In the late 1800s, a notorious establishment stood at 212 Walnut Street: George Conradi’s Saloon. A saloon in a frontier town was not a novelty, but an establishment trying to sell liquor in a dry county or on dry days received attention. From 1847-1873, Iowa bars could only sell beer, apple cider, and wine. Starting in 1875, each county received the right make its own liquor laws.
Conradi and his associates received regular mentions in the court section of the newspaper for serving liquor. One article includes an intro stating, “The Temperance People Feel that a Great Victory Has Been Gained and Enter Upon the Fight with Renewed Vigor: A Field Day for Temperance.” The article indicates that on December 4th, 1885, Conradi was charged “with keeping a building, No. 212 West Fourth street… as a place for the sale of intoxicating liquors in violation of the law” many times and in being a nuisance.
Conradi's Saloon was also memoralized in, The Career of Frank Pierce, or, How Prohibition Prohibits in Iowa. In the January 12, 1896 edition of The Des Moines Leader, a large section was dedicated to the review of this hot title and states before the first excerpt, "Here is the first literary gem in the book. It gives the history of a search in George Conradi's saloon, First and Walnut Streets."
Eventually the temperance movement passed, and Conradi was able to legally operate his saloon. He moved to 517 Locust in 1897 and sold “fine wines and liquors, imported and domestic cigars.”