The United States flag now proudly flies on an ornamental flagpole in the landscaped front yard of American Legion Post 101 in Lowell.
Back in 1880, a proud builder constructed a fine frame building on that site, near Cedar Creek on the south side of Commercial Ave. The identity of the builder and the very first business owner are not known, but according to early records, the earliest business there was the Ceiga Hotel and Tavern. The hotel advertised about a dozen rooms on the second floor.
It was built at about the same time the railroad came through Lowell as a handy place for weary travelers to stop, a few steps from the depot.
In the Lake County Directory of 1909, the business was listed as "Pete's Place," a saloon and hotel operated by Peter Seramur. In 1913, another local ad was placed: "The Seramur Restaurant, Mrs. Peter Seramur, owner, Meals, short orders and Bakery Goods."
In about 1914, Peter went to Elkhart and drove a new Crow Elkhart automobile back to Lowell, probably amidst cries of "Get a Horse," as he proudly motored down Commercial Ave.
By 1916, the owner was Will J. Tanner, who advertised his billiard parlor, cigars, tobacco, candies and soft drinks. Also mentioned in the advertisement was Ed Wheeler, who operated a barbershop in the building. Wheeler was in business at another spot for five years before 1902, when he sold out to Nate Slusser and Thomas Cumford. He barbered in several places in downtown Lowell, including a shop near Clark St. on Commercial Ave.
The following quote is from a story written by Marian Hayden in 1975, as she told a story of a trip in downtown Lowell: "You hurried past the livery stable that stood over the creek. Where the tavern stood was "Berlini's." He was the original Good Humor man, for he came around in his wagon with its little piping whistle. You furnished your own dish for the ice cream -- how delicious it was! Later, they had a fire (at their home) and Mrs. Berlini was badly burned."
The John Hepp tavern occupied the building for many years and the hotel rooms above were rented by the month. John's parents were Joseph and Elizabeth Hepp. John was a charter member of Post 101.
The Kepshire tavern followed, and then in 1963 the building, then owned by Post 101, was sold to a Crown Point firm and was torn down.
The site was landscaped and the flagpole placed in the center. The pole, moved from a site closer to the Legion building, was originally dedicated to the memory of Edward M. Berg, World War I veteran. Berg, the son of a westside blacksmith, was a well-known Lowell businessman, and an early supporter of the American Legion Post. He died in 1940 after several years as an Indiana Conservation Officer.
Also in the early 1900's, a small business building was constructed between the tavern and Cedar Creek. It was near the sidewalk on an incline, with the rear supported on poles. It was used for several business ventures. A shoe shop was there for a time, and a room in the back was a barber shop.
Wilfred R. Weaver was a barber there in the early 1920's, before he became a well-known Lowell funeral director. The Old Timer remembers a set of drums sitting in the corner of the shop for "Bill," who played in a dance orchestra with Vessie Mahler at the piano, Dr. Page on saxophone, and Jerry Fehlman playing string instruments. Another barber there was John Gray, who later moved to Missouri, where he passed away.
The front room of that small building was occupied for many years by Herman Burnham, who was a real estate salesman and the Cedar Creek Township Trustee. Herman and his brother, Fred, were partners in the hardware business earlier in the century, and were sons of Zenas C. Burnham (1831-1928). Zenas saw many changes in southern Lake County after he came in 1853, with his brother, Kellogg M. Burnham.
Kellogg was a Captain of Co. A, 99th Ind. Vol. Inf. following in the footsteps of his grandfather Joseph B. Burnham, who was a Captain in the War of 1812. Kellogg married Eunice Wheelar, sister of Col. John Wheeler of Crown Point. It is assumed that the Burnham Post Grand Army of the Republic of Lowell was named after Capt. Kellogg Burnham.
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