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Duplainville Tavern

Old Rail Fence: The community known as Duplainville

By Penny Williams

Living Lake Country Reporter, Posted: Feb. 18, 2008

Each week in Living, the four authors of this column provide photos and articles featuring tidbits from the past to help Lake Country readers better understand and appreciate their roots.

Historian Pam Weinhammer focuses on Hartland, Penny Williams focuses on Pewaukee, Margaret E. Zerwekh focuses on Delafield, and Jeanne Ann Frederickson focuses on Merton.

Although it is now just a blip on a side road, there was once a bustling little community east of the Village of Pewaukee known as Duplainville. As with any small town in the early to mid-1900s, there were businesses to cater to the people living in the surrounding area, and this was no exception.

Foremost was the Duplainville tavern, which also housed a small grocery store and post office. The proprietor for many years was Matt Hurtgen, whose family lived on the second floor of the building. Neighboring farmers came to town, and while their wives picked up the mail and groceries, the men gathered in the tavern for liquid refreshments, a game of pool, cards, or to exchange the latest gossip and news of the area.

Directly across the street from the tavern and next to the Milwaukee Road railroad tracks was an unpainted wooden building, which was the dance hall. There was a stage on one end for the orchestra and toilets in the opposite corner. Near the front entrance was a "cloak room" and a few tables for the occasions when food was served. The side walls were lined with chairs for those whose entertainment was watching the dancers or for resting between dances. Because the building was heated with only a pot-bellied stove, I'm sure the seats closest to the stove were popular in the winter time. With no basement, the floor was cold and drafty, so dancers relied on body heat to keep them warm.

Mildred Wiedeman, an early Pewaukee historian, recalled playing violin with Andree's Old Time Orchestra at the dance all in the early 1930s. She earned $3 per night and played from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Not bad for a high school girl at that time. Other musicians, no longer with us, were Ervin Andree, banjo; Ray Schroeder of Sussex, drums; Cletus Nettlesheim, concertina; and Andy Schmitz, saxophone. They played circle-two-steps, polkas, square dance, waltzes and schottisches. The dance hall is gone now, replaced by a small factory, but the Duplainville tavern is still in existence, now known as the End Zone.

The main street going through town from Waukesha to Sussex was Highway 164 and as people from the "big city" migrated west, a need was felt for a wider road to handle increased traffic. The highway was rerouted to the west. When that happened, the old road was renamed Old Duplainville Road and the small town with its post office/grocery and tavern, dance hall and barbershop turned into fond memories, but I'll bet that if you approached one of the remaining "old timers" in Pewaukee they still would be able to come up with a good story or two about the fun they once had in Duplainville.

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