In 1988, Ed Langenberg and Jim Froesel rescued this 1878 building that has been home to The Drake Company since 1992. For Ed, it's home, again. He was raised at Drake in the house across the road from his family's former mercantile store.
Louis Langenberg, Ed's grandfather, had great visions for the store and the town in the early 1900s. Not only did he stock the basic necessities, he operated the feed mill that still stands across the road and ran the Drake post office inside the store. He also owned much of the farmland that surrounds the buildings.
When Louis died in 1925, Ed's father, Edwin, took over. Following in his father's footsteps, Edwin too was a visionary. He maintained a huge inventory of goods, converted the upstairs of the store into a dormitory for farm hands, added a tavern, operated a service station with three pumps, housed the telephone company, and provided a terminal for the local bus company. It was a busy place, according to Ed. Edwin died in 1952. His widow tried to run the store but it was too much for her to handle. She eventually she sold it, but kept the house and farm.
For 30 years the building slowly deteriorated, and when Ed made trips from St. Louis to check on the farm he was saddened by what he saw. Then, in 1988, the building went up for sale. That's when he and Jim leaped at the opportunity to save it. The result is a beautifully restored landmark filled with fine antiques and collectibles acquired by both men.
Once, when Jim was asked how he knew what to buy he replied, "Anything I like that fits in the car." Many carloads of "things" have found their way to the store. Ed also is an avid collector. "I've enjoyed and been collecting for a long time. I've kept much of what was in the store before it was sold in 1951," he explained. The original display cases are still in use and old photos are scattered throughout the store. Ed loves to tell stories about the "old days" at Drake.
The store is located at 2693 Highway 19 in Drake. It is open Friday and Saturday from 10 to 5 or when the flags are flying. Appointments can be arranged by calling 573-437-3133.