Monday, May 25, 2015

Famed Circus Performer Clyde Beatty at the M. Hommel Wine Company

On May 26, 1937, Clyde and Harriet Beatty, along with several other individuals associated with the Cole Brothers Circus, visited the M. Hommel Wine Company and signed the guest book.

Clyde Beatty, a native Ohioan, was well known as a lion tamer and circus owner. Three special trains brought the Cole Brothers Circus to Sandusky on May 25, 1937, where a performance was given at the corner of Campbell and Pierce Streets.

Several guest registers from the M. Hommel Wine Company are now in the historical collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The oldest guest register is from the M. Hommel Wine Company exhibit at the Pan American Exposition which was held in Buffalo, New York from June to October of 1901.  There was a guest register from the company’s display at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 -1905. The M. Hommel Wine Company also kept guest registers at its facilities in Sandusky, one dating from 1898-1917, and another from 1917 to 1967. An article which appeared in the July 1, 1963 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that Buffalo Bill and former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt had also visited the M. Hommel Wine Company and signed the guest register.

Michael Hommel was born in France in 1844. He learned how to make wine in the French town of Epernay which is known for its fine champagne wines. He came to Sandusky in 1871, where he worked for Mr. W. H. Mills, a local winemaker. In 1878 Hommel established a winery and residence at the northeast corner of Clinton and Pearl Streets. Here is a picture of the M. Hommel Wine Company, at 1422 Clinton Street, taken in March of 1955:

It soon became a thriving business. The M. Hommel Winery specialized in naturally fermented champagnes derived from grapes grown in the Lake Erie Islands region. The Hommel wine cellars were carved out of limestone, and maintained a constant temperature of fifty degrees all year round. After Michael Hommel’s death in 1903, his son William H. Hommel took over the business. The Hommel Wine Company acquired the Diamond Wine Company in 1906. This gift package was distributed by the Hommel Wine Company in the 1930s.

The M. Hommel Company stayed in the Hommel family until 1945, when it was sold to outside interests. In 1971 a fire destroyed the Clinton Street buildings that had once housed the M. Hommel Wine Company. An apartment complex is now located at the site of the former winery. An unopened bottle of extra dry American champagne, produced and bottled by the M. Hommel Wine Company, is displayed in the Industry Room of the Follett House Museum.

1 comment:

Gregory Massie said...

I have a wine glass gift box set from M. Hommel wine co. Greg 419-606-8379