Clio Logo

In Ely’s early history, half of this lot was part of the Vail Hotel which was located on the two lots to the west. The part of the building, located here, provided a meeting room for traveling vendors who used the space to show samples of their wares to local retailers.   After the Vail (and the sample room) burned in 1905, this lot remained empty for over twenty years until the building you see today was erected. Initially it was Palcher’s Sweet Shop, later Maki’s Bar, then Maki’s Upholstery, Defenbaugh Law and ultimately the Jim Brandenburg Gallery. Read below to learn about the more interesting tenants of 11 East Sheridan. 

Sky, Building, Window, Street light

In 1929, The Sweet Shop was operating at this location. The Sweet Shop sold sweets and magazines and beer; there was a jukebox and a small dance floor in the establishment but no fountain.

The Sweet Shop was run by John (Curley) Palcher and his wife Mary Merhar Palcher.  

Curley’s life story had a particularly challenging beginning. Joseph, his father, was an Austria-Slovenian immigrant who worked in the mines. His mother, Johanna kept house for her husband and six children. When Johanna died at the tragically young age of 28 in 1909, Curley was just two years old. Without daycare or similar programs that are available today, several of the children, including Curley were sent to live with other families. Joseph appears as a widower in the 1910 Census with four of his six children living at home, along with a young housekeeper, Agnes Mehle.  Joseph and Agnes subsequently marry and ten years later Curley and Edward are back at home with their siblings and six additional children, the result of Joseph and Agnes’ happy marriage. All fourteen Palchers lived together on Lawrence Street in 1920.   

Curley and his wife ran the Sweet Shop and also a dairy, delivering Bridgeman Russell’s Purity Pasteurized Milk to Ely residents.  

 In the late 1940’s, Joseph Omerza and his sister Helen ran the Sweet Shop business for a period, until 1956 when the building became the property of John and Sylvia Maki who operated Maki’s Bar at this location. Later residents included Helen and William (Sailor) Maki’s Upholstery Shop, K-C Upholstery, the Defenbaugh Law Office and most recently since 2000, the Brandenburg Gallery. 

Jim Brandenburg is certainly one of Ely’s more famous business owners. He is a world-renowned photographer whose work has been featured in the following publications: National Geographic, The New York Times, Audubon, The Smithsonian, Time, Outdoor Photography, Outside, National Wildlife and others. His photographs from the Ely area and around the world have won national and international awards.   Treat yourself to a few moments inside the gallery.  You’ll find it to be time well spent.


1900 – Sample room for the Vail Hotel

1905 – The Vail Hotel burns

1924 – This is still an empty lot

1929 (or earlier) – The Ely Sweet Shop, John and Mary Palcher proprietors

1949 – The Ely Sweet Shop, Joseph Omerza and sister Helen Omerza proprietors

1956 – Maki’s Bar – John and Sylvia Maki

1970 (or earlier) – Maki’s Upholstery – Helen Omerza Maki and William ‘Sailor’ Maki

1986 – K-C Home Decorating – Kent and Carolyn (Columbo) Halberg

1990 – Defenbaugh Law Office, Bill Defenbaugh Jr, Kent Holmberg, Eldon J. Hall

1997 – The building rested

2000 – The Jim Brandenburg Gallery

The Sanborn Insurance Maps 1900-1924.

1900 and 1907 Ely City Directories. Accessed April 8th, 2022.

Ely Phone Directories from 1949 to 2020 (available at the Ely-Winton Historical Society.

The Ely Miner, Ely Mn, (1905, 1949)