By Sue Moore
“This plaque weighs a ton,” quipped Jared Tinklenberg, the Hide-A-Way’s bar’s general manager, as he held it up for inspection. The inscription honors the bar with its famous beer sign while owners Scott and Jackie Plankenhorn display it in front of the building at 111 East Prairie Street, Vicksburg.
The building has historical significance in the village, having housed several bars from 1945 through today with a few breaks in the 1970s when it was Bee’s Bargain Center and Ted Fess Jewelry. The Plankenhorns have owned it since 1980, with Jack bringing his son Scott into the business in 1985.
The Vicksburg Historical Society has been sprouting solid bronze plaques on village properties of historical significance for the last five years. The funding for these monuments has come from private donations and not from the coffers of the Society, according to Kristina Powers Aubry, chair of the plaque committee. Her group has spent many hours researching the history of each building it has honored with a plaque. This work has been inspired by Margaret Kerchief, Mike Hardy, Bonnie Holmes and Ted Vliek, who serve on Aubry’s committee.
The plaque first cites the L.S. Kimble Building that housed the Morse & Horsfal Hardware when it was built in 1872 at 111 E. Prairie. Lewis Kimble moved his frame building one block west and constructed the existing building in 1898. The original tenant is unknown. Beginning in 1905 and for the next three decades, its series of tenants included Persel & Styles, R.J. Haas and J.M. Smeltzer, who operated a hardware store on the site.
The first record of a bar in this location was Wilson’s Tavern (1945-50). That owner was likely the one that installed the historic “BEER” sign on the premises. Morrie’s Tavern followed (1950-52), followed in turn by Floyd West’s Vicksburg Tavern (1953-56), Glen Dee Tavern (1957-63) and Joe Demski Tavern (1963). In 1970 it was a tavern owned by John Stroud. Subsequent owners of the building were Gerald and Katheryn Holdridge who operated Holdridge’s Hideaway and Lora Lee O’Brien, who sold it to Jack Plankenhorn in 1980.
The committee’s research has been bolstered by Dr. Arle Schneider’s book A Tale of One Village, Water Over the Dam, published in 1972 and Mabel Hawkins history of the village, published in the 1950s. The criteria for plaques to be awarded includes the significance and the good condition of the building, Aubry said. Thus far, they have placed eight plaques with another 10 in the works. Those in place include the McElvain House, Smalley Building, “Old El”, Prudential Nursery, United Methodist Church, John Long’s Drug Store, Hill’s Grocery at 100 S. Main, and the Stofflet Block which is known today as Oswalt Park at the corner of Main and Prairie Streets.
“We do not charge the building owners for the plaque’s cost, between $600 to $1,500. They are solid bronze and vandal-resistant so they will last throughout the century,” Aubry said. “We do accept donations from the building owners but it is not a pre-requisite. The historic significance is much more important.”