Father-son crack mystery of Lambeau home

Curly Lambeau helped put a nice but nothing-out-of-the-ordinary city on the map.

Now, thanks to the efforts of a Green Bay native and his teenage son, the birthplace home of Lambeau can be put on the map.

According to a Lambeau biography, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach lived at 1205 Cherry St. upon his birth. But Ken Calewarts and his 17-year-old son, John, delved into Lambeau's life for about a year, with the trail eventually taking them instead to 615 N. Irwin St.

The elder Calewarts, a Green Bay attorney, gives most of the credit to his son, a junior at Notre Dame Academy.

"I came up with a lot of ideas, but I rarely left my office," Ken said at a news conference announcing the discovery Wednesday. "He did most of the legwork."

Their research showed that while the Lambeau family lived at the Cherry Street address, they did not at the time of Curly's birth.

With that path a dead end, the Calewarts learned through investigating Brown County Library records that the Lambeaus lived at 615 N. 12th St. when Curly was born. There is no North 12th Street in Green Bay, however, so the location of the house remained a mystery.

"That's where it started to get interesting,'' John said, adding: "We were stumped, but we didn't want to give up.''

Thoroughly immersed in the topic, John kept digging. With the help of library historian Mary Jane Herber, they scoured archives, maps and records from the Brown County Assessor's office.

The big break came when a family friend told John that Green Bay's East Side streets were numbered up until the turn of the 20th century. A little more detective work pegged the former 12th Street as today's Irwin Street.

"My dad and I immediately went to 615 N. Irwin St. to see what was there, and sure enough, there was a house and it looked old," John said.

While Cherry Street is located just east of the city's downtown, Lambeau's Irwin address placed him about six blocks from the Packers' longtime City Stadium home.

Ken Calewarts and several investors — the Hanamann, Olson and Ronk families — recently bought the vacant two-story brick home that was built in 1868. They plan to renovate the building, install a plaque to mark the building's significance, and sell it. A selling price has not been determined; it was purchased for a reported $90,000.

A portion of the proceeds — with a minimum of $50,000 — will go to Friends of Nicolet School, a nonprofit foundation established by the investors' families. Nicolet School is located across the street from the building.

Clearly, not just anybody is fit to own the birthplace home of Curly Lambeau.

The group hopes to sell the house to "either a die-hard Packers fan or someone interested in Green Bay history," Rudy Hanamann said.

Some potential buyers have discussed turning the renovated home into a museum, Ken Calewarts said.

Lambeau was born on April 9, 1898 and died June 1, 1965.

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