379 Benton Street – Matthew Bartel
Five generations of the Mary and Matthew Bartel family lived in this house, built in 1912 in the Craftsman style. According to McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses, the Arts and Crafts movement influenced the development of two styles. The first was the Prairie style (1900-1920) which began in Chicago under the leadership of Frank Lloyd Wright. The second was the Craftsman style (1905-1930), which began in southern California around 1903 and favored low-pitched roofs with wide eave overhangs, exposed rafter ends along horizontal edges, and simplified front porches- often with the roof extending from the main roof and supported by square columns. The simple Craftsman houses, sometimes called “bungalows”, became very popular and plans could be ordered from catalogs.
Matthew Bartel was born in Wisconsin in 1858. Mary Grote, the daughter of German emigrants Herman and Wilhelmena Grote, was born in Wisconsin in 1859. They were married there in 1880.
George Miller, the son of Joseph Miller and Anna Marie Bartel, was born in Council Bluffs in 1871. According to his obituary, “…with his uncle, Matthew Bartel, he established a pioneer grocery store in 1896 at 100 West Broadway”.
Bartel and Miller Groceries, on the corner of Broadway and First Street, sold “staple and fancy groceries, fruits and vegetables”. According to the nomination of the 100 Block to the National Register of Historic Places, the building was one of three on the block built in the 1850s; the others were built after 1870. The nomination states that the building initially housed an outfitting business. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century it operated as the Jacob Zoller Grocery Store, the Clausen & Zoller Grocery, and the Bartel & Miller Grocery. Other businesses on the block during the late 1800s and early 1900s included a meat market, saddle and harness shop, the Land Office, dry goods stores, a bakery, a dressmaker’s shop, barber shop, saloons and other grocery stores.
The 100 building is said to be the oldest on the block. The two-story Italianate brick building was extensively altered and covered with stucco following a fire in the 1950s.
Prior to building their home at 379 Benton Street, Mary and Matthew Bartel lived at 901 East Broadway. The house is no longer there. The 1900 Federal Census lists the household members, besides Matthew and Mary, as Delia, 12 and Arthur, 10. Mary died in 1932.
At the time of his death in 1934, according to his obituary, Matthew Bartel was a trustee of the Salem Evangelical Church. He had been in the grocery business for thirty-eight years, retiring in 1919. He was the father of G.A. Bartel, national treasurer of the Retail Grocers Association. “Besides his son, he is survived by a foster daughter, Mrs. A.V. Gibson of Miami, Florida, and five grandchildren, among them Miss Dorothy Stirtz who had made her home with her grandfather for many years.”
The names Bartel and Stirtz appear on the monument together in Fairview Cemetery.
Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research.
Preserve Council Bluffs is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and preserve the heritage of Council Bluffs through its architecture, sites, and people.
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