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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Kegel's Inn (Traci Schnell photo, 2009)

Kegel's Inn (Traci Schnell photo, 2009)

Kegel's Inn mural (Traci Schnell photo, 2009)

Kegel's Inn decorative window (Traci Schnell photo, 2009)

Kegel's Inn
5901-05 W. National Avenue, West Allis, Milwaukee County
Date of Construction: 1933, 1942
Architect: Mark F. Pfaller

Born in Austria in 1892, John T. Kegel immigrated to the United States in 1911. Four years later, he married Slovenian-born Anna Bevc and in 1918 they moved from Milwaukee to West Allis. After working variously as a trimmer and a milkman, a friend convinced John to open a soft drink parlor. In 1925, he and Anna established Kegel's Place in the east half of the one-story building they built at the corner of present-day S. 59th Street & National Avenue. Like many other area soft drink parlors during Prohibition, the Kegel family brewed bootleg beer (in the basement), while other liquor was smuggled in.

On February 20th, 1933, Congress passed the Twenty-First Amendment which repealed Prohibition. Less than two months later, the sale of beer was legalized and just weeks later, John Kegel took out a permit to remodel and enlarge his drinking establishment to include a restaurant. The resulting project produced the existing Olde English-style, Tudor Revival edifice that was designed by Milwaukee architect Mark F. Pfaller. The Lannon stone-sheathed structure prominently displays the following characteristics of the style: cast stone trim; false half-timber finish with patterned brickwork; and a slate roof.

Kegel's Inn, as it was renamed, opened on August 26th, 1933. In addition to food and drink, Kegelís also offered dancing and hosted dance bands weekly through 1952. Shortly after its opening, German-born artist/painter Peter Gries hand-painted murals on the interior walls. As the dining areas expanded to encompass much of the first floor, additional murals were painted. In addition to the spectacular (and often whimsical) murals, the interior also features remarkable leaded and stained-glass windows executed by the Milwaukee art glass firm of Wagner Bros., as well as notable woodwork by the Marks Bros. of West Allis.

Kegel's Inn is currently run by the third generation of the Kegel family and is open to the public during normal business hours.


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