Superior’s downtown is theme for historic exhibit, memorable SundaysHistory Sunday 2013 begins with the presentation, “100 Years of Bear Shoe Works” on Jan. 13 by Michelle Baddin, daughter of long-time owner, Harry Bear. Bear Shoe has been a part of Superior’s Tower Avenue businesses for 100 years.
By: By Kathy Laakso, Superior Telegram
History Sunday 2013 begins with the presentation, “100 Years of Bear Shoe Works” on Jan. 13 by Michelle Baddin, daughter of long-time owner, Harry Bear. Bear Shoe has been a part of Superior’s Tower Avenue businesses for 100 years. History Sunday coordinator, Nancy Minahan says Bear Shoe was started by Russian immigrant Charles Bear in 1912. The first Bear Shoe Works store was removed to make way for the Androy Hotel, and in 1924 the business moved into the building on North Eight Street and Tower Avenue, where it has been since. Charles’ son Harry Bear, beloved and skilled shoe repairman for the community, spent a lifetime in the business, retiring in 1999. Since 1999, the business has been continued and expanded by Klaus Nieder.
When Michelle was asked about the bear cub in the window that had been a symbol of the business for many decades, she said she remembers the call on a Sunday evening from the DNR. The caller told her dad — who was looking for a replacement for an earlier bear cub in the window —that a cub had just been hit by a car, and he should come get it. Now the window sports three bears, continuing the Bear tradition. Even though customers now tend to replace worn shoes rather than repairing them, and the business has expanded shoe sales in addition to leather repair, Bear Shoe Works continues as part of the community.
The presentation “100 Years of Bear Shoe Works” begins at 2 p.m. Jan. 13, at the DCHS building, 1101 John Ave. The program is followed by refreshments. Admission is $3, free for Douglas County Historical Society members.
February’s History Sunday attendees will revisit the days of gift giving with full service when Pauline Kukull, recalls her 20 years employment with Edelstein’s Gift Shop, which was located on Tower Avenue.
History Sundays in 2013 resumes the theme of Tower Avenue as DCHS’ downtown exhibit is expanded with the help of a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. To help DCHS with that project we are asking the community for full-length photos of iconic downtown business people, such as Henry Cohen and Harvey Buchanan. If you have photos or know someone else who does, please contact us.
Superior is fortunate to have a variety of museums. One of them, the Harrington Arts Center and Accordion Museum is proud to receive Dr. Willard Palmer’s musical estate, made available by his son, Willard Palmer III. Anyone who has ever taken piano, guitar or accordion lessons most likely used the Palmer-Hughes method book. Palmer was a world-renowned musician, scholar and music educator whose revolutionary teaching has had worldwide impact. On Jan. 31, the Harrington museum will open the Willard Palmer Legacy Display with commemorative concerts and speakers. The programs begin at 10 a.m. at the Harrington Arts Center at the corner of Belknap Street and Hammond Avenue.
We’re pleased that everyone can attend our events because our building now has an elevator. We want to begin the new year by thanking our community for being so generous last year: the city of Superior for its CDBG funding; LaPorte General Contracting, Access Lifts and Tower Plumbing for the fine work they did to install it; and the businesses that donated materials: Campbell’s Building Materials, AA Roll-Off and Sherwin Williams. While we’re at it, we’d like to thank our History Theatre sponsors, NBC, Kari Toyota, Stack Brothers Mechanical Contractors, SWL&P, Como Oil (who bought Fagerlin Fuel), Larson Chevrolet, Mediqwest and Superior Choice Credit Union. And of course, our members and friends who have generously donated toward all these endeavors. We promise to repay that generosity with great history-related service and programs.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with our event and program activities is welcome to join our committees, such as Events, History Theatre and Exhibit committees. Involvement can be in the areas of planning, executing or hosting, or all of these areas. Stop in or call if you’re interested.
The Douglas County Historical Society is located at 1101 John Ave. Contact us by email at email@example.com or call 715-392-8449.
Kathy Laakso is the director of the Douglas County Historical Society.