This strange public clock that was given to the city in 1970 and later taken down and sold. Please see the story below from the *Milwaukee Journal Sentinel*
Photos courtesy of the Milwaukee Public Library
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Friday,April 12, 2002
Edition: Final, Section: A News, Page 01
All the pieces are falling together to give an old downtown landmark a
new home -- at the Brat Stop
By RICK ROMELL AND DORIS HAJEWSKI
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Once it was a gift to the city, a key part of a downtown tower that
Henry Maier said might one day draw worldwide attention to Milwaukee.
Soon it may draw still more patrons to a business that sells 2 tons of
bratwurst a week.
If local officials approve the plans, the clock the Schoenleber sisters
proudly bestowed on Milwaukee -- the 2 1/2-ton timepiece that once hung
in front of the courthouse, then languished in storage for years -- will
tick again in Kenosha.
The intended destination: the booming intersection of I-94 and Highway
50 and, specifically, the Brat Stop, a onetime '60s beer bar that
morphed into a restaurant-tavern-banquet hall-cheese shop complex
sprawled over 42,500 square feet.
"We fondly say it's one acre under roof and not a car for sale," said
owner Gerald Rasmussen.
Business at the Brat Stop is good -- $3.5 million in sales last year.
Rasmussen thinks the clock can make it even better.
"We're going to put it up on a high spot so it shows," he said.
That will depend on the City of Kenosha approving plans to hang the
21-foot-tall clock from a steel arch that Rasmussen would have built
outside the Brat Stop.
He's not sure what the city ultimately will decide. But once he heard of
the clock, it didn't take long to decide it would be an
attention-grabbing addition to his complex, and to strike a handshake
deal to buy it.
Technology to the rescue
That deal came about thanks to a few twists of circumstance and
ultimately, the power of technology.
A fixture in MacArthur Square for two decades, the clock, its tower and
a stage featuring animated figurines were a $250,000 gift to Milwaukee
from Louise, Gretchen and Marie Schoenleber. Their family home had once
stood at the site, and they donated the clock tower in memory of their
parents, Emma Theede Schoenleber and Otto Schoenleber, founder of
Ambrosia Chocolate Co.
At the presentation ceremony in 1970, Maier, then mayor, predicted it
would become a symbol of Milwaukee, much as the Eiffel Tower was a
symbol of Paris.
"There is nothing that has been done or will be done that personally
excites me more than this gift," the mayor declared.
Critics weren't as kind. One said the clock tower defied description,
then managed to conjure up a comparison: "It looks like it was designed
by dwarfs in the Black Forest," she wrote.
Charming gift or kitschy monstrosity, the tower gradually deteriorated
and the city, unwilling to take on escalating maintenance costs,
dismantled it in 1990.
The figurines and stage were in such bad condition that they ultimately
were scrapped. The clock itself was warehoused, and the city tried for
years to sell it. No luck. The National Association of Watch and Clock
Collectors nibbled at one point, but didn't bite.
Then, about a year and a half ago, the city launched an Internet auction
site. A sort of municipal eBay designed by city employees, it has moved
more than $50,000 worth of old leather police jackets, file cabinets,
computers and such.
"What we're trying to do is not keep things in storage and not have to
pay to get rid of it," said city purchasing director Cheryl Oliva.
And last September, the site offered what probably has been its most
unusual item to date -- the Schoenleber clock.
That caught David Vnuk's eye. Vnuk owns Vnuk's Lounge, a downtown Cudahy
bar that has been in his family since 1951. He also dabbles in antiques
-- he likes old toys, jukeboxes and pinball machines -- and had been
watching the city's auction site.
Vnuk wasn't sure what he might do with the clock. But he thought it had
historical significance, that someone should take charge of it and that
maybe he could be that someone.
He hung back until the last hour of the online auction, which attracted
five or six participants, before putting up the winning bid -- $150.
Then all he had to do was figure out how to move it.
"It is absolutely immense," Vnuk said. "You had no idea how big it was
looking at it downtown in MacArthur Square as opposed to seeing it when
it's sitting on the ground."
Besides weighing about 5,000 pounds and extending more than 20 feet, the
clock is about 25 feet in circumference at its fattest point. Each of
the three faces is 5 1/2 feet across.
"The cheapest estimate I got for moving it was like $2,200 or $2,600,"
But his Uncle Paul knew someone with heavy-lifting equipment, and got
him to load the clock onto a flatbed truck and haul it to a warehouse in
Racine. There it has been sitting for the last few months in a dark
corner, its faces and cut-glass body protected in a heavy wooden cradle.
Striking a deal
Paul Vnuk Sr., an appraiser and auctioneer, also happens to know
Rasmussen, and while both of them were looking at used restaurant
equipment in Port Washington, Vnuk mentioned that his nephew had a giant
Rasmussen checked it out, liked what he saw, and the men struck a deal:
The Vnuks would secure the necessary permits, build a 35-foot arch
outside the Brat Stop, get the big clock running and hang it there.
Rasmussen would pay them. Neither he nor the Vnuks would disclose the
"It's supposed to be brought, set up, installed and in working order,"
No one can say what the clock's donors would think of this. All of the
sisters had died by the time the city took down the tower.
As for Rasmussen, he's not looking to buy a piece of art. He wants a
roadside landmark. But if Kenosha lets him display the clock, he'll do
so with pride.
"Well," he said, "it sure looks like it's a masterpiece of design and
construction, doesn't it?"
Copyright 2002, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This
notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and
received through wire services or other media.)
Photo Caption: 2 Photos.