547-551 N. Milwaukee Avenue - Libertyville Bakery, Muller Building
Frederick Louis Jochheim, a German immigrant who moved to Libertyville from Chicago and opened a bakery in 1903, built the structure at 547-551 N. Milwaukee Avenue in 1907 to house his growing business. Using tested and true recipes for authentic stollen, bread, cakes and pastries, Frederick or Fred as he became known, opened Libertyville Bakery and operated it primarily with his wife and children. It remained a family run business that thrived for many years and supported three generations of Jochheim members. After World War II when many businesses were recovering and prospering, the bakery faced stiff competition from chain grocers and closed in 1951. Since that time, a variety of small businesses and financial institutions have occupied the commercial space. In the 1950s the building underwent extensive alterations when the original two storefronts were combined into one. Eric Muller of Muller Trading purchased and renovated the building in 2003. It was rehabilitated with many elements that appear historic, but are new. A large two story rear addition was constructed with a second entrance. The upper level was converted to modern, open air office space. A building plaque facing Milwaukee Avenue now reads, “Muller 2008.” The last storefront tenant was Chili U, a restaurant featuring gourmet chili and modern comfort foods.
Backstory and Context
According to the memoir “Libertyville Bakery,” written by Ethel Jochheim Getchell, Frederick Jochheim was born in Westfalia, Germany, in 1866 and he immigrated here in 1882. Eventually he made his way to Chicago where he found employment with Nabisco. In the ensuing years Fred fell in love with and married Rosa Dirig, a newcomer from Alsace-Lorraine. They quickly grew their family with five living children in five years: Charles, Clara, Bertha/Bettye, Minnie and Fred Junior. Thanksgiving, 1900, marked the day the Jochheims moved to Libertyville. By 1903 Fred was able to operate Libertyville Bakery in rented space on the east side of Milwaukee Avenue. He soon had the funds to purchase his own property across the street.
The property Fred purchased in 1907 was a wooden structure that was moved to the rear of the lot. At the front, a new brick structure was erected with two storefronts, two apartments, a large garage and a working basement. The older rear structure became living quarters and was connected to the new front. A side stairway led to the flat roof of the garage and a second story doorway that led to the back rooms. Fred and his family lived in the apartments for years, along with a string of bakery workers who were put up in extra rooms.
The basement contained a coal-fired, built-in revolving oven that was the mainstay of the bakery. Deep flat shelves rotated in Ferris wheel-like arcs baking bread evenly and allowing easy removal of loaves with long wooden paddles. Another regulated oven was installed at the other end of the basement for precise baking of cakes and pastries. Workspace took up the center of the room with massive mixers, bowls, beaters, bins for rising dough and a table for pounding, weighing and shaping dough. Baking supplies were stored here as well and a cooler held perishables.
The bakery thrived through the 1920s. Within the bakeshop was a restaurant run by Rosa featuring homemade ice cream. To make ice cream, blocks of ice were cut from Butler Lake and insulated in hay for year round use, according to Ethel Jochheim Getchell’s memoir. Ice cream made on the premises, along with baked goods, were popular throughout the area. However, by the end of the decade the Great Depression brought economic hardship. In the 1930s Frank Huber, Fred’s son-in-law and Bettye’s husband, opened a Royal Blue food shop in the bakery. Fred’s oldest son Charlie baked in the basement and Frank sold the baked good in his grocery, later called Huber’s Food Shop. When Fred died in 1937, followed by Rosa in 1939, both Charlie and Frank kept their businesses going. In a memoir, “Growing Up in Libertyville in the Thirties and Forties” by Don and Murrell Boyd, the Boyds recalled stopping at Huber’s on Sunday mornings to buy a dozen sweet rolls at two cents apiece. After World War II, the introduction of chain groceries such as A & P and Jewel sounded a competitive death knell for Libertyville Bakery and small food shops. The Hubers moved to Florida, the ovens cooled and the Jochheim dynasty ended in 1951.
Carsten and Elsie Reinbach brought a bakery back to the building in 1955, of course naming it Reinbach’s Bakery and Delicatessen. A small slice of their storefront became Tony’s (Abbadessa) Shoe Shop. Later a run of service businesses such as Hanson Water Conditioning, Employers Claim Service and Heritage Signs occupied the building. The extensive renovations and large rear addition begun in 2003 provided a new location for the offices of Muller Trading, a produce distribution firm headed by Eric Muller. In the storefront space, extensive remodeling was done in 2012 for the debut of Chili U, giving the restaurant a more trendy vibe. Chili U is currently closed and a new tenant for the building with a sweet history is yet to be announced.
545-607 North Milwaukee Avenue (photograph), circa 1974-1976. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/search/searchterm/545-607
Basement of Jochheim Bakery (photograph), 1920. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/6949/rec/3
“Chili U is Answer to Spice for Life,” Libertyville Review, July 26, 2012, p.7
“Growing Up in Libertyville in the Thirties and Forties” by Murrell and Don Boyd. Cook Memorial Public Library, http://vitacollections.ca/cmpldnewsindex/300/exhibit/3
Historic Libertyville, MilwaukeeAveN547-551, 2016. Village of Libertyville, http://www.historiclibertyville.com/index.php?project=yes&showonlyp=yes&c=3&p=1540, Historic Preservation Commission
In the Basement of the Bakery (photograph), 1920. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/6956/rec/2
Jochheim, Charles (Died) Independent Register, December 8, 1960, p.2
Jochheim, Fred (Died) Independent Register, February 25, 1937, p. 1
Jocheim, Rosa, (Died) Independent Register, March 23, 1939, p. 10
Lester’s Tavern (photograph of Reinbach’s Bakery and Delicatessan), 1955. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/1271/rec/1
“Libertyville Bakery” by Ethel Jochheim Bicknase-Getchell. Libertyville Mundelein Historical Society, 2005.
Libertyville Bakery (photograph), Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/6953/rec/1
Libertyville Telephone Directories, 1913 to 1959, Illinois Bell. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/search/collection/cookmemo11/searchterm/telephone%20directory/field/all/mode/all/conn/and/order/title/ad/asc
Libertyville Telephone Directories, 1960 to 2000, Ameritech.
Libertyville Township Assessment Records, Jochheim Building - Front. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/8073/rec/14
Libertyville Township Assessment Records, Jochheim Building - Back. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/cookmemo11/id/8237/rec/11
“Libertyville’s World War I Veterans: Frank Huber” by Jenny Barry. Shelf Life, Cook Memorial Public Library, June 19, 2019. https://shelflife.cooklib.org/2019/06/19/libertyvilles-world-war-i-veterans-frank-huber/
Life Before the Great War - slide 31, Bettye and Minnie Jochheim, ca. 1915. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/7900/rec/9
Life Before the Great War - slide 43, Minnie Jochheim, ca. 1915. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/7810/rec/7
Life Before the Great War - slide 63, Fred Jochheim, ca. 1915. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/7806/rec/6
Life Before the Great War - slide 72, Minnie Jochheim, ca. 1915. Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/7847/rec/8
Muller Trading, www.mullertrading.com/aboutasp
Tony’s Shoe Shop, 1956, Illinois Digital Archives, http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/cookmemo11/id/2029/rec/1
Village of Libertyville. HistoricLibertyville.com
Courtesy of the Jochheim family
Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Life Before the Great War glass slide collection.
Courtesy of the Jochheim family
Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Cizek Collection.
Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Libertyville Township Assessor collection.