This 1890s postcard shows the Gottfried Schaal hardware store at the northwest corner of Water and Pearl streets. The house to the right of the store was moved to make room for the new building.

Brothers-in-law Ferdinand T. Yahr and Gottfried Schaal dissolved their hardware firm, F.T. Yahr & Co., in February 1882. A month later Schaal told the Princeton Republic he planned to open his own hardware business. Schaal bought the lot at the northwest corner of Water and Pearl streets, formerly known as the old Boylan corner, for $1,500 from Carl Worm.

Contrary to the information in the City of Princeton’s Historical Walking Tour plaque, however, the new store did not “incorporate an existing structure from the 1840s.” The building was moved north on Pearl Street to make room for the new store.

Princeton Republic, March 9, 1882: “Gottfried Schaal … will build a two-story building this spring. … The dwelling house is to take a back seat and will be fitted up for a residence.”

Schaal purchased lumber in Oshkosh and had it brought to Princeton by boat. He cut down trees to clear off the corner. The Republic provided regular updates of the work, including the following:

Princeton Republic, June 22, 1882: “The frame of G. Schaal’s building is raised, and that corner begins to look like business.”

Princeton Republic, July 13, 1882: “Schaal’s new building begins to make a conspicuous appearance.”

Princeton Republic, August 10, 1882 – “G. Schaal’s new block is nearly completed except for the brick veneering outside, and the inside work will be completed in time for fall stock. When completed this will be one of the finest buildings in the village.”

Princeton Republic, October 12, 1882 – “G. Schaal has opened a complete assortment of hardware in his elegant room, and is now ready for business.”

Eight years later, Schaal decided to expand and complete the brick veneering that he had delayed.

Princeton Republic, September 11, 1890 – “G. Schaal will veneer his large hardware building with brick next spring and also enlarge his building by erecting an addition thereto between him and Mr. Worm.”

Schaal had to purchase a strip of land 6 inches wide and 90 feet long from Worm to properly locate the west wall of his new two-story building.

Princeton Republic, April 16, 1891: “The work of excavating for the cellar and foundations of Schaal’s new building commenced on Friday of last week. … The rear part will be annexed to his hardware business rooms so as to increase his room for a tin shop and storage of the wares connected with his trade. The front part will be finely furnished for a room to rent.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 10, 1891: “Schaal’s block is about finished so far as the brick and plastering work is concerned. It presents a splendid appearance. It is being finished in front in style different from the other beautiful buildings erected and presents a striking change though in perfect taste.”

Frank Mueller rented the new space adjacent to the hardware store for his drug business.

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