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A perfect little corner of Wisconsin

There’s really just one street corner in all of Hofa Park, Wisconsin but, with a tavern on one side and a church on the other it has everything you need.

As a bonus for those who find their thirst quenched, soul cleansed, and a little time still on their hands, Hofa Park boasts a state-of-the-art ball diamond on its northern border, and a dance hall on to the east.

Carved out of the Northwoods by four Polish families in 1877, Hofa Park owns a rich history of hard work, resilience, intemperance and excellent fish fries. Gradually, the families of Valentine Peplinski, Valentine Zygmanski and brothers Frank and Michael Lepak grew and drew more Polish settlers to the fertile area, rich with good lumber.

A terrible fire swept through the entire area in 1886, wiping out homes of the Pulaski, Podulski, Sentowski, Kielpinski, Sobieszczk, Gorecki, Jankowski and more familes. So devastating was the destruction that, according to the Dec. 14, 1886 issue of the Green Bay Daily State Gazette, more than a month after the fire, a Polish woman from Hofa Park walked 20 miles to Green Bay and went about the city in the rain to solicit aid for her wounded husband and children.

By all accounts, the raging fire miraculously left both the church and the tavern across the street standing.

We knew none of this Saturday night as we sat at the bar and ordered dinner. We just found the whole place fascinating.

The Hofa Park Tavern, built in 1883, has been owned by the same family since 1945. Current owner Amy Swiecichowski still uses the same fish fry recipe her grandma Bernice used.

Vince ordered a traditional perch plate, and I had haddock, with Bernice’s famous salad and homemade French dressing.

Both our meals were delicious. We washed them down with equally traditional Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweets, though we could have had shots of Old Crow, “the world’s most popular bourbon,” according to a vintage sign, for the equally vintage price of 35 cents.

Kudos to the Hofa Park founders, who built their little corner of the world to last.

We’ll be back and we’re especially looking forward to a summer visit, when both the ball field and the dance hall will be hopping.

The only corner in Hofa Park.

The only corner in Hofa Park.

Tavern sign

Pabst Blue Ribbon was established in 1884; the Hofa Park Tavern in 1833.

Stained glass view of the tavern

If you look through the stained glass windows of St. Stanislaus Church, you see the Hofa Park Tavern.

This one

If you look through the window of the Hofa Park Tavern, you see St. Stanislaus Church. I like to think the two views offer perspective and encourage restraint.

 

Reserved for priest

Mass takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

The brandy old fashioned sweet

Naturally, we ordered Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweets.

Saloon selfie

And then I took a saloon selfie.

Perch

Vince’s traditional perch plate with the original breading recipe.

The Haddock and French Dressing

My plate was much more colorful, thanks to the veggies and Bernice’s homemade French Dressing. It was really delicious.

What else do you need

Originally, the building also housed a hardware store and a grocery. A tavern, a church, a ball diamond and a dance hall. What else do you need?

 

 

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Posted on January 13, 2016, in and Dives, Travel, Uncategorized, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Foodie and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. This brings back fond memories! I grew up near Hofa Park & went to church there. Our CCD classes were on Saturday mornings at Father Mark’s house (behind the church). We would all watch Pee Wee’s Playhouse together in the living room before class. If someone was late in picking us up after CCD, they would find us at Bernice’s bar shopping for candy. Down at the dance hall, at the annual church picnic, is where my husband & I first met.

  2. Roxane Kapla Cagle

    I was baptized at St Stanislaus Church. My Grandma and Grandpa lived in the house next to the tavern, going down the hill. We used to get penny candy and ice cream for a quarter at the store that was part of the tavern. Love the memories! So glad Amy is keeping a part of the past alive. Thanks, Amy.

  3. Wow, I’m old. I went to catechism classes at the school. Father Damien was our priest. I don’t know if the school is still standing. And I remember Bernice slicing a pound of ham for mom when we would stop at the store after church. I haven’t been to Hofa Park in years. Thanks for the memories!

  4. If you are looking for a good summer time visit, you should attend their Church picnic which is held every year on Father’s Day (June 19th this year). From the polka mass on Sunday morning, the homemade baked chicken lunch, the raffles, silent auction, and the Old-timer baseball game (game between former players and the current team), there are plenty of fun activities for all ages. Also each of the activities are ran by longtime families of the parish, so you will see multi-generationd making it fun for everyone.

  5. Debbie Sparks - St. Louis, MO

    My grandparents lived in the house down the hill from the tavern – my mom grew up there with her two sisters. My parents got married in the church, we danced in the dance hall as children, my dad played ball on the ball field as a young man. This article brought back the sights and sounds of my childhood – fun family times and many, many memories from Hofa Park. When my grandmother died a few years ago the tavern was opened early in the afternoon after her funeral at St.Stanislaus and our whole family celebrated Esther’s life and toasted the many happy times we had in Hofa Park. Thank you for this wonderful trip down Memory Lane!

  6. Lived there growing up, across from the dance hall (pavillion), on the property that had an old schoolhouse on it.

  7. Surprised to see something about this small area. I lived there, across from the cemetery and I taught CCD, 7th and 8th graders. Moved there from Milwaukee…a major change.

  8. My mom sent me this article and it reminds me of the small town of Polonia in central Wis. where I grew up. It has the same landmarks on its central crossroad as Hofa Park, a church, a tavern, a ball diamond and many of the same names in town. My last name is Peplinski, my grandmother was a Lepak, my mother was a Somers (Sobieszczk) and my Aunt is married to a Pulaski. I look forward to visiting.

  1. Pingback: Father’s Day in Hofa Park | Molly B and Me

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