The ownership of the property on the northwest corner of Wabash Avenue and 14th Street was transferred from the United States government to J. Barr and J. Taylor in 1816. Records are not clear if there was any building before the present one. Early use of the property was for farming. At different times, both Chauncey Rose and Herman Hulman held mortgages on the property. Built in 1900, the present building was used for various other commercial businesses before becoming a tavern. It was used as the City Park Pharmacy and then later as the Hendrix Brothers Cigar Store. For several years in the early 1920s, it was an Oakley grocery store. It was changed to a cafe by the Fogg brothers who had operated a garage next door for ten years.

During Prohibition, George Sonka worked on the railroad and ran the route between Indianapolis and Illinois. Sonka’s cousin was, at the time, a provider of spiritous beverage to the retail trade. Sonka, at times, helped his cousin with the deliveries. When Prohibition ended, Sonka wanted a business of his own. He purchased the cafe from the Fogg brothers in October of 1933 and called it the George Sonka Cafe. Sonka only lived for three more years. When he died in 1936, the business stayed with the Sonka family until it became too much, and a partnership was formed.

The business passed through many hands afterward. One former owner became a high level employee of the Stroh Brewing Company. Another owner went on to become the City Clerk of Terre Haute. The last four owners of the pub have all been of Irish descent. From George Sonka’s Romanian roots to the present, the Sonka Irish Pub & Cafe continues to be a Terre Haute tradition for many lovers of good beer, good food and a place to meet good friends.

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