In 1916, Paul and Vera Jacobs arrived in Rochester with plans to open a bar. After searching the growing downtown area, they found an open spot on First Avenue Southwest.

There, between the Case Auto Company and Rochester Motor Car Company, an empty space being used as a driveway quickly became home of the Old Heidelberg Bar at 313 First Ave. SW.

Unfortunately, the name Old Heidelberg raised more than a few eyebrows due to the strong anti-German sentiment of World War I. The name would become Koda & Miyake, after Frank Koda and George Miyake, two front men hired by Jacobs to run the bar.

After the Great War, the name Old Heidelberg would once again grace the front of the building, only to go dark two years later due to Prohibition. In 1934, and for the next 35 years, the buzzing glow of neon would light the way to Old Heidelberg.

“Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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