Princeton officially entered the age of the automobile in 1902 when the Rev. J.S. Wozny, pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, became the first resident to own a car. Others quickly followed as “motored” and “autoed” became popular new verbs in the Princeton Republic.
According to the “Dictionary of Wisconsin History”: “When automobiles were new, gasoline was at first delivered by horse and wagon like coal. About 1915, the first curbside gas pumps and underground storage tanks appeared in Wisconsin.”
Before gas stations, Princeton residents filled up their cars at roadside pumps at local auto garages such as the Washington Street Garage, Drake’s Garage, Schaal’s (hardware store, service station and Goodyear dealer) and Erich Mueller’s implement business. Sometimes the gas was pumped from a barrel alongside the pump.
In the later 1920s “service stations” offering oil changes and other services in addition to gas were commonplace in most communities. They utilized underground tanks for gas.
Excluding the garages outlined in two other posts (“Early Auto Garages” and “More Garage Talk”), here’s a glance at the first gas stations in Princeton and what became of them.
1. The Princeton Republic reported in February 1921 that sealed bids were being accepted at the home office of the United Consumers Corporation in Milwaukee until 8 p.m. March 15, 1921, for the construction of 21 gasoline filling stations, including one in Princeton, with work to be completed within 90 days from the time the contract was awarded.
In April, Alfred Warnke razed the building previously occupied by Aaron Fishkin’s general merchandise store, The Reliable, at the southeast corner of Water and Washington streets. “We are informed the building for a gasoline filling station which will be erected in its place, which will be constructed in the very near future,” the Republic reported.
Princeton Republic, May 26, 1921 – “Contractor Hagen of Green Bay was on arrival last Saturday afternoon and on Monday began operation in the construction of the filling station for the United Consumers Co.”
Construction was completed by fall 1921. Gas prices that Christmas were 23 cents for a gallon of 58-test (octane) gas and 26 cents for 64-test gas.
Warnke laid the foundation for another new building (441) to the east in June but did not complete it until the following year.
Princeton Republic, June 16, 1921 – “Alfred Warnke, who has acquired the Harmon property some months ago and located east of the new filling station, is at present engaged in cleaning up, removing old lumber and contemplates the erection of a garage. The building with dimensions of about 40 x 80 will be constructed of tile with a brick front and one story high.”
Intended and eventually used as a Ford garage, the building was first occupied by a men’s clothing store and shoe shop.
The gas station, meanwhile, later became a Deep Rock station before it was demolished in 1932.
Princeton Republic, March 17, 1932 – “The Deep Rock filling station, opposite the American House, is being razed. Mr. Warnke, the present owner, proposes to build cement driveways on that property for the convenience of the Ford garage.”
Princeton Republic, March 24, 1932 – “Alfred Warnke has completed the razing of the Deep Rock filling station on Water Street and is now making arrangements for the laying of cement driveways to the Ford garage building.”
Four more local entrepreneurs got into the gas station business in the 1920s.
2. F.C. Breivogel announced in February 1926 he would erect a filling station in spring directly north of the cheese factory near state Highway 23/73 and County Road D on the southeast edge of the city. (I have found no other information indicating whether the station was built. Does anyone know if this is the Subway site?)
3. Julius Schalow bought a lot near the intersection of Main and Water streets, east of the bridge, from the railroad in April 1926 for the city’s next gas station.
Princeton Republic, April 29, 1926 – “Julius Schalow, who has acquired ownership of a lot from the C&CNW Ry. Co. is busily engaged in making preparations for the erection of a filling station. The lot they have gained possession of is located directly west of the J.S. Pahl estate on Water Street. The owner informs us that the building will be of a late design with all the modern conveniences, and in addition a comfort station (rest room) will be provided in the structure. The surrounding will be arranged with a considerable filling, trees and shrubbery will be planted, and when all is completed it will represent one of the beauty spots in the city.”
Princeton Republic, May 27, 1926 – “Julius Schalow has the cement foundation completed for his filling station near the Fox River bridge and is now engaged in putting up the cement block walls.”
The Republic reported in July that the new filling station was completed and open for business.
Princeton Republic, July 5, 1928 – “Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Hyde, of Ripon, were arrivals last week and are residents of this city. Mr. Hyde has taken over the Schalow filling station and will conduct same in the future. They have taken up their residence in the late G.J. Krueger home (309 Wisconsin Street).”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 5, 1929 – “Lester Frederick, of Pardeeville, took a lease of the Jule Schalow filling station and will take possession on Sept. 15.”
Gilbert Dreger was the next proprietor of the station. In 1934 he advertised Quaker State oil, tires and tubes.
Princeton Republic, Dec. 13, 1934 – “Two youthful bandits held up two of Princeton’s filling stations last Friday night at about 8 o’clock, excited citizens who hastily summoned vigilantes numbering about 40, and escaped by way of Highway 73 at Neshkoro in the direction of Wautoma. The pair entered the Gilbert Dreger station, located directly east of the Fox River bridge, forced the owner and others who happened to be within the building to lie on the floor while they took about $20 from the cash register. From the Dreger station they went to the west side and entered the W. H. Doyle station, just as Mrs. Doyle who had heard of the first robbery, entered to warn her husband. Mr. Doyle was also forced to lie on the floor while they robbed his cash drawer of about $12. Mrs. Doyle found refuge in the rest room and locked the door. By this time Chief of Police Frank Beyer and special policeman Jake Dugenske and vigilantes had reached the station, the bandits walked out in fear, forcing Doyle to walk ahead of them. The posse fired several shots and the bandits returned fire, shooting at Conservation Warden Trainer and Jake Dugenske, shots entering the cars of Trainer, Chief of Police Beyer and Dugenske. The bandits fled on foot toward Montello disappearing in the marshes and woods. Here again a number of shots were exchanged. After a chase of the vigilantes they returned to the city and shortly there after they again met the robbers on Second Street, a short distance from the Doyle station, where they had parked their car, a Plymouth coupe, containing Oregon license plates. The car in the meantime had been taken to Highway 23 Garage. The bandits seeing their car gone went to the home of Stanish Lese, took his car and drove toward Neshkoro. … The chase was continued through the night, the posse arriving in Wautoma at daybreak to find that the robbers had escaped without leaving a trace.”
Princeton Times, Oct. 1, 1936 – “Clare Chapel, of Green Lake, has taken over the service station on Main Street at the bridge formerly conducted by Gilbert Dreger. Mr. Chapel will continue to feature Shell gasoline and lubricating oils.”
Princeton Times, Sept. 16, 1937 – “The Shell service station at the bridge recently came under the ownership of Pete Siekierka and Carl and Vic Lichtenberg.”
Siekierka expanded the business and established a Dodge-Plymouth garage next door. He built an addition in 1946 that doubled the floor space, providing more room to show and service cars.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 4, 1946 – “Fred Radtke has taken over the Shell Service Station, at the bridge, formerly operated by Pete Siekierka.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Dec. 19, 1946 – “Ken Fandrich and Tony May are operating the Shell Service Station at the bridge. They are also doing radio repairing and service.”
Princeton Times-Republic, May 1, 1947 – “The Shell service station at the bridge has added to its facilities a 30×40 foot addition which houses complete equipment for greasing and washing cars. Kenneth Fandrich, the proprietor, is quote proud of his modern facilities.“
Princeton Times-Republic, August 21, 1947 – “Herb Zanto and Fred Radtke who have taken over the Shell station ‘at the bridge’ have everything in their favor.“
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 8, 1948 – “Herbert Zanto has bought out Fred Radtke’s share in the Shell service station at the bridge.“
Princeton Times-Republic, March 27, 1952 – “The Princeton Shell service station operated by Herb Zanto has been sold to Elmer Urbach, of Montello, it was announced this week by Zanto. The sale which has been talked about for sometime became final and Urbach will take over on Tuesday April 1.”
Zanto took over the Condon Oil Company’s Texaco bulk business in Princeton. Urbach sold to DeWayne Stanton in October 1952.
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 2, 1952 – “DeWayne Stanton, of Randolph, Wisconsin, has purchased the Princeton Shell service station, it was announced this week. Stanton will bring his wife and four children to Princeton within two weeks.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 8, 1959 – “Carl Keesling, formerly of Milwaukee, has taken over the Shell service station formerly managed by J.D. Stanton (Stanton Shell Service). Carl has been with Shell Oil Company in the jobbing section of the oil organization. He has been living at Green Lake Terrace for the past four years. … Stanton had business for seven years. He continues as Homelite chain saw agent at his home on Fulton Street.”
Citing health issues, Keesling sold Carl’s Shell Service to Elmer Klawitter Jr., dba Bud’s Shell Service, in 1961.
Princeton Times-Republic, May 23, 1963 – “Gilbert Krentz Jr., 26-year-old Princeton resident, has taken over the management of the Shell service station downtown, now known as Gib’s Shell Service. Elmer “Bud” Klawitter formerly operated the station, Krentz previously drove truck for Ripon Foods of Ripon.”
Princeton Times-Republic, July 2, 1964 – “John Luzenski, service station attendant for 13 years, has purchased the Shell service station business in Princeton from Gilbert Krentz Jr. Krentz is in partnership with his brother-in-law, Paul Nikolai, in a body shop business which just opened on River Road.”
Ken Serr put on the proprietor’s hat at Ken’s Shell Service Station in August 1978.
Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 29, 1985 – “As of Saturday, August 24, Pat’s Standard, across the street from Princeton High School, has become Ken’s Amoco Service Station. Ken and Joanne Serr have moved out of the Princeton Shell Station into what was formerly Pat’s Standard.”
(Building is now The Ice Bowl, 725 West Main Street, which opened in 2020 and enjoyed its first full season in 2021.)
4. William Huenerberg built a filling and car washing station at Fulton and Dover streets, directly north of the Princeton Chick Hatchery, in spring 1928.
Princeton Republic, Feb. 2, 1928 – William Huenerberg is making arrangements for the erection of a filling and car washing station on Fulton Street, directly north of the Princeton Chick Hatchery.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 24, 1931 – “Three youthful bandits would not bother about the silver change held up the filling station of W. F. Huenerberg at the south city limits early Tuesday morning, escaping with a $15 loot in a small couple bearing an Illinois license plates. The trio drove up to the station at about 7:30 a.m. just as Mr. Huenerberg had deposited $15 in bills together with silver change in the cash register for the day’s business. Two of the youths who were from 18 to 21 years of age remained in the auto; the third, pointing a revolver at Mr. Huenerberg demanded he open the cash register. Huenerberg asked the young bandit, who he said, was about 19 years, to “help himself.” The youth took $15 in bills from the register, telling Mr. Huenerberg to keep the change. The trio drove on County D Highway south from the city and were traced by Chief of Police L.A Merrill to Montello where the trail was lost. The first three numbers on the plate were 102. City officials said that the three young men had taken breakfast in one of the restaurants and seen loitering about the city on Monday.”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 5, 1935 – “To Mrs. Wm. F. Huenerberg goes the distinction of growing the largest canna in this city and the surrounding community. She planted a bulb near the Huenerberg filling station which grew to a height of 6 feet. The plant at the present time is in full bloom.”
After William Huenerberg died in 1944, his son Karl continued operating the Standard gas station until 1955.
With Kenyon Krueger as operator, Kenny’s Standard Service replaced the Huenerberg Standard Service Station in February 1955.
After Krueger and his wife, Virginia, purchased the Yahr’s Clothing Store at 535 West Water in 1967, however, Huenerberg returned to the station for nearly another decade.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 29, 1976 – “Patrick Metcalf, a young Princeton citizen, has joined the rank of ‘a business owner’ in Princeton. Since May, 1976, he is the new owner of Huenerberg’s Standard Service Station, So. Fulton Street, Hwy, 23-73. … The station is now Pat’s Standard Service Station.”
Pat’s Standard announced new self-service pumps were available in August 1983 though full service was also still provided for the convenience of customers.
Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 29, 1985 – “As of Saturday, August 24, Pat’s Standard, across the street from Princeton High School, has become Ken’s Amoco Service Station. Ken and Joanne Serr have moved out of the Princeton Shell Station into what was formerly Pat’s Standard.”
(The building at 531 South Fulton Street in 2021 houses the police department; City Hall occupies an addition to the building.)
5. John Kalupa began preparations in April 1928 to open a filling station near the southeast corner of Main and Second streets.
Princeton Republic, April 19, 1928 – “John Kalupa and crew of men are busily engaged in making arrangements for a filling station on the southeast corner of Main and Second streets. The main building now occupying the corner and used for a grocery store will be moved in the extreme rear of the lot to make room for the station. The new station will be built of red brick, will be modern in design and fitted with a rest room. The east wing of the old Messing building will be remodeled and transformed into a grocery store, while that part of the building moved back will be utilized for a garage. Mr. Kalupa has engaged the services of contractor August Arndt of Markesan to do the carpenter and mason work.”
The new filling station, named “First and Last Chance,” opened on July 1 with A.A. Sommerfeldt as manager. For the grand opening, customers could get either one gallon of gasoline or one quart of oil free with every five gallons of gasoline purchased.
Princeton Republic, July 30, 1931 – “Bert Doyle, of Hartford, who came to this city recently, has taken over the John Kalupa filling station, West Side, and is dealing in the Cities Service products. Mr. Doyle is a son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. A.S. Humphrey and is by no means a stranger to this city. He has visited here on many occasions.”
Doyle has the distinction of likely being the only gas station operator in Princeton who experienced two armed robberies!
Princeton Republic, Dec. 15, 1932 – “W. H. Doyle, this city, and John Biegick, Berlin, have declared Rex Arndt to be the bandit who held them up in their filling stations. The former was held up on Wednesday evening of last week, and the latter a week or ten days ago.”
Arndt got $8 in the Princeton holdup. The second Doyle robbery was more unnerving.
Princeton Republic Dec. 13, 1934 – “Two youthful bandits held up two of Princeton’s filling stations last Friday night at about 8 o’clock, excited citizens who hastily summoned vigilantes, numbering about 40, and escaped by way of Highway 73 at Neshkoro in the direction of Wautoma. The pair entered the Gilbert Dreger station, located directly east of the Fox river bridge, forced the owner and others who happened to be within the building to lie on the floor while they took about $20 from the cash register. From the Dreger station they went to the west side and entered the W. H. Doyle station, just as Mrs. Doyle who had heard of the first robbery, entered to warn her husband. Mr. Doyle was also forced to lie on the floor while they robbed his cash drawer of about $12. Mrs. Doyle found refuge in the rest room and locked the door. Bhy this time Chief of Police Frank Beyer and special police Jake Dugenske and vigilantes had reached the station the bandits walked out in fear, forcing Doyle to walk ahead of them. The posse fired several shots and the bandits returned fire, shooting at Conservation Warden Trainer and Jake Dugenske, shots entering the cars of Trainer, Chief of Police Beyer and Dugenske. The bandits fled on foot toward Montello disappearing in the marshes and woods.”
The bandits stole another car and escaped the police and vigilantes who did not give up the chase until dawn.
Doyle left Kalupa’s station and moved to a new station erected at the southwest corner of Dover and Fulton streets in July 1939. Edward Krystofiak, Kalupa’s son-in-law and one of Princeton’s all-time best athletes, left a job as timekeeper at an Appleton construction firm to operate the business.
Kristy’s Standard Station became an anchor of the West Side until being forced to move during reconstruction of Highway 23 and replacement of the Main Street bridge in 1983-84. The Krystofiaks razed the building and rebuilt just south of the original site, saying they had gone from being the oldest station in town (it wasn’t) to the newest.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 7, 1984 – “The move has been made and Kristy’s Standard Service Station is in its new quarters and location just south of the intersection of state Highways 23 and 72 on the west side of Princeton.”
The Krystofiaks sold the business three years later, with sons Jim and Paul pursuing coaching and music careers, respectively, and both Ed and Alice having dealt with health issues.
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 7, 1988 – “Almost half a century of serving the public in business came to an end on Dec. 30, 1987, as Edward “Kristy” Krystofiak turned the key of Kristy’s Standard Service for the last time. Condon Oil Company of Ripon assumed ownership of the property on Friday, Dec. 31. … The business had been under the Kristy name since August 1939. The name was synonymous with Princeton sports and Princeton business since the early 1930s. Kristy acquired the nickname during his high school years as an athlete and it stayed through city baseball years and on to the business world. Some of his customers didn’t even know his full name but that wasn’t important. All ages called him ‘Kristy.'”
The new Princeton Mart included video tape rentals and convenience foods in addition to gasoline service. Condon Oil’s request to sell liquor at the gas station drew significant opposition.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 11, 1992 – “At the Princeton City Council meeting Tuesday evening several area business owners protested the fact or possibility of additional local licenses for intoxicating liquor to be sold. Princeton Mobil Mart’s application was filed for Class A malt and Class A intoxicating licenses. The board did have a motion to accept the application, and a second, before there was any comment from the attending business owners. Points presented to the board by the owners of Classic Liquors were the statistics about drunk driving. … Princeton already has 15 outlets where people can purchase liquor (any Class B license can sell up to four bottles a time to a customer across the bar). The state recommends one B license for every 500 people. Princeton has one license for every 85 people far exceeding the need for any additional A/B licenses, especially a gas station.”
The council tabled the license until its next meeting. Not surprisingly, money again trumped morals.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 23, 1992 – “At the City of Princeton’s monthly meeting on July 14th the Licensing Committee’s recommendation was approved, to have a Class A malt liquor license renewal and a Class A intoxicating liquor license granted, to the Princeton Mobil Mart. This is an issue of concern to several Princeton people, with a few hundred signatures on a petition.”
The Mobil station and convenience store still occupy the site in 2022.
Additional gas stations were built in the 1930s.
6. The Shell Oil & Gasoline Company erected a filling station on the corner of Main and Mechanic streets, on property formerly owned by Mrs. Wm. Lueck, in 1930.
Princeton Republic, Dec. 25, 1930 – “The filling station, corner of Main and Mechanic streets, was recently completed and opened for business. The building is of steel and stucco construction and adds to the beauty of that section of the city. Alfred Sommerfeldt has taken over the lease hold of the building and deals in the Shell Oil company products. … We are informed the Shell Oil company contemplate the erection of a bulk station in Princeton the coming summer.”
Princeton Republic, Feb. 4, 1932 – “Edward Haberman last week took over the Shell filling station formerly conducted by A. A. Sommerfeldt on Main Street.”
Princeton Times, Sept. 12, 1935 – “Harold Wegner has taken over the Shell gas and oil service station on Main Street formerly conducted by A.E. Dony.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 29, 1940 – “Princeton’s first building must have been located near the present site of the Wegner service station, since Ernst Manthey (who was the father of the late Edw. Manthey) had his residence on the site of the present Henry Grams house.” (Bird’s-Eye View of the History of Princeton”)
Princeton Times-Republic, June 25, 1942 – “Harold Wegner has bought the H.J. Schroeder trucking business. He will also continue to conduct his Shell service station which he has operated for the past seven years.”
The building at 631 West Main Street was replaced in 1951 and became a Texaco station.
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 5, 1950 – “Early last week Clarence Gallert leased the former Texaco station which has been operated by Elmer Lipke on the corner across from the new Handcraft plant (Main and Washington) and has converted it to a Cities Service station. He will continue to operate his old station (631 Main) also until his lease runs out on November 7th. At that time Irving Block will take over and construction is scheduled to start on a new station for Texaco on that site.”
Princeton Times-Republic, April 12, 1951 – “Irv ‘Steamer’ Block announced this week that Ben Hathaway would take over the operation of the new Texaco Service Station on the corner of Main and Mechanic streets this week. Construction is just about complete on the station which added a two-car grease and wash rack building to the station over the winter.”
Princeton Times-Republic, July 9, 1953 – “Harvey Kuehneman, of Princeton, took over the ownership of the former Ben Hathaway Texaco service station in Princeton on Tuesday and will continue to operate the station handling Texaco products, Firestore tires, Exide batteries and other lines.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 13, 1955 – “Harvey Kuehneman, operator of the Texaco filling station on Main street, recently purchased the four school buses from Lichtenberg Brothers, who operated the vehicles for the past several years.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 17, 1959 – “Harvey Kuehneman, service station owner-manager of Harve’s Texaco Service Station here in Princeton since 1953, has acquired the Dodge automobile agency and service garage from Peter Siekierka over the past weekend.”
I believe but am less than certain that Kuehneman sold to the Condon Oil Company in 1960. I will continue to seek documentation. Back to our trail …
Princeton Times-Republic, March 5, 1964 – “A new businessman in downtown Princeton is Harlow Polfuss, who recently leased the Texaco service station on the corner of Mechanic and Main streets. On February 21st, Harlow took over operation of the station from his brother, Marvin, who will now be doing service and repair work at his home on Highway 23. Harlow will continue servicing Texaco customers with gasoline and oil, as well as minor repair service. The station is leased from the Condon Oil Company, Ripon.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 15, 1979 – “‘I stole the money from the gas station. Here it is. I’m very sorry.’ This is the content of the note that accompanied a sum of money in a big brown paper bag received by the police department Tuesday morning. It all began Monday morning when Bonnie Steinberg, co-manager of the Princeton Payless Texaco, arrived at work and discovered the office ransacked and a considerable amount of money missing. … The station is located at 631 West Main and is co-managed by Ms. Steinberg and Daniel Kallas.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 9, 1980 – “What was previously Princeton Payless Texaco service station is now called Mike’s Payless. Mike Kallas returned to his hometown to take over the station on Main Street. He is leasing the building from Condon Oil Company beginning October 1 and will operate a self-service as well as full-service business.”
(The business remains Mike’s Payless in 2021.)
7. In February 1931, Max King purchased the Frank Kallas residence at the northwest corner of Wisconsin and Fulton streets, across from the Community Hall, and moved it to Howard Street, across from the park. Kallas retained the lot and announced plans to build a filling station and garage on his lot.
Princeton Republic, April 16, 1931 – “Frank Kallas is busily engaged in the erection of a filling station on his premises opposite the city park. The building will be of modern design and of (cream-colored) brick construction. It will be a two-story structure with living rooms on the second floor. Mr. Kallas will also provide facilities for washing cars.”
The original name was the Park Super Service Station, but within a few years it was known as the Parkside Tavern and Service Station. It featured Deep Rock products.
Kallas sold to Edmund and Herke Bartol.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 3, 1936 – “Thieves gained entrance to the Parkside Tavern early last Monday morning by jimmying the front door lock and taking the nickel slot machine which it is estimated contained from $35 to $40. The tavern is owned by Edmund Bartol.”
Princeton Times, June 17, 1937 – “Herke and Eddie Bartol will take possession of the tavern vacated by Mr. Semro on the first. The Parkside Tavern and Service Station, which they have so successfully operated, will be taken over by Floyd Kallas and Freddie Bartol.”
Roman Bartol managed the station, which continued to sell Deep Rock products, and was followed by August Bednarek.
Princeton Times-Republic, August 1, 1940 – “Elgard Foelske has taken over the Deep Rock service station until recently operated by August Bednarek at the Parkside tavern.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 16, 1941 – “Alfred Prachel has taken over the Deep Rock Service Station, succeeding Elgard Foelske, who has employment in Milwaukee. … The station, located on the Parkside tavern property, has always had good patronage.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 21, 1943 – “This issue of the Times-Republic carries announcement of the reopening of the Parkside Service station with a complete line of motor fuels and lubricants. The business will be operated by Tillie and Floyd Kallas in connection with the Parkside Tavern.”
Princeton Times-Republic, February 28, 1946 – “Louis Petruske, an ex-serviceman, has taken over the Parkside Service Station and features Texaco products.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 4, 1947 – “Freddie Bartol has bought out the Parkside Service Station which Louis Petruski had conducted for the past eighteen months.”
Princeton Times-Republic, June 1, 1950 – “The Parkside tavern and filling station operated by Floyd Kallas and Ray Winiecki was leased to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Neeb, of Richford, Wisconsin. They expect to take over on July 1st.”
Neeb gave way to James Martell and Duane Sayles, of Ripon, in July 1952.
New operators arrived in 1957 when Eileen and Ambrose Kallas began their 20-plus stint at the Parkside. Brose was known for his laugh and cigar, and Eileen handled the popular fish fries on Fridays and chicken on Saturdays. (Full disclosure: Eileen was my dad’s sister.)
I am unsure when the Parkside stopped selling gas.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 28, 1979 – “After over 20 years of business in Princeton, Ambrose and Eileen Kallas, owners of Parkside Tavern, have sold out to Nancy and Jack Carlton. Change of ownership took place on June 1, 1978.”
Carlton’s Corner Bar held a corn roast as part of its grand opening on July 29.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 8, 1984 – “Wayne and Trudy Severson are new business owners in the City of Princeton. The ‘Chit Chat Tap’ at 329 South Fulton Street was formerly known as Carlton’s Corner Bar. The Seversons are Milwaukee natives.”
The Chit Chat Tap changed hands again in 1989 when Faye Baggett opened Faye’s Place. James George followed Faye’s Place with Jim’s Place in 1997. The original building today is part of Jim’s Place, 329 South Fulton Street.
8. Herman Mosolf, who moved to Princeton from North Dakota in 1929, opened a filling station and garage on Highway 23 (now 408 Canal Street) in 1931. He passed in 1935. When Leslie Mosolf married Irene Frost in 1936, the newlyweds moved into the house adjoining the garage.
Millerd Mosolf was listed as the garage’s proprietor in July 1941 when the newspaper carried an announcement that Mosolf’s had become the local authorized dealer for Studebaker cars. The garage closed five years later.
Princeton Times-Republic, April 25, 1946 – “Millerd Mosolf, who is a graduate of Geer College school of refrigeration, Chicago, announces that he has opened an appliance shop in the building formerly occupied by the Mosolf garage on the West Side. He has the agency for the well-known Crosley refrigerators.”
(The residence still stands on Canal Street.)
9 Gust Dreger was the proprietor of a gas station built directly east of the Pleasant Valley pavilion in 1932.
The building no longer exists.
10 Another station went up in Princeton in 1933 on the site of the former Frank Borsack blacksmith shop on the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 21, 1933 – “A new filling station is being built on corner of East Main and Washington streets.”
The station managed by John Ronspies (Sr.) sold DX gasoline but later switched to Texaco.
Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 27, 1941 – “Norbert Nowatski and Harry Rozek have taken over the service station formerly occupied by John Ronspies. They will continue to handle Texaco products.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 23, 1941 – “John Ronspies is back again at the Texaco service station, having become associated with Norbert Nowatski in the business.”
Princeton Times-Republic, April 30, 1942 – “Jule Fenske and Aug. Mittelstaedt have taken over the Texaco service station operated by Norbert Nowatski, formerly known as Norb’s.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Dec. 18, 1947 – “Clifford Berry, who recently took over the service station formerly operated by Aug. Mittelstaedt, reports that business is very good.”
Princeton Times-Republic, March 2, 1950 – “Elmer Lipke, of Berlin, has taken over the lease of the Texaco station formerly run by Cliff Berry.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 5, 1950 – “Early last week Clarence Gallert leased the former Texaco station which has been operated by Elmer Lipke on the corner across from the new Handcraft plant and has converted it to a Cities Service station.”
Princeton Times-Republic, May 12, 1955 – “The Erich Rick property, now operated as a Cities Service station by Clarence Gallert, was sold last week to Luke Buchen for an undisclosed sum. Luke has not made definite plans for the station, but in the future he hopes to tie it in with the operation of his new garage building adjacent to the corner.“
Buchen struck a deal with the Mobil Oil Company and maintained the gas station operation with Gallert in charge. After Bob Meyer purchased Buchen Ford in 1972, he razed the Mobil gas station to create a larger outdoor display area for new and used vehicles.
Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 2, 1973 – “The Mobil gas station located on the corner of Washington street and West Main (Hwy. 23-73) has closed its doors. Bob Meyer of the Ford Sales and Service is the new owner since July 1st, having purchased it from Mrs. Luke Buchen. The transaction terminated the lease Mrs. Buchen had with the Mobil Oil Company. Clarence Gallert had been operator of the station for more than 17 years. His future plans are indefinite.”
(The site is now part of the Gagne Ford dealership parking lot, 511 West Main Street.)
11 Jule Fenske, who moved from the former Drake’s Garage at 431 West Water Street to the former Giese & Giese garage at about 535 West Main in 1941, moved again in 1944 to a new service station built by Arthur Dreblow three years earlier and two doors down.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 6, 1941 – “Ground was broken Tuesday for the new building which will house the Dreblow service station directly east of the Priske cold storage locker plant now under construction. The new building will be 24 by 26 feet in dimensions and will be built by cement blocks.”
I believe but am less than certain that Dreblow had used the building for his farm implement dealership for a time.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 2, 1944 – “Jule Fenske has moved his service station to the new location only two doors east of his old stand. He will continue to feature the Mobilgas-Wadhams lines at the sign of the ‘Flying Red Horse.’ His new station is complete in its appointments and is a great improvement over his former facilities.”
Fenske built a frame warehouse behind his station to store farm implements.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 3, 1954 – “At the auction of Jul Fenske on Saturday the property was purchased by Luke Buchen, of Princeton Motors. Jul will continue to operate his station at least until July. Buchen has not announced any plans for the location at this time.”
(The property today is part of the Gagne Ford parking area.)
12 Fred Ponto opened the Airport Tavern and Service Station across Fulton Street from the Community Hall in 1936 but not without some controversy.
Princeton Republic, May 7, 1936 – “Fred Ponto has opened his new tavern and gas service station located on highways 73 and 23 opposite the City Auditorium.”
Princeton Times-Republic, July 1, 1937 – “The special meeting of the city council held last Friday evening for the purpose of rescinding the ordinance restricting liquor licenses to one for each one hundred of population developed into a stormy session. Wm. Huenerberg, president of the council, led the fight in opposing the rescinding of the ordinance, which it was generally understood was to clear the way for granting liquor licenses to Tom Sosinsky on the West Side and Fred Ponto at the Airport Tavern. Mr. Huenerberg centered his plea around the idea that repeal of the ordinance would throw the town wide open for ‘every Tom, Dick, and Harry to come in here and sell liquor.” His stand was that the young people of our city should be protected from the evils of unrestricted traffic in liquor. And while he was unsuccessful in preventing a vote in which the rescinding ordinance was carried 4 to 2, he was successful in preventing a vote on the question of granting licenses to Ponto and Sosinsky. He pointed out that the licenses could not be granted until the new ordinance was published and was sustained by the city attorney. … Mr. Huenerberg threatened to get an injunction if the board insisted on granting the licenses. As a consequence, we understand that another special meeting will be called on to pass on the two license applications. And at a later meeting a new ordinance will be introduced to place restrictions on the number of liquor and beer licenses.”
Ponto got his liquor license. I believe but am less than certain that the gas station, which sold Texaco products, closed in the 1940s.
Ponto’s brother-in-law Ivan “Steamer” Block and his wife, Laura, operated the tavern following Ponto. They sold in 1946.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 14, 1946 – “On another page of this issue of the Times-Republic, Messrs. Joseph Wieske and George Baenen announce the formal opening of the Airport Tavern for Sunday night, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. With many years of experience as a chef at the Northland Hotel, Green Bay, and later at his own restaurant, the Victory Grill at Sturgeon Bay, Mr. Weiske comes here with a wealth of experience in catering to those who like good food and promises a real treat in the form of baked ham sandwiches and all the trimmings on opening night. His partner, George Baenen, we are told, is a real artist in mixing drinks.”
I am missing when Weiske and Baenen sold to Guy Laubach.
Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 18, 1955 – “Last week ownership of the Airport Tavern was changed when Guy Laubach, former owner, traded the tavern for Fond du Lac property and Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Luby became the new owners. They took possession on Saturday.“
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 14, 1960 – “This city was shocked Tuesday with the news of the sudden death of 42-year-old Robert Luby, owner of Luby’s Supper Club, Princeton. Mr. Luby, a native of Fond du Lac, passed away at 9 p.m. at St. Agnes Hospital after a few days’ illness.”
Mrs. Luby sold to Billy and Dorothy Daye, who remodeled after a fire in 1971.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 18, 1971 – “For the second time in less than three months fire has badly damaged another of Princeton’s supper clubs. The latest fire occurred at the B & D Bar in Princeton early Saturday morning, November 13th. Barnekow’s suffered the same fate early in September. Twenty-three local firemen responded to the call which came at about 2:20 a.m. By the time they arrived on the scene, the entire building was filled with dense smoke, making it impossible to enter even with the aid of gas masks. Flames were shooting tup through the roof around the ventilator in the middle of the building. The fire is believed to have started in the wall area behind the back-bar, possibly the result of faulty wiring.”
The Dayes remodeled extensively, reopened in April 1972 and sold the B & D Supper Club in June 1972.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 6, 1972 – “Mr. and Mrs. Robert ‘Bob’ Nettleton are the new owners of B & D Supper Club. They formerly lived in Illinois. Bob and Ginny (Virginia) have two sons, Neil, 18, who will help with the business, and Scott, 11, who will attend public school.”
The Nettletons operated the Coach Light Inn for several years and then leased the business to a series of managers. Don and Pat Gigstead took the reins of the Coach Light in March 1980.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 27, 1980 – “Patricia and Donald Gigstead and son, J.J. (James John), of R. 2, Green Lake, began operation of the Coach Light Inn on March 13. They purchased the supper club business from Ginny and Bob Nettleton, who have purchased a home at Green Lake and plan to move soon. … Interest in the food business was sparked by J.J.’s natural talent for preparing food. He has been employed as chef at Barnekow’s Supper Club.”
Paul and Shirley Kracht took the keys in 1986.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 6, 1986 – “Paul and Shirley Kracht of Montello are the new managers of the Coach Light Inn Supper Club, Princeton. They are managing the supper club now and are hoping in the future it will turn into ownership.”
Princeton Times-Republic, March 18, 1987 – “Carriage Inn, formerly Coach Light, opened their doors in Princeton on Friday, March 13, under the new ownership of Keith Tripp, Madison, with Pat Kautza as manager. New lights have been added over the bar section and new carpeting will be installed soon. An area has been enclosed for private parties, meetings and conferences. The room will hold approximately 36 people.”
Princeton Times-Republic, March 9, 1989 – Carriage Inn, Princeton, will be reopening this Friday! Taking over the family oriented restaurant are Wesley and Myrna Malnory along with their son and daughter-in-law, David and Mary Malnory.
The restaurant took a decidedly southwestern turn in 1990.
Princeton Times-Republic, May 10, 1990 – “Get ready for a restaurant unique to the Princeton-Green Lake area. ‘T’s Texas,’ located in the former Carriage Inn in Princeton, will be opening Wednesday, new owners Marolyn and Ted Warner said. They are creating a Texas motif with a Southwest menu. Warner is quick to explain the difference between ‘Texas’ and ‘Mexican’ when referring to the menu. ‘This is southwest cooking, not Mexican, and not BBQ,’ Warner said.”
New owners arrived in 1993.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 4, 1993 – “It is with bittersweet emotions that Lauri and Buck Wesner prepare to leave Borth, the friends and the bar that have been in their family for so many years, to move to Princeton to begin a new way of life. Wesner’s Bar in Borth closed Saturday evening after a good bye party thrown by the Wesners for their many friends and customers. The Wesners have purchased Nettleton’s Coach Light Inn on Fulton Street in Princeton from Virginia Nettleton, with plans to change their way of life, as well as their business. Wesner’s was an established bar, having been in the family for 70 years.”
Wesner’s Supper Club in Princeton was open Wednesdays through Sundays.
Jane and Jim Beahm purchased the restaurant on Aug. 19, 1997, and opened two days later.
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 4, 1997 – “Jim Beahm, along with his wife, Jane, have opened Beahmer’s in Princeton. The business was formerly Wesner’s. … The Beahms have kept the quality staff that helped them make the decision to purchase the restaurant. They had checked out over twenty-two different restaurants in the area before deciding on Wesner’s.”
The liquor license at 402 South Fulton Street passed to J.J. Gigstead in 1998. He and his wife, Laura, operated JJ’s Supper Club until 2006.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 18, 1998 – “JJ’s Supper Club in Princeton will be holding their grand opening next week. It will be held from June 24th to June 28th. … New owners, J.J. and Laura Gigstead, bought the supper club (formerly Wesner’s) on May 6, 1998. J.J. Gigstead grew up in the Princeton/Green Lake area having graduated from Green Lake High School. His parents, Don and Pat Gigstead, had owned the business from 1980 to 1983. It was known as the Coachlight Supper Club back then. J.J. had worked for his parents at that time and graduated from UW-Stout with a B.S. degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management in 1984. Most recently, J.J. was the general manager for Jake’s Supper Club in Menomonie, WI.”
(The building was vacant in 2021, but a company RS2 LLC began updating the building’s electrical and rest rooms and opened Sasquatch Variety Store in 2022, Kurt Smolek proprietor.)
13 W.H. Doyle added the last of the gas stations built prior to World War II in 1939.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 27, 1939 – “After operating a Cities Service Station at the intersection of highways 23 and 73, on the west side, W.H. Doyle is changing the scene of his operations in the service station line to the Princeton Chick Hatchery on highways 23 and 73 near the eastern limit of the city. Work is progressing rapidly at the night sight on the installation of the latest type of display and computing pumps and in improving the driveway, and Doyle promises that everything will be all set to serve his customers at the new location on August 1st. The new station will be a Cities Service Station and Mr. Doyle will continue to handle the dependable Cities Service products. Edward Krystofiak, we understand, will be in charge of the west side station.”
Doyle died in September 1941.
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 23, 1941 – “Amerigas is the name of the new motor fuel introduced here by the Amerigas Service Station, successor to the W.H. Doyle station next to the NYA building near the airport. William Knaack will manage the station and also plans to operate the Princeton Chick Hatchery located in the same building.”
The station featured red, white and blue pumps.
I do not yet know when the gas station closed, but the property eventually passed to Gerald Zuehls, who had started his business in 1967 at his residence one mile south of the city on County Road D. Zuehls Heating and Air Conditioning handled gas, oil and electric HVAC work as well as rain gutter installation and ventilation.
Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 2, 1989 – “Zuehls Heating & Air Conditioning is taking on a big new look. Norm Prachel Builders, Princeton, are hard at work constructing a larger building on the same site of the old business location on S. Fulton St., Princeton. Workers first had to remove the original structure in order to begin construction of the new larger building.”
The business included a sheet metal shop and fabrication center.
Zuehls Heating and Air Conditioning continues to operate at 601 South Fulton Street in 2022.
14 The city welcomed a new station in December 1950 when Gilbert Dreger opened a Consolidated station featuring green and white pumps in conjunction with an auto repair and welding business just west of the Main Street bridge.
An advertisement in the Dec. 7 edition of the Princeton Times-Republic offered customers at the grand opening a free ball point pen (reg. $1.49 value) but only one to a car.
The Dregers sold in September 1986.
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 1, 1987 – “Princeton Automotive Center (formerly Dreger’s Service Station) has opened under the ownership of Ralph Pierotti and Tony Brzozozowski, both of Chicago. The new business offers complete repairs on all makes of cars and trucks, along with full service gas at self-service prices.”
(The garage at 825 West Main Street today is home to Vin’s auto repair shop.)
15 Art Dreblow installed two large gas storage tanks at his implement shop on South Fulton Street in May 1951. “He plans on going into the cut-rate gasoline business there sometime during June,” the Princeton Times-Republic reported. “By July the Dreblows also plan on consolidating their appliance business and implement business under one roof.”
For more about the Dreblows’ Fulton Street adventures, see the post “More Garage Talk.”
The Dreblow family kept the gas station until the businesses became the American Traveler Restaurant & Gas Station, with Craig Obara as proprietor, in August 1979.
(The building in 2021 houses Grandma Sandy’s Learning Den, 631 South Fulton Street.)
16 Princeton welcomed another filling station as part of the “Little Chicago” motor court established by Elaine (Siekierka) and James Gervasi on state highways 23-73 just east of the city, on property formerly owned by Peter Adamske, in 1950.
Work started on a cement block administration building, followed by five cabins for tourists, filling station and tavern, Jim’s and Al’s Place.
Princeton Times-Republic, March 2, 1950 – “Len Gruber has taken the lease on the Little Chicago tavern and filling station. He expects to take over sometime early in the spring. Jim Gervasi will continue to live there and run the tourist court end of the business. The Grubers’ son Ken will handle the filling station end of the business.”
Bob Miller built his Chevrolet dealership on the property in 1961.
Princeton Times-Republic, May 9, 1960 – “Bob Miller, owner of the Chevrolet-Oldsmobile franchise in Princeton, announced this week that he has purchased the area known as ‘Little Chicago’ as the site of his new garage building. The present garage is located on Main Street downtown. The property purchased from Dorothy Krause consists of a home, garage, motel and drive-in in all, all of which will be torn down to make room for the new building. Construction of the 60 x 100 garage is scheduled to start soon. It will be a block building with steel trusses and is being contracted by the Giese Lumber Company.”
Miller sold to Dick Caswell, but I have been unable to confirm when the garage closed.
Princeton Times-Republic, April 29, 1982 – “There as been activity at the former Caswell Chevrolet-Oldsmobile garage on Hwy. 23-73 since April 1 as new owners took over. Arden Roehl and Donald Roehl, brothers-partners, opened East Side Service.”
Ken and Shirley Doman opened Princeton Lawn Ornaments there in 1989 and remained there for six years.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 20, 1995 – “Looking for that perfect accent to your yard? Princeton Lawn Ornaments is the place to go. With their new location being 621 Fulton, they will not be hard to find. Ken and Shirley Doman have spent five and a half years in this business that was located on Hwy. 23 until last month. The building that they were renting was sold to Gagne Ford Mercury. They have moved to their new location across from the school.”
The building returned to its garage roots.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 15, 1995 – “Gagne Ford Mercury has begun moving their Auto Body Shop from the building behind Chipman’s (restaurant at corner of state highways 23 and 73 about three miles east of Princeton) to the building that housed Princeton Lawn Ornaments. Now being located directly on Hwy. 23/73 will make the body shop more public. It will also be an opportunity to make a larger building capacity further their business by expanding the amount of work they will be able to handle. The corporation purchased the building from Robert Miller in June of 1994.”
The former Bob Miller garage in 2022 remains the Gagne Ford auto body repair shop.
If anyone has corrections or information on any other early gas stations, please let me know. I will continue to update the blog as my research advances.
Thank you for caring and reading about local history.