The History of The Red Mill


It all began in 1839 before Wisconsin was declared a state!


The Red Mill Inn & Pizza presently located at 1005 S. Elm Grove Rd., Brookfield, Wisconsin stands on lots 10, 11, and 12, Section 36, Range 20E, Township 7N, block 40 of Kinsey’s Garvendale subdivision. The first recorded purchase of this land occurred in 1839.

The first building was erected on the property in 1847. The Red Mill homestead itself has changed hands several times and was expanded from a simple farmhouse to what it is today, a thriving business establishment

Samuel S. Breese is recorded as the original owner of this parcel of land which contained sixty acres. Like most of the land in this area, the acreage was used principally for farming. Breese farmed his land for eight years before he decided to sell the sixty acres. Christian Vogel, one of the early pioneers of Waukesha County, was born in Germany on April 25, 1825. His parents, August and Dorothy Vogel were both natives of the same country. Dorothy died in Germany in 1847. After her death, the father and his three sons Christian, William, and Charles immigrated to America and settled in the Brookfield Township.

They bought Samuel Breese’s farm in 1847 and continued farming. At this time, they erected the first building on that land. Portions of the original building construction may still be seen in the basement structure of the present Red Mill. Fourteen years later, in 1861, August Vogel died. The farm house and land changed hands and Charles Vogel owned everything. Five years later the land again changed hands.

Christian Vogel, who had been farming in nearby New Berlin, took over for his brother on March 1, 1866. Christian lived in the same house and did some wheat and corn farming. He also had several head of cattle that supplied him with most of his meat and milk. The house was still the original size comprising not more than a few crudely made rooms.

The Vogel farm was sold to Liberty V. Garvens in 1929. The Vogel’s and Garvens’ were distant cousins. The sixty acres was added to Garvens’ one hundred sixty acres which was east of what is now Elm Grove Road. Liberty’s name was given to him because he was born on the 4th of July.

Liberty did quite a bit of farming. He owned the land less than a year when he sold the sixty acres to Lottie A. Kinsey, Albert L. Kinsey, and Helen P. Kinsey on March 2, 1929. The Kinsey brother and sisters dealt in real estate and later sold the land as a 61.2 acre parcel to the Wisconsin Trust Company on May 17 that same year.

An interesting fact recalled by Mrs. Helen Zinke, a Brookfield resident for over fifty years, concerned her parents who for some time wanted to purchase this farm acreage for dairy purposes. The barn was so dilapidated that the dairy inspector would not issue them the license to work out of the existing barn.

According to a notation in a file at the Waukesha County assessor’s office, a land contract was made but not legally recorded between L. A. Kinsey and son, and Nick Millen and Anton Sweykata on July 13, 1929. On record also is the date July 15, 1929 as being the date when the Fourth Continuation of Kinsey’s Garvendale was platted. At that time a stipulation was recorded that from July 1929 until July 1949 only a Caucasian person could own the property.

The next recorded owner, Elsie M. Carlson Backus, made the purchase on the land and sold on August 20, 1937 to Nick Millen and his wife Emma. The two of them had ten children.

At this time, the house was still only about one half the size of what the building is today. Three months after they bought the house Emma died during childbirth leaving Nick the sole owner. The first floor of the house was turned into a tavern which was sometimes served as a house of “ill fame”. This was not uncommon as there were many other such houses in other places. During the depression the county board closed them all down.

In 1938, the tavern was called the Garvedale Inn and became a beer join for teenage kids. They could come there and drink, dance to the juke box, and have a good time. It was more or less a neighborhood bar. The main beer brand was called “Harvest Brew”. It could be bought for less than two dollars a case and was guaranteed to be no less than 16% alcohol by volume. The beer was made in Chilton, Wisconsin. Inside the tavern there were wooden booths on the north end where the kids would always carve their initials. The bar was on the south end.

On June 29, 1945 Joseph and Adris Blicharz purchased the building. They kept the tavern but did not run the business. Two men named Behlke and Pesch ran the bar business. They changed the bar from the south end to the north side.

On May 28, 1947 Oren and Nine Foss purchased the property. The tavern was still called the Garvendale Inn. They retained ownership for two years.

Kenneth and Henrietta Behlke and George and Jeanette Lindberg bought the Inn on January 22, 1949. They also kept the tavern but it was changed so that the bar was L-shaped and ran north and east. The two couples ran the business and owned the house for five years until they sold it to Marie and Conrad Schaeffer Jr. on October 18, 1954.

When the Schaeffer’s took over, Conrad changed the name to The Red Mill. He named it after his previous tavern which had been located on 12th and Walnut St. in Milwaukee. They kept the bar and also started a restaurant business. Because they needed more space for business, Conrad wanted to add another room. However, building codes would not allow an addition for this purpose. Conrad then claimed he needed a bathroom and shower downstairs because he resided upstairs. This addition was not against building codes and was approved. Conrad added a large living room and a bathroom with a shower in it. That is how it came about that there is a shower in the unisex restroom of the restaurant today. The added living room became the restaurant’s first dining room. Later, a fully equipped kitchen was added downstairs and the Red Mill restaurant business was started.

In 1969 Thomas and Katie Halker purchased the building and property on a land contract. Tom Halker added another dining room to the west, converting a two car garage. The restaurant now had two stories and a basement.

In the basement one can see the original stone foundation and the hand hewn timbers used for the original construction of the building. The first floor had a modernized kitchen with a walk-in freezer, three dining rooms, bar, and band area. The second floor had an office, bathroom, and a couple of spare rooms used for storage. One of the larger upstairs rooms was used for dining and private parties from approximately 1972 until 1976. At that time fire codes prohibited any such use of the upstairs. Present zoning laws say that if the building catches fire and fifty percent of it is ruined the building cannot be rebuilt for business purposes because the building today is in the middle of a residential subdivision.

Tom Halker developed the Red Mill into a successful business. He regularly had live Jazz playing and served steaks, seafood, and chops. The Friday fish fry was the most popular night of the week serving anywhere from 425 to 525 people. In 1970 the most expensive item on the menu was the New York Strip priced at $7.50; you could get a burger for $1.95. These prices jumped up to $13.95 and $3.95 by 1980. Halker owned and ran the restaurant for 30 years.

Although the restaurant changed hands a number of times after Halker sold it, it was Butch Schettle that bought the restaurant in 2014 and changed the name to Butch’s Red Mill Pub & Eatery. He served steaks, ribs, and chops and added all of the antiques.

Mark Zierath and Brian Eft bought The Red Mill in August of 2019 from Butch. They bring 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry to the table. They are changing the concept of the restaurant to an Italian Pizzeria. Italian wines, cocktails, and beer will be served to compliment the cuisine. The restaurant will open up for an Italian inspired brunch and they will offer a Friday fish fry with traditional Italian Baccala as well as a rotating fish option. Jazz music will also be making a comeback to the restaurant!

1839 Samuel S. Breese (property only-sixty acres)

1847 August Vogel – house was first built

1861 Charles Vogel

1866 Christian Vogel (March 1)

1929 L.V. Garvens

1929 Lottie A. Kinsey, Albert L. Kinsey, Helen P. Kinsey (March 2)

1929 First Wisconsin Trust Company (May 17)

1929 Nick Millen & Anton Sweykata (non-legal recorded land contract)(July 13)

1937 Elsie M. Carlson Backus (August 20)

1947 Oren M. Foss & Nina Foss (May 28)

1949 Kenneth & Henrietta Behlke, George & Jeanette Lindberg (Jan 22)

1954 Conrad & Marie Schaeffer (October 18)

1969 Thomas & Katie Halker

Unknown owners from 2000-2014

2014 Butch Schette

2019 Mark Zierath & Brian Eft

***Most information provided by Red Mill Supper Club Genealogy by Steve Drake, January 8,1981.