211 E. Main
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interior of the United Cigar Store, then Pete’s Place, 1926 to 1980, 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.
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 signs in front of 211 E. Main read “Lunch Room” and “Silver Foam Saloon”. Photo was taken between 1906 and 1912 before Main Street was bricked.
Sneakers -photo, 1996