Berhalter founded furniture store on Kendallvilles Main Street in 1860
By CHAD SIEVERS
KENDALLVILLE Berhalter Furniture, one of Kendallvilles oldest continuous retail stores until 1990 when it closed, stands as a downtown business that will be remembered for years.
The store, named after its founder, Joseph Berhalter, was started as a cabinet and coffin shop in 1860. A native of Wurtenburg, Germany, Berhalter emigrated to America in 1828, settling in Reading, Pa. before coming in Kendallville in 1860 to open the business.
Soon after opening, the store became a supplier of furnishings for many of the leading residences of Noble and adjoining counties. It also made burial cases and coffins for funeral parlors in northeastern Indiana. The small shop then was located on Main Street in the old warehouse in the rear of the old furniture store, which today is Corunna Bedding.
While Berhalter served in the Civil War, his wife, Fanny, continued to manage the business.
Following the war, the business boomed. It was able to buy a new hearse that the Kendallville Standard reported as the most elegant hearse ever brought to this part of the state a beauty costing $1,000, cash down.
The business continued to flourish so the Berhalters purchased the Gappinger Building, where the store was until it closed in 1990. The store was remodeled into a furniture store and funeral parlor.
When Berhalter died at the age of 52 on Sept. 4, 1881, his wife with the help of their two sons, George and John, took over the responsibilities of the store.
She died five years later and the name of the store became Berhalter Brothers with George and John running the store.
In 1923 John died and his brother continued to operate the business for another year before he retired. Georges sons continued to run the firm.
In 1928 Arthur J. Berhalter became the sole owner of the business. He remodeled the interior of the store and added a new store front.
Later, in 1935, the funeral parlor, which had been in the Main Street store, moved to 222 S. State St. where it remains today.
Arthur Berhalter died in 1945 and his widow, Emily, became sole owner of the store. When she died in 1956, ownership of the store went to Arthurs daughter, Mrs. Myron (Beverly) Hutchins. Myron had managed the store for more than 20 years and had been associated with the store since 1930.
Fred Rasp became manager of the furniture store in 1959 coming to Kendallville from Elkhart. In August 1973 Rasp purchased controlling interest in the furniture store.
His son, Steve Rasp, became manager of the store on Jan. 1, 1980, and continued in that capacity until it closed in 1990. The business remained viable, but Rasp chose to enter the insurance field. He and his wife and three children now live in Owatonna, Minn.
and George Berhalter are shown in front of their Main
Street store. Photo was taken about 1890.
DOWNTOWN HOTEL This photo of the Reyher Hotel was taken about 1915. The Reyher later became the Kendall Hotel that was demolished in 1976 to make way for a bank parking lot in the 100 block of North Main Street. (Photo contributed by Russell Frehse)