The Gobbler was a unique
motel, supper club, and roadside attractionat the intersection of Wisconsin Highway 26and I-94(Exit 267) in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, United States. It was situated halfway between Milwaukee, Wisconsinand Madison, Wisconsin. The Gobbler was a popular roadside attraction. Dozens of websites have been erected as a memorial to The Gobbler, and to tell the tales of visits to the site. The former supper club was located at coord|43|5|4|N|88|46|15|W and the motel was located to the east atop a hill at coord|43|5|6|N|88|45|56|W.
Designed in the late 1960s by
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsinarchitect Helmut Ajangofor local turkey farmer Clarence Hartwigand opened in 1967, The Gobbler Supper Club (later renamed the Round Stone Restaurant) was styled to resemble a turkey's head when viewed from overhead. The menu featured turkey, as well as prime riband steak. A rotating circular bar that completed one revolution every eighty minutes was a signature centerpiece of the building. After the original owner died in 1979, the building passed through several incarnations, including a roadside diner; the last tenant went out of business in mid- 2002.
Hartwig's poultry plant was located just south of the supper club and closed in 1971 after Hartwig announced that it was too costly to upgrade the plant to meet new
USDAstandards. At the time the plant was the largest employer in Johnson Creek, employing up to 300 workers and processing 30 million pounds of poultry a year. Hartwig's other ventures, the Gobbler supper club, the Cackle Shack restaurant and Gobbler motel remained open. ["Plant Closing Shocks Village." Effie Loomer. Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, Wisconsin. Tuesday, February 09, 1971.]
In 1974, a Hearing Examiner of the State Equal Rights Division ruled that the restaurant violated the rights of two women by firing them for refusing to wear uniforms that were different from the uniform of male employees. Male waiter and bartenders wore tuxedos while female waitresses were required to wear "black briefs, fishnet stockings and V-necked hunting jackets.""Hartwig's Gobbler Files Close Notice" Ivey, Mike. Madison Capital Times. Madison, Wisconsin May 29, 1992.] At the time,
The Capital Timesbelieved it to be the first ruling to find "sex discrimination on the basis of uniforms." ["Rules Out Sexy Garb As Job Basis." Ann Beckmann. Capital Times. Madison, Wisconsin. Friday, April 12, 1974. Page 1.]
In June 2008, the
Frank Lloyd WrightWisconsin Tourism Program hosted "The Gobbler Gala" at the restaurant. The dinner featured talks by Gobbler architect Ajango and Wright historian Sidney Robinson. [ Wisconsin State Journal. [http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=/wsj/2008/05/23/0805230024.php "Architectural Icons Overlap At Gobbler"] . May 23 2008.] [ [http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2008/Default.asp Wright & Like 2008 - On The Road Again] .]
Across the street from the supper club, The Gobbler Motel had an adventurous, futuristic
Googie architecturedesign that featured rooms with symbol-shaped waterbeds (such as a heart-shape), 8-track players, and differently colored shag carpet (which extended up the walls) in each themed room. After multiple changes in ownership (including a renaming to the King Arthur Inn Motel) and years of unrepaired wear, the motel was abandoned in 2001. Shortly thereafter, the Johnson Creek Fire Department burned the motel to the ground as a "practice fire" for their firefighters; however, the concrete slab on which the motel was built still remains.
There were attempts by the Menominee,"Hartwig's Gobbler Files Close Notice" Ivey, Mike. Madison Capital Times. Madison, Wisconsin May 29, 1992.]
Potawatomiand Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribes in the 1990s to purchase the land for a multimillion-dollar casino, hotel and convention center. ["Casino Complex next for the Gobbler site?" Madison The Capital Times. Madison, Wisconsin. June 25, 1999.] ["Community set to decide whether casino's worth the gamble Traffic, overdevelopment some of the concerns that may be discussed tonight" Amy Rinard. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. June 30, 1999. pg. 1] The land was still for sale in 2007, the motel property for $6.2 million and the restaurant property for $2.3 million. [ Wisconsin State Journal. [http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=/wsj/2007/10/21/0710190045.php "Johnson Creek Growth Has Cooled Some"] . October 21 2007.]
* [http://www.helmutajango.com/ Helmut Jango] Architect’s website
* [http://www.lileks.com/institute/motel/ A detailed description of the property (with photos)]
* [http://gobblermotel.blogspot.com/ A detailed "Requiem for the Gobbler Motel"]
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