr in 1968

On January 1, 1926, the 23 –year-old George “Pete” Kerr opened “Pete’s Place.” He sold near beer during prohibition days. It was a place for the “boys” to discuss issues of the day while playing pool or cards. The lunch counter was replaced with a grill for sandwiches and hamburgers. His genuine Homemade soup and the size of the burgers and sandwiches never changed. For years he sponsored Bowling Teams, keeping the trophies on the back bar. The business name was changed to Pete’s Tavern. Pete was here for over 50 years.

Sneakers in 1996

In 1981, Gary Laux purchased the building, renovated it and changed the name to The Hollow. It became Sneaker’s in 1987 when Shelley Catlin purchased it from Brett McManus. It has continued as Sneaker’s for 35 years.

Here’s what 211 E. Main Street looked like between 1906 and 1912 before Main Street was bricked. The signs in front of 211 E. Main read “Lunch Room” and “Silver Foam Saloon.”

And here’s what it looks like now:

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