With the reopening of The Horse & Plow this month, we thought it would be nice to take a look back at the roots of this unique and historic Tap Room.
The American Club® was built in 1918 as a home for immigrant workers who came to work at Kohler Co. In 1924 a recreation center was added. That recreation center is now known as The Horse & Plow. Here the men spent their free time in the bar and the game room which contained four pool tables and fifteen card tables.
After a day of work in the factory, and time spent studying English at evening school or in the reading rooms of The American Club, the men would end their evenings in the recreation center for camaraderie as well as some good-natured competition playing pool and cards. Skat and Schafskopf, which are old German card games that use a 32-card deck, were the popular games of the day.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, a common sight in the recreation center would be a group of Skat players sharing a 64-ounce “tulip” of beer. This would cost them a whole 40 cents. A nickel could buy them a cold ham, pork or beef sandwich on rye.
In the early 1940s, the first major remodel took place. A four lane bowling alley was installed to the west of the Tap Room. Bowlers paid 15 cents for a lane and 35 cents for a shot and a beer. Sounds like a fun (and cheap) night out!
At the end of each season, it was a tradition to hold what was called a “bust-up” party in the Tap Room. A long table would be set with potato salads, coleslaw, cold cuts, buttered slices of rye bread, hot mustard, crunchy dill pickles and the traditional “tiger meat” which was ground raw sirloin with onions.
The old oak bar, the echoes of rumbling bowling balls and slapping of cards on the tables are now gone. The Horse & Plow was recently remodeled again, but the history of this unique Tap Room remains. Today The Horse & Plow continues to serve as a Tap Room for visitors of The American Club as well as employees of Kohler Co. – young and old. The Horse & Plow will continue to live on in the atmosphere of good fellowship and comfort.