The Story of the Club Tavern
This building was built between 1860 and 1880, as a boarding house. The original piece of land, which was quite large, was purchased from the Winnebago Indians some years earlier. The original use was a rooming house and stables for the Stamm House Stage Line. Ye Olde Tavern opened in the 1880s, becoming the Club Tavern in 1921.
The tavern never closed for Prohibition. In the early 1900s, a gentleman by the name of Dick Hover purchased the tavern and initiated the tradition of fine food at the Club. His chicken was renowned all over Dane County.
The Tavern has seen many updates and renovations over the years, the most interesting of which had to be the placement of a trolley car at the front of the building and using that as the dining room.
As stated earlier, the tavern never closed during Prohibition, remaining open throughout that entire era. The tavern even went as far as to advertise in the Sunday Madison newspapers, to take a carriage ride to Middleton for Sunday chicken with a bucket. Now, this wasn’t a bucket of Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried, this was a bucket of beer, the predecessor of the pitcher.
The Club Tavern has always been an integral part of the Middleton social and entertainment scene. The University Corners, Branch Street Triangle has been the very center of Middleton’s nightlife. Starting in the 1830s and on into the present, a myriad of establishments and events called this locale home, with one remaining present throughout most of this period, the Club Tavern.
A peak in the Club’s history was the publicity surrounding the research and publication of E.E. LeMaster’s textbook The Blue Collar Aristocrats, a textbook describing people’s social interactions in a public setting that they considered to be their own living room.
On March Seventh, 1981, I purchased the Club Tavern and building and have been endeavoring to restore it to its glory ever since. We brought a strong emphasis on food and fun. We worked hard to make it a safe place where anyone of any age could come and enjoy themselves.
The ongoing finalization for the Club was the addition that was begun in April of 1993. Since then we have tripled the size of the bar while continuing the first rate service, that started by tradition over one hundred years ago. The Club is just one of those places where you can only be a stranger once. With live bands every Saturday, and high quality food every day, it’s the only real place in Middleton you can come for lasting good time…and the only place where I will greet you at the door.
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