107-109 West Second Street
The Deuhs-Baxter building is a combination of two structures with replicated old fronts. The replacement fronts were part of a 1988 economic development program to rehabilitate old buildings. The in-between building was erected many years after the original buildings went up. It is made of stucco and allows the strong, historic character of the two adjacent buildings to ‘show through.’
The smaller building (#107 on the left) started out in 1878 as Errin’s Bakery, but a wealthy immigrant from Holland named Gerhard Deuhs bought the building and set it up as a confectionary - selling candies. Success followed and he decided to branch out into groceries. In 1888, Gerhard built a two-story brick structure next door and set up a grocery business that would thrive in Chaska for over 100 years!
At Gerhard’s death in 1900, his daughter Elizabeth, and her daughter Nellie took over the business. They made their living quarters in the rear of the adjoining buildings, which was common in those times. Nellie was a force to be reckoned with in town, becoming the chairwoman of the Carver County Republican Party, a member of the Women’s Civic League, a candidate for mayor, and a founder of the League of Women Voters. Elizabeth was known to everyone in town as “Mootie”, but to the kids in town, she was known as the lady with the ice cream and the penny candy. A kid-friendly store for sure- that was Mrs. Baxter’s Grocery. Nellie Baxter and her mom, Elizabeth, converted their living room to an ice cream parlor. They set up two comfy chairs and invited kids in to read the Sunday funnies, no purchases necessary.
Nellie never married or had children, so the store was passed on to her nephew at her death in 1947. Leonard (“Spen”) Lano and his bride from Holland, Margaret, took over the store and continued this old-fashioned, neighborhood store, with assistance from his son, Henry and his wife, Flora. It wasn’t until December 1990, that the store finally closed its doors. It had one brief claim to national fame when the store was included as the locale for the CBS film, A Stranger Within.
By Julie Wiese