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If These Walls Could Talk: Eureka Family Dental Clinic.

Grenz, Anderson, and Straub. "If These Walls Could Talk: Eureka Family Dental Clinic." Northwest Blade.


The land where the current dental clinic is located was platted and dedicated on Sept 24, 1887, and sold by the Milwaukee Land Company to E.L.

Hopkins on Dec. 12, 1888. Four years later, in 1892, it was sold to John Reagan and F.H. Hooper, two prominent early Eureka businessmen. They owned the land from the corner of Market and Main and west to the alley, believed to have been empty until 1891, when the Knickerbocker Hotel was built on the corner.

John Reagan was involved with the Knickerbockers both personally and in business. He and F.H. Hooper opened a general merchandise store on north Market Street in 1887. Later, the men started the Reagan & Hooper Exchange Bank, north of the Knickerbocker Hotel on Market Street, where loans and mortgages were given to businessmen. In 1888, John Reagan married and became a widower. Shortly after being widowed, Reagan married Gertrude Knickerbocker, the young daughter of hoteliers George and Sarah Knickerbocker.

Reagan and Hooper sold their land (including the dental clinic lot) to Reagan's mother-in-law, Sarah Knickerbocker. Several real estate mortgages were extended to the Knickerbockers by the firm of Reagan and Hooper.

Though the 1900 and 1911 Eureka plat maps show the Knickerbocker Hotel on the northwest corner of the intersection of Main and Market, with no business west of it; a photo dated 1908 clearly shows two buildings there.

When those buildings were erected is not known as there is nothing in public records until 1915.

George Knickerbocker exchanged his role of hotelier for postmaster in 1913, and the Knickerbockers decided to sell their hotel. In 1914, they sold lots 4B, 5B, and 6B (from the corner of Market and Main Streets and west to the alley) and the buildings on them to banker Christian Vorlander who, that same year, sold them to Fred Wenger, who continued the business as the Eureka Hotel.

The first structure listed in public records on the land now occupied by the dental clinic was a Joseph Bell building. Joseph Bender leased the Bell building and opened a general merchandise store in 1915, then purchasing it in December 1917 from Fred Wenger. A photo, from about 1918, shows Bender's store with an awning labeled "Joseph Bender Farmers Cash Store." An ad proclaimed Joe Bender, general merchant, as a seller of Maytag appliances, and a specialist in real estate as "a seller of homes and farms." (1937 Eureka Jubilee Book) Joseph Bender, born in Russia in 1886, arrived in the United States in 1906.

Wanting to avoid metropolitan areas, he went to Ashley, ND to farm. Finding farming the harsh rocky land an impossible task, the Benders sold their farm, moved to Eureka in 1915, and used the land sale capital to purchase inventory to run a general merchandise store, according to his daughter, Bernice Bender Ellison.

Upon entering the Bender Store, children were captivated by the candy display along the west wall, their mothers turned to the right where the piece goods were located, and the fathers of the families walked a bit farther and scaled several steps along the west side allowing them to sit higher than the main floor. From this perch, Joseph or Mary Bender would be able to help the gentlemen pick out a pair of new shoes. Towards the back of the store, a dress display was visible. Along with clothes, shoes and fabric, non-perishable groceries were sold.

Bender bought farm eggs and wool. The wool was tossed onto a dirt floor in the basement where it remained, emanating a horrible smell, until sold. The job of candling eggs (holding each egg to a light to see if it was fertilized or worse--rotten) belonged to Joe's son David. One day David had the novel idea of writing his name and address on an egg. Imagine his surprise when a letter addressed to him arrived, from the ultimate purchaser of the egg. Unfortunately a continuing correspondence did not take place.

Joseph had a kind heart. A local boy told Joe's son, David, that when his family had only old clothing to wear, a bundle of clothes would appear at their house free of charge.

Before moving to Minneapolis in 1949, Bender sold the building to William Lapp, a local farmer. William Lapp's sons, Herbert and Albert, operated a clothing store featuring men's, ladies, children's clothing, and footwear from 1949-1956. A 1953 Northwest Blade ad lists Lapps' Clothing selling Confirmation and Graduation suits made of 100% wool gabardine or sharkskin, very inexpensively. Some suits had two pairs of trousers.

The Lapp Brothers expanded in 1952, moving the ladies apparel to the current Senior Citizen's building. In 1956, the Lapps rented the former Red Owl store directly east of their store and moved the men's wear there, leaving their original building empty. (They operated out of two buildings until 1957, when the ladies apparel was merged into the men's clothing store.) Now empty, the building which is the subject of this article was renovated in 1956, with a brick exterior being added. The main floor was leased for ten years to the United States Government for use as a Post Office. The lease ran from January 1, 1957 to December 31, 1966, although the Post Office remained there until April 1975. John Obenauer was postmaster.

Arnold Lapp, a licensed State Farm Insurance agent, moved into basement rooms in 1957. Lavern Kary joined Lapp in 1958 and Duane Wanner in 1963.

The agency moved elsewhere in 1964. Ed Schumacher, an IDS agent, also occupied basement office space.

A dentist, Dr. Marvin Hoffman, purchased the building in August 1975. After remodeling, the upstairs became a dental clinic featuring Drs. Marvin Hoffman and Dwight Tschetter. Dr. Hoffman relocated in Minot, ND a year later, while Dr. Tschetter continued his practice in the building. Dr.
James Anderson, recruited by Dr. Tschetter, opened his dentistry practice there in 1979.

Attorney John Smith moved his law practice into the basement after the renovation in 1956, practicing from there until his death in December 1978.

Smith's practice was purchased by attorney Peter Ostrowski, who had moved to Eureka with his wife, Dr. Susan McIntosh Ostrowski. He bought the Smith law practice in 1979 and moved into the basement office. Dr. Anderson and Peter Ostrowski rented the building from Hoffman until purchasing it in 1981.

Ostrowski closed his law practice in 1991, saying that in the years after, he enjoyed "using the basement as a personal retreat where he would take his dogs, smoke a pipe, write letters or read the Wall Street Journal." In 2001, he sold his interest in the building to Dr. Anderson, who continued his dentistry practice there until 2010.

After Anderson's retirement, Eureka Family Dental Care opened in July 2010 with dentists Dr. Mark Bain and Dr. John Carrels of Aberdeen seeing patients every Wednesday.

Although this building has been a dental office for 37 years, it spent the first 70 or more years as a store. The next time you have your teeth cleaned, think about the candy display that used to be along the west wall!

Believed to be taken during Fourth of July celebration in 1918, this photo shows the north side of Main Street.  L-R: Isaak Variety Store, Golden Rule Meat Market, Becker Harness Shop, Harr Barber Shop, Straubs, Joseph Bender Farmers Cash Store, and Charlie Silver cream station.  Note street lights in middle of street.  From Patricia Harr Buzzell.
Eureka Family Dental in 2011.
Eureka Dental building. Dr. James Anderson, DDS; Attorneys John W. Smith and Peter J. Ostrowski. From ECDC files.
Elial W. “Shorty” Hinsdale Pool Hall and Charlie Silver Cream Station, probably in the early 1900s. From 1937 book.
Eureka Dental, Dr. James E. Anderson, DDS, in 1999. From ECDC files.

Story courtesy of the Northwest Blade, Eureka, SD.
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