A phone call from Henry Ford is said to have prompted construction. Did you know the Gottberg Building housed a roller rink on its second floor in the 1940s?
Max Gottberg was a “change agent” a century before the business term was invented. He utilized his talents and adapted his life to the challenges presented to him. Born January 22, 1860, in Brooklyn, New York, he received his schooling in that city. At an early age, he worked on a tugboat that plied the Wappinger River from New Hamburg, New York. Afterward, he learned the weaving trade and worked for three years in New Jersey in woolen and silk mills.
His father died when Max was twenty. Lured by the promise of the prairies, he traveled with his mother, two sisters, and two brothers to Columbus. In February 1881, he bought 80 acres of railroad land north of Columbus for $5.00 an acre. On June 21, 1883, Max married Ida Schaad, the daughter of farmers who had come to Platte County in 1866 from Switzerland. They lived on the Shell Creek Township farm until 1892 when Max bought 160 acres two miles from their homestead.
During their 24 years of farming, they raised six sons: Max Jr., Jacob, Oscar, Alex, Milton, and John. Max owned the first steam threshing machine in Platte County and operated it until 1907. He became the third person from Columbus to own an automobile when he bought a 2-cylinder Ford at the 1903 St. Louis World’s Fair. In 1905, August Wagner could not find a mechanic who could fix his Ford. Max offered his mechanical skills, and a new career was started, initially on the farm and two years later when he opened the first repair garage in Columbus.
He became a Ford dealer and changed the name of his business from Gottberg Automobile Supply House to Gottberg and Sons. In 1920 when Max was 60 years old, he built his new Ford automobile and farm machinery agency for $125,000 and operated it until 1937. Four stone renditions of Model Ts adorn the corners of the building with their radiators featuring a “G” for Gottberg. Autos were stored on the second floor after being transported by the building’s freight elevator. As a publicity stunt, Max once drove a Model T up the steep steps of the nearby YMCA just to show what a good climber the car was. Max continued to work with Max Jr. in the auto repair and storage business until Max Sr. died on November 16, 1944.
Dale Electronics conducted some of its operations within the facility from 1952 through 1979. Once abandoned, the building fell into disrepair housing only pigeons and rodents. The City of Columbus received a grant from the US Department of Housing in 1981 to demolish the once grand building that had unfortunately deteriorated into an eyesore. Mac Hull, the owner of Tasting Toppings, the maker of Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing, stepped in to purchase the building. Restoration into a destination restaurant and brewery began in 1993 and Dusters–named for the protective coats worn by those who rode in the open-air automobiles of the early 1900s–opened for business on October 16, 1995. The main dining area features a distinctive mural that depicts 200 years of Platte County history, from horses to trains, and eventually the automobile. The building also houses a brewery and the Gottberg Brew Pub. The unique design of the Brew Pub reflects the area’s agricultural background, with its tractor seat bar stools, copper top tables, and grain bin ceiling.