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Business has flourished in this location since 1927 when Frank Laundrie, a former Vilas County Sheriff, built a filling station and refreshment stand at the busy intersection of what was then U.S. Highway 51 and County Trunk W. it was called the Tower Inn as it stood in the shadow of a 55-foot fire tower owned and operated by the Wisconsin Conservation Commission.

In May 1928, the first local post office was located within Tower Inn. The property changed hands several times with new owners always expanding and improving service offerings to keep up with growing tourism demands. The Zermuehlens, Garbers and Jastrops were each subsequent owners of The Tower Tea Room, Tower Bar and Resort, and The Tower. Later businesses existed with the names of The Fireplace Inn and Angler's Fine Food and Spirits. 

Today, that intersection is now County W and Tower Road, and Anglers is still an anchor of downtown Manitowish Waters commerce. Sadly, the fire tower no longer exists.  

Sky, Building, Cloud, Wheel

Sky, Cloud, Plant, Building

Sky, Cloud, Tree, Motor vehicle

Building, Plant, Sky, Tree

Automotive parking light, Car, Wheel, Land vehicle

Photograph, Sky, Building, Land lot

Photograph, Poster, Font, Rectangle

Bazso's Tower Inn

Furniture, Table, Interior design, Art

Fireplace Inn

Product, Font, Motor vehicle, Advertising

Winchester residents Frank and Lucie Laundrie purchased the property at the corner of Highway 51 and County W and in 1927 opened a filling station and refreshment stand known as Tower Inn. The 26' X 30' building was made of cedar logs on the round, peeled and varnished, and furnished accordingly.  In May 1928, Lucie was appointed to manage a new post office known as Rest Lake that opened in the Tower Inn, with mail delivered by a special carrier from the Manitowish Post Office. 

In 1926, Frank had been appointed as Vilas County Sheriff when then Sheriff Bowker resigned. In 1928, Frank decided to run as an independent Republican candidate for Vilas County Sheriff and sold the business in October of that year to Arthur and Josephine Zermuehlen from Two Rivers.

The Zermeuhlens changed the name to The Tower Tea Room, moved the existing 26' X 30' log structure to a new location on the property, and built a large two-story frame structure to house a general store and lunchroom. A $2000 soda fountain was featured in the lunchroom and a lighted tower was constructed on the roof of the building. The new business opened in 1929.

Oscar Hantke from Hurley, who managed the soft drink parlor, was the victim of a shooting in August 1930. At 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday evening as he was closing, two men approached and shot him three times, then drove away. Severely wounded with bullet holes in his left hand, right arm and right side of his chest, he walked three and one-half miles to the Matt Plunkett farm and was ultimately driven to a hospital in Ironwood, Michigan. No motive for the attack was known and Hanke recovered from his wounds.

Between 1930 and 1944, The Tower Tea Room was owned by the Zermuehlens but for several years was operated as George Bazso’s Tower Cocktail Bar and Dining Room.  

William Garber became the new owner of The Tower Bar and Resort in July 1944. For many years, the Garbers opened their resort seasonally, offering rental rooms, meals, Standard Oil gas pumps, and a tourist information center. The Tower was the venue for many civic club meetings, wedding receptions, fund raising events, church social events, and private parties.

Pat and Ken Jastrop owned The Tower Bar during the 1970s and 1980s, often hosting the men’s and women’s pool leagues. Subsequently, in 1988, The Fireplace Inn remodeled the building and offered a supper club environment for many years. The Fireplace was run by Nick Grevan, who ran the front of the supper club, and his wife Honey, who provided amazing food from the kitchen. Patrons paid extra to have their names placed in the bar counter under layers of spar varnish. The property transitioned between owners for a few years under the names of Changing Waves and the historic name, The Tower Bar. Today, Angler's Fine Food and Spirits offers year-round fine dining and a cocktail bar. A separate outdoor bar and grill is available during the summer. The original log building still exists, the main building has been enhanced once again, the roof top tower is gone, and the tradition of hospitality is alive and well.  

Iron County Miner September 30, 1927

Iron County Miner May 04, 1928

Iron County News October 13, 1928

Iron County Miner October 30, 1928

Iron County Miner August 1, 1930

Rhinelander Daily Globe July 29, 1930

Ironwood Daily Globe July 05, 1935

Iron County News February 2, 1940

Ironwood Daily Globe July 6, 1944

Miller, Jo Ann. Manitowish Waters Historical Society. 6-19-22.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

MWHS archives