Earliest city directory listing found:
NOTE: #709 is now #3561
Footprint of 3557 E. Squire Avenue on the 1937 Sanborn fire insurance map (updated periodically to the 1950s).
The color (yellow with pink outline) indicates a wood-framed structure with brick veneer.
George Lengyel's history before 1925
At the Milwaukee County Historical Society, I found George Lengyel's Declaration of Intention (1917) and Petition for Naturalization (1919). According to his papers, he was born in Nagylak, Hungary, on 23 May 1891. He sailed to the U.S. from Fiume, Hungary, arriving in New York aboard the Pannonia on 2 April 1906. In 1919 he was working as a die sinker and was not yet married. He became a U.S. citizen on 24 May 1921.
From the Ellis Island records on-line, I learned that George (Gyorgy, age 11) arrived in the US with his parents Karoly (65) and Karolyne (55) [wife listed under husband's name with -ne suffix according to Hungarian practice] and older brother Sandor (15).
In the 1910 Census, the Lengyel family at 511 Armour avenue in Cudahy consisted of Karol (69), Kataryna (56), Alexander (19), and George (17). Karol and Kataryna had been married 46 years, and of the 12 children born, only 6 were still living. Neither had an occupation listed, but the two boys worked as laborers, Alex in a packing house and George in a foundry.
In the 1920 census, George Lengyel (28) lived in the household of his brother-in-law and sister, John and Mary Koska at 508 Barnard. Unfortunately his occupation is illegible.
On 13 March 1922, George Lengyel married Mary Torma before a justice of the peace in Milwaukee. He listed his occupation as "Saloon business." His parents were Carl Lengyel and Kathleen Redick. Mary was the daughter of Michael Novak and Julia Horvath, and had previously been married to Stephen Torma but divorced him in 1921.
When I started this project, the owner only knew that before he bought the building in 1991 it had been Tret's Pub and Sam's. He had purchased the property from Sam Tomick's son, Mike, after Sam died. He thought the building was built in the late 1920s. Currently it houses the bar "KCD's" and two apartments.
Like most land in Cudahy, the property was owned at one point by the Cudahy family. Records at the Milwaukee County Courthouse show the following chain of title in the early 1900s:
Searching through Cudahy and Milwaukee city directories from 1921 to 1999 produced a list of names of people who had lived at 3557 (formerly 711) E. Squire Ave. The Lengyels appeared to have been the first property owner to actually reside there. A listing for this address did not even appear until 1927. (Note that city directories can be a year or so behind in their information.)
I've narrowed the date of construction of the building to mid- to late-1925. According to Mary Lengyel's obituary (Cudahy Reminder Enterprise, 9 Sept. 1977):
With this information I began searching through the Cudahy newspaper, which in true booster spirit described all the new construction in town. On 3 October 1924, the Cudahy Enterprise reported,
The Enterprise listed Lengyel's new structure under "some of the most important" issued a building permit in the first half of 1925, describing it as a "store and three family flat" (3 July 1925). Although the Enterprise reported that
Lengyel had already advertised for tenants in the month before, with the description "New five room flat. Ready for occupancy" (18 Sept 1925).
The cost of construction was estimated at $20,000, which today would be nearly $197,000. (I used the Consumer Price Index calculator.)
In the late 1920s, George Lengyel's business was listed first as "billiards" and then "soft drinks." In the 1930 census, George was listed as the proprietor of a soft drink parlor. There were three households at 711 Squire. The Lengyel family consisted of George (38) and Mary (34), Mary's daughters from her first marriage Ethel (17) and Margaret (15), and the couple's daughter Mathilda (7). (Ethel and Margaret were listed with the surname Lengyel and legally changed their name from Torma to Lengyel in 1934.) The other families renting rooms were Walter and Adeline Siegel, with their son Vernon and Adeline's sister Aurelia Schilling, and John and Mae Zelinsky, with their daughter Patricia and John's brother Thomas.
After Prohibition ended in 1933, the Lengyels' place was listed as a tavern, and the building has continued as such to the present day. I wondered if more than soft drinks were being served there in the 1920s, a suspicion confirmed by the Lengyels' grandson. I had contacted the Cudahy Historical Society to see what information they might have on Lengyel's Tavern, and one of their members put me in touch with some surviving relatives. Kenneth Stack, son of the Lengyels' daughter, Mata, remembers hearing about his grandfather having soft drinks in front but serving stronger beverages in a room in the back during Prohibition. According to family stories, the Lengyels were on good terms with Cudahy's chief of police, John Medrow, so they would get a warning phone call before the federal agents raided.
The deed records show that the Lengyels, like many Americans during the Depression, nearly lost their home. In 1937, the Milwaukee County Sheriff auctioned the property when the Lengyels were unable to make their mortgage payments. In 1944, they bought the property back from the Consolidated Savings and Loan Association, and it stayed in the Lengyel family until their daughter Ethel Voigt, representing Mary Lengyel's estate, sold it to Sam Tomick in 1977.
George Lengyel died in 1957, and the Cudahy Reminder-Enterprise described him as a "veteran bar keeper" who had retired several years before. He was also a member of the Tigers Sports Club and was sruvied by his wife Mary and three daughters, Mrs. Ethel Voigt, Mrs Margaret Steward. and Mrs. Matilda Sulik, as well as a brother Alex in Montello, Wis. and a sister Mrs. Julia Yancsar in Hungary. Mary Lengyel died in 1977, and part of her obituary is quoted above. She was survived by her three daughters, a sister Helen Dziadowicz and three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. George and Mary Lengyel were buried at Holy Sepulcher in Cudahy.
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