EARLY AUTO GARAGES, IMPLEMENT DEALERS

Princeton Motors, southeast corner of Water and Washington streets.

A previous recent post discussed the early manned drive-in gas stations that replaced roadside or curbside pumps. By the end of the 1920s most local filling stations had become service stations.

Garages, for this article, are best described as facilities that focused primarily on auto repairs and sales as well as maintenance. Some also provided storage space for cars during winter in the early years when cars were primarily fair-weather vehicles.

Some garage owners also repaired and sold farm implements.

Research about the garages is ongoing, as there are questions that I still cannot answer, such as when the Highway 23 Garage opened or when the Washington Street Garage was demolished.

Nevertheless, in keeping with the auto theme of the gas station post that was so popular, here’s a glance at the early garages and farm implement dealers I found during my research. I am breaking this into two posts. Today’s post traces the beginnings of the larger garages most often recalled by local historians.

Washington Street Garage

Bert Shew, architect and builder, erected the first garage in Princeton dedicated primarily to sales, service, repair and storage of autos on Washington Street, about midblock between Water and Main, in 1909. (I believe the capstone sits outside the Princeton Historical Society’s buildings on the “crooked end” of Water Street.)

Buildings containing Fred Sommer’s buggies and other items were moved toward Frank Borsack’s blacksmith shop on the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets to make room for Shew’s concrete-block machine shop and garage.

The Princeton Republic reported in November 1909 that the machinery and turning lathe had arrived for the Shew & Yahr Automobile Garage. Shew opened a roller-skating rink on the second floor, which the high school athletic club also reserved for its basketball practices.

Princeton Republic, March 3, 1910 – “Dr. A. G. Giese has purchased a beautiful Buick Touring Car of the Princeton Auto Co. of which B. Shew and V. Yahr are co-partners.”

Shew built another two-story building adjoining the garage in 1910 for the implement dealership of Lambrecht & Krueger, who eventually also sold autos.

Princeton Republic, August 4, 1910 – “Messrs. Lambrecht & Krueger are busily engaged in the erection of a modern and up-to-date implement and machinery building at their old stand adjoining the Princeton Garage. The building will be 33×65 two-story, brick and cement blocks. Architect B.H. Shew has the contract.”

The garage then went through a dizzying parade of managers and owners. The garage managers included Victor F. Yahr, Albert Francikowski, W.P. Wilson, J. Bernecki and Herman J. Bernharndt.

Princeton Republic, Oct. 13, 1910 – “Victor Yahr sold his interest in the Princeton Auto Garage last week to Bert Shew. The company was organized last spring and they can boast of having done a splendid business in the sale of automobiles and supplies.”

Harry Drake arrived in June 1915 as the new machinist and gasoline engine man at the Washington Street garage. He handled all cars but specialized in Fords.

F.F. Krueger and William Grahn took over the Washington Street property in 1916 after Drake purchased and moved into the building at 435 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic, June 8, 1916 – “This week the garage on Washington Street opened under the firm name of Krueger & Grahn. They are now ready to serve the public with a full line of auto accessories, oils, gasoline, and guarantee service in repairing autos and all kinds of machinery at a very reasonable price. … The garage is to be overhauled and later another addition is to be built on it. It is a building now 55 by 80 feet with a large amount of space for storing cars. The firm say that they will run a livery in connection with their auto business and give the best of attention to all cars left in their care for storage or repairs. Krueger & Grahn have the agency for the famous Overland autos and have cars on exhibition and will give those interested demonstrations with this popular car. The firm will also carry a full line of farm machinery and do pump repair and general machinery repair work.”

The new owners built a 20-by-48-foot addition to the rear of the garage for a machine shop and work room. A dance was held to christen Grahn’s hall.

Princeton Republic, May 17, 1917 – “Wm. Schwenzer opened up a billiard and pool room above the Grahn garage lately. He has installed all fine and the latest type of tables and the hall presents a neat and up to the minute appearance.”

The garage went into foreclosure and was purchased by William Fenske in March 1934.

Princeton Republic, March 1, 1934 – “Wm. Fenske – Have taken over the garage of Wm. A. Grahn and am in position to do all repairing of automobiles.”

The 1927 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the Borsack blacksmith shop at the southwest corner of Main and Washington, where a gas station was erected in 1933; the farm implements building at the southeast corner of Main and Pearl streets replaced by the Farmers-Merchants National Bank in 1963-64; the Highway 23 Garage next door east that became the Princeton Implement Company and was razed also in 1963-64 for the bank; a shed (514/329) where Art Dreblow built a service station in 1941 that became Fenske’s “On the Highway”; and the Washington Street Garage and adjacent Krueger & Lambrecht implement business just north. Those two concrete-block buildings, the blacksmith shop and gas station, and Fenske’s were razed over the years by the local Ford dealers; the properties are now part of Gagne Ford.

Krueger & Lambrecht

We need to backtrack a little to catch up on the history of the Krueger & Lambrecht implement building.

The Krueger & Lambrecht implement business was located on the west side of Washington Street, north of and adjacent to the Washington Street Garage. They primarily sold and repaired farm machinery, drilled wells, and handled plumbing and millwork.

Previous owners of the business, which can be traced back as far as the 1880s, included Graf & Sommerfeldt, F.A. Sommers & Son, and Welk & Lambrecht.

Herman Krueger and H.L. Lambrecht replaced their frame building in 1910.

Princeton Republic April 7, 1910 – “Before removing our old building we will sell for the next few weeks at cost our splendid line of buggies. Lambrecht and Krueger”

Princeton Republic, August 4, 1910 – “Messrs. Lambrecht & Krueger are busily engaged in the erection of a modern and up-to-date implement and machinery building at their old stand adjoining the Princeton Garage. The building will be 33×65 two-story, brick and cement blocks. Architect B.H. Shew has the contract.”

Farm implements remained the duo’s primary business. In 1912 Lambrecht & Krueger were the local agents for John Deere gang plows, planters and cultivators, Success spreaders and buggies.

The newspaper reported Herman Weber of Mecan bought a new Ford from Krueger & Lambrecht in 1914.

Lambrecht departed for Ripon a short time later and sold his home on Water Street to Herman A. Megow.

Princeton Republic, Jan. 27, 1916 – “Herman L. Lambrecht disposes of his interest in Lambrecht & Krueger to Wm. Grahn of the town of Shields. Lambrecht and Krueger have had a line of general implement business for the past six years. The new firm will be Krueger & Grahn, with Herman Krueger as senior partner. Complete line of farm implements, threshers outfits and Overland cars.”

Krueger sold his interest in the garage business to Grahn but continued selling farm implements. Grahn’s garage went into foreclosure and was purchased by William Fenske in March 1934.

Krueger, meanwhile, left the property where he had been in business since 1910 in 1946.

Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 24, 1946 – “H.E. Krueger is preparing to vacate the building in which he has conducted his farm implement business for 35 years. The building was recently sold to E. F. Lang, who will use it as a warehouse.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 17, 1946 – Herman E. Krueger announces that he has retired from the implement business which he has conducted for over 36 years. He started in business here February 1, 1910, and during all that time enjoyed the reputation of being fair and square with his customers and of giving their needs in farm machinery and supplies first consideration.

The Handcraft Company also rented storage space in the building for a time.

Luke Buchen bought both Washington Street buildings – the garage and implement buildings – in the 1960s and created an entryway to the adjacent Buchen Motors (previously Princeton Motors) garage built in 1954-55.

I have yet to confirm when the Washington Street buildings were torn down, but I’ve been told in the 1990s. I will update when I find documentation.

Drake’s Garage

Harry Drake left the Washington Street Garage in 1916 to open Drake’s Garage at 435 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic, Aug. 3, 1916 – “Last week Friday a deal was transacted between Mrs. H. Harmon and Harry Drake whereby the later took over the ownership of her building on Water Street. The building will be occupied by Mr. Drake and will be transferred into a modern garage.”

Princeton Republic, Nov. 2, 1916 – “The incorporation recently formed by the Drake Garage Co. are now engaged in the construction of a new garage on the old site formerly occupied by Mr. Drake. The building being built with solid brick will be 30×100 in dimensions and will be modern and up-to-date in every respect. The incorporators are Harry Drake, president; Mrs. Drake, vice president; Herman Lichtenberg, secretary and treasurer.”

Princeton Republic, Dec. 7, 1916 – “The new Drake’s Garage building which has been under construction for the past number of weeks has been completed recently and presents a very fine appearance and greatly adds to the appearance of the neighborhood. The building was constructed of cement and red brick front and is a one-story building. They have the sole agency for the Ford cars in this city and are in receipt of three carloads.”

Harry Drake left for Clintonville in January to work with the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company, later known as the FWD Corporation. Frank Nickodem, Herman Lichtenberg and A.A. Krueger kept the garage going. Lichteberg managed the Drake garage in Princeton and Krueger the garage in Wautoma.

The Drake Garage unveiled new Fordson tractors in June 1918 and sponsored a demonstration at the Anton Novak farm 2.5 miles east of Princeton in August. Farmers could “see this machine work, plow and haul.”

Just two weeks later, Nickodem, Lichtenberg and Krueger sold the garage.

Princeton Republic, Aug. 15, 1918 – “On last Monday a deal was consummated between Drake Garage Co. and A.E. Schultz, of Kewaunee, whereby the latter became the owner of the former stock, supplies, autos, etc. and will take possession on Monday, Aug. 19. … Mr. NIckodem going into Uncle Sam’s service as truck driver and Mr. Lichtenberg expecting his call at almost any date for the same position prompted the firm to dispose of their large business. Mr. Schultz, a former citizen of Neshkoro, has been engaged in the farm implement, auto and auto repair business for a large number of years.”

Schultz also occupied the brick building at 439 West Water Street (Embellished building in 2021) and installed a vulcanizing machine there in February 1919.

Princeton Republic, July 17, 1919 – “Last Sunday afternoon at about 2:30 o’clock our little city was thrown into a state of excitement when the fire alarm was sounded, and a fire was discovered in the lower rooms of the Herman Warnke building occupied by the A.E. Schultz garage as a storage and a vulcanizing room. The Fire Department arrived very promptly and found the entire lower room and the rear outside stairway one mass of flames and many were of the opinion that the building, possibly the entire block, was doomed. Also, the Harmon building across the alley being in great danger of being caught from the flames which shot through the west windows toward the frame structure. However, the prompt action and excellent work of the firemen and throwing two streams of water, the fire after a few minutes was under control. The fire, it is estimated, originated in the vulcanizing room of the Warnke building and soon spread to the outside stairway leading to the second story. The second story being arranged into dwelling rooms was inhabited by Theodore Radtke and family. The rooms filling rapidly with smoke made it impossible to carry the furniture to a place of safety. …  The storage room of the garage containing considerable amount of stock was totally destroyed but was partly covered by insurance. The garage itself was only slightly damaged in a few broken windows and ceiling being smoked up.”

The garage changed hands about one week later.

Princeton Republic, July 24, 1919 – “In a deal recently consummated between A.E. Schultz and Wm. Knaack and Ernest Priebe the latter two become the owners of the former garage business and Ford agency. The business will hereafter be conducted under the firm of Knaack & Priebe. Possession was given immediately, and the two gentlemen have opened their doors for business and are well equipped to take care of the trade in the line of supplies and all kinds of repair work.”

In May 1920, William Knaack, George V. Kelley, Albert Wishlinski, William Priebe, Frank Nickodem, William Swanke, Alfred Sommerfeldt and Alfred Freiheit took the train to Detroit, where they picked up six touring cars, one sedan and one roadster for the Knaack & Priebe garage and drove them home.

Knaack sold his interest in the garage and Ford agency to E.H. Priebe in October 1922. Priebe expanded the business into 441 West Water a few years later.

Princeton Republic, August 9, 1928 – “E.H. Priebe has plans completed for an addition to the rear of his Ford service station. The specifications call for a 26 by 50 feet extension. The building will be two stories with basement under the entire new structure. The building will be of tile blocks and fireproof. Then, too, Mr. Priebe intends to improve the east wall of the present building. When fully completed the addition will afford up-to-date storage for cars and a convenient workshop.”

The Ford garage changed hands again in 1931.

Princeton Republic, March 26, 1931 – At the foreclosure sale last Monday of the E. H. Priebe Ford stock of goods, machinery, etc., Paul Weiske, Ford dealer of Montello, was the successful bidder, his bid amounting to the sum of $3,800. Mr. Weiske purchased the object in view of opening a Ford agency in this city, if arrangements can be completed.”

The former Ford operation at 435 became a service station.

Princeton Republic, April 2, 1931 – “Julius Fenske and Arnold Kelm have recently opened a service station formerly occupied by E. H. Priebe and are in position to serve your car. They have engaged the service of Arnold Shwonek, who will devote his undivided attention and time to all work entrusted to the firm.”

Fenske bought out Kelm and operated the business as Fenske’s Service Garage until 1941 when he took over the building formerly occupied as the Giese & Giese garage in the 500 block of West Main Street (near the Bank One drive-through in 2021).

Princeton Republic, May 22, 1941 – “Jule Fenske announces that he plans to be at his new location in the building formerly occupied by Giese and Giese ready for his formal opening on Memorial Day. He will continue to handle Wadham’s Mobil oil gasoline and lubricating oils and will continue to service cars. In his new quarters he will have more room to display his farm equipment lines which include Allis-Chalmers tractors, combines, etc. as well as Universal milkers, New Idea manure spreaders, Blackhawk sulkey cultivators and planters.”

Princeton Motors next occupied the former Drakes’ Garage building in conjunction with its operation at the southeast corner of Water and Washington streets.

Princeton Times-Republic, June 5, 1941 – “The Princeton Motors have leased the building formerly occupied by Fenske. They will use it for their paint and car body repair department and also for the display of Ford tractor-hauled farm machinery.”

Princeton Times-Republic, July 3, 1941 – “The Princeton Motors has completed the repainting of the building formerly occupied by Fenske’s garage, and has stocked it with a large display of Ford tractors and Ferguson farm implements. The rear portion of the building will be used for body repairing and painting.”

Princeton Motors sold the former Drake’s Garage building in 1944.

Princeton Republic, April 6, 1944 – “A deal was concluded the first of the week by I. J. Craite for the purchase of the garage building now occupied by the Princeton Motors for storage and automobile paint shop, and formerly occupied by Jule Fenske. Mr. Craite plans to remodel the building and install four bowling lanes. A thirty-foot addition will be built at the rear of the building, a modern heating and air conditioning plant installed, and a new ceiling and a modern front will also be among the improvements. It is expected that work will start on the improvements in a few weeks and that the alleys will be ready for opening about August 1st.”

The building has been a bowling alley ever since.

(For a more complete lot and building history, see the post “Lots O’ History – Water Lot 31.”)

The 1927 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the Drake’s Garage building, 435 West Water Street, and the building (two stores at the time) adjacent west that became Princeton Motors. The filling station on the southeast corner of Water and Washington streets – the city’s first – was razed in 1932. Drake’s Garage today is the Stars & Strikes bowling alley; the Princeton Motors property is Princeton Garage Antiques.

Princeton Motors

When Alfred Warnke razed the former Harmon furniture building in the 400 block of Water Street in July 1920, he told the Princeton Republic that he planned to erect a “modern and up-to-minute garage,” 40 by 80 feet, one story tall, constructed of tile with a brick front.

Warnke did not complete the building at 441 West Water, however, until 1922. Rather than a garage, the building’s first occupants were a “gents toggery” shop and a shoe store.

As E.H. Priebe was improving his garage at 435 West Water in 1928, The Dickenson Bros. purchased the building at 441 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic, July 26, 1928 – “In a deal consummated last week Friday between Mrs. Herman Warnke and Dickinson Bros, of Bloomer, Wis., the latter took over the ownership of the Warnke building now occupied by the K. Manthey gents furnishing store, C. Kinkel tailor shop and G. Radtke, cobbler. Dickinson Bros., we are informed, will arrange the building for a garage and will deal in automobiles and will take possession in the very near future.”

The Dickinsons did not last long. They and Priebe fell behind in payments and eventually lost their properties. The Chevy agency went to Lem Kalupa, and Paul Weiske, of Montello, claimed the Priebe and Dickinson locations.

Princeton Republic, Jan. 23, 1930 – “Last week in a transaction with the Dickinson Chevrolet Co., Mr. Lem Kalupa has taken over the entire interest of that company and has added the Chevrolet car to his agency. In a conversation with Mr. Kalupa he gave us the information that a fine and up-to-date garage equipped with a handsome show room will be built by him on Main street the coming spring.”

Princeton Republic, March 26, 1931 – At the foreclosure sale last Monday of the E. H. Priebe Ford stock of goods, machinery, etc., Paul Weiske, Ford dealer of Montello, was the successful bidder, his bid amounting to the sum of $3,800. Mr. Weiske purchased the object in view of opening a Ford agency in this city, if arrangements can be completed.”

Princeton Republic, June 18, 1931 – “Weiske Bros., who have secured the Ford agency for this city, are engaged in rearranging the building formerly occupied by E.H. Priebe. Partitions are being constructed and the shelving for the storing of extras are being placed. The basement of the building will be arranged for servicing cars. When fully completed, Weiske Bros., who come here from Montello, can boast of having one of the most complete garages in this section of the country.”

Princeton Republic, Oct. 1, 1931 – “Paul Weiske, the Ford garage man, will move his family here from Montello this week. They will reside in the Martin Bartol (Bartel) home, W. Main Street.”

Vincent Weiske, who had been working at a machine shop in Milwaukee, joined his brother in Princeton and took charge of the repair department. Luke Buchen was employed as the Princeton Motor Company’s accountant.

In 1932 Alfred Warnke razed the filling station at the southeast corner of Water and Washington streets and laid a cement driveway and parking lot for the Ford garage.

Paul Weiske was killed in April 1934 when the new sedan he was driving left Highway 73 on a curve about 3 miles east of Plainfield, struck a culvert and turned over. The garage passed to a brother, Anton Weiske, and in 1937 to Vincent Weiske and Luke Buchen.

Princeton Republic, March 4, 1937 – “The Princeton Motors, Ford Garage, formerly owned by Anton Weiske, of Montello, recently changed hands and is now owned by Vincent Weiske and Luke Buchen of this city. The latter two have managed the establishment for the past number of years and have enjoyed excellent business.”

Princeton Times-Republic, March 11, 1943 – “The Princeton Motors have installed a hydraulic hoist which will greatly facilitate tire inspections and also chassis lubrication.”

Princeton Motors developed a strong niche in the farm implement business handling Ford tractors and other equipment.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 28, 1946 – “The Princeton Motors was host to a meeting of tractor owners held Tuesday in their new tractor and farm machinery showrooms. The meeting was attended by 37 farmers.”

Princeton Motors moved the tractors and farm implements business, doing business as the Princeton Implement Company, to the former Fenske garage on Main Street in 1949.

In 1954, Buchen and Weiske divided their business. Buchen took the auto business and made plans to move the garage from 441 West Water to 511 West Main Street, and Weiske took the farm implement business.

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 15, 1955 – “The former Princeton Motors will henceforth be known as Buchen Motors, as the name is changed this week. Luke Buchen, head of the firm, stated that the concern will hold its formal opening of its new building on Main Street Friday, Sept. 23.

“The new building is of the newest and modern fireproof type of construction with concrete blocks and brick front,” the Times-Republic reported. “It has 102 foot frontage and is about 70 feet deep. There are 2,000 square feet for the showroom, part department and the office. … The service department has 5,000 square feet.”

Buchen passed in March 1971, about two weeks after celebrating his 34th year in business. He was 58. The business passed to his widow, Elizabeth, who sold to Robert “Bob” Meyer of Libertyville, Illinois, in October 1972.

Bob Meyer Ford held an open house in September 1973 to show off a remodeled showroom, and the former Mobil gas station on the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets was razed to create a larger outdoor display area for new and used vehicles.

The staff at that time included Meyer; Ben Swader, sales; Jerry Baumann, manager; Alfred Dahms, Jack St. Louis and Melvin Quick, mechanics; Luanne Harke and Elizabeth Buchen, bookkeepers.

My research ends in the ’70s, and I have not yet documented when Meyer departed.

Today, Gagne Ford occupies the original Buchen Motors building.

Highway 23 Garage

I don’t know when the Highway 23 Garage opened. It was located just east of the current drive-through lane of the U.S. Bank branch at 102 Pearl Street, southeast corner of Pearl and Main streets.

I believe – but have not confirmed – that the garage was started by Lem Kalupa and Philip Stelmacheski. It opened sometime between 1914 and 1927, according to the Sanborn fire insurance maps.

The first reference to it I found so far came from October 1928 when the garage was advertising Oakland-Pontiacs.

In January 1930, Kalupa bought out Stelmacheski’s interest in the garage and became the local Chevy agent by buying out the Dickinson Chevrolet Company. He changed the name of the Main Street garage to Kalupa Chevrolet Sales and Service Station.

Kalupa said he planned to build a new garage in spring but instead sold the business to Ray Thrall, Alfred Giese Jr. and Giese’s sister Winefred. The new firm was known as Giese, Thrall & Giese

“They have taken the agency of the Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oakland cars and will do all kinds of repairing pertaining to automobiles,” the Republic said.

By July 1935 Thrall was out, and the garage was Giese & Giese. The Gieses gave way in 1941 to Jule Fenske, who moved his garage there from 435 West Water Street.

Princeton Times-Republic, May 22, 1941 – “Jule Fenske announces that he plans to be at his new location in the building formerly occupied by Giese and Giese ready for his formal opening on Memorial Day. He will continue to handle Wadham’s Mobil oil gasoline and lubricating oils and will continue to service cars. In his new quarters he will have more room to display his farm equipment lines which include Allis-Chalmers tractors, combines, etc. as well as Universal milkers, New Idea manure spreaders, Blackhawk cultivators and planters.”

Princeton Motors, owned by Luke Buchen and Vince Weiske, moved the tractors and farm implements business, doing business as the Princeton Implement Company, to the former Fenske garage on Main Street in 1949. Fenske, meanwhile, moved to a service station two doors east.

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 17, 1949 – “The Princeton Implement Co., local sales agency for the famous Ford tractors, Dearborn farm equipment and other well known lines, will hold their formal opening in their new home Wednesday, February 23rd. … Their new showrooms and service shop are located in the building formerly occupied by Giese’s garage and is directly across the highway from the Giese lumber yard. … The Princeton Implement Company is the outgrowth of the farm equipment department operated in connection with the Princeton Motors, and although still under the same ownership is from now on to be conducted as a separate business, this change being made necessary by the need for more room and the constant expansion of this department.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 24, 1949 – “Over a thousand people attended the formal opening of the Princeton Implement Company’s new showrooms and shop Wednesday.

After Buchen and Weiske divided their business in 1954, Buchen took the auto business and Weiske the farm implement business. They operated side by side on Main Street for seven more years.

Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 3, 1961 – “An auction will be held this coming Saturday at the Princeton Implement firm on Main Street. In addition to a sale of implements and tools, that auction will also mark the end of 30 years in the implement business in Princeton for Vince Weiske. The auction signifies the fulfilment of Vince’s desire to leave the hurry-scurry world of competitive sales and devote more time to his favorite sport of fishing.”

The building was sold and razed, along with the frame building at the southeast corner of Pearl and Main streets, to make room for the new Farmers-Merchants National Bank and its drive-through lane in 1963-1964.

(FYI: The frame building that stood at the corner of Pearl and Main and was razed to make room for the Farmers-Merchants National Bank in 1963 was Princeton’s original fire engine house, built in 1883 on the little triangle at Water, Main and Mechanic streets, where the Visitor Center is today. The building was sold to Otto Rude who used it for his blacksmith shop at Main and Pearl.)

Weiske and his wife, Margaret, were killed in an auto crash on Highway 23 one mile west of Green Lake in November 1966.

Freitag’s Garage

The Republic teased its readers in both August 1928 and March 1929 that rumors were spreading that a new garage would be built on Main Street.

The rumors proved true. Henry Freitag, of Montello, announced plans in 1931 to build a garage at 500 West Main Street, on the site of the landmark Merrill Livery, founded in 1872. Frank Giese removed the old barn in April , and Freitag wasted no time getting started.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 29, 1931 – “A land mark in this city, the old livery barn built by F. S. Merrill and Peter Jackson nearly 60 years ago is to be demolished within the next week to make room for an automobile service station. The livery barn, a wooden structure, has been in disuse for the past number of years. Of late years the property was owned by Frank L. Giese and in a deal recently consummated Henry Freitag, of Montello, became owner of the lot. The new proprietor has completed arrangements for the construction of a fine 100×100 automobile service station and sales rooms for automobiles. Mr. Freitag informs us the building will be of either concrete or tile blocks and the front will be of red brick … A son of Mr. Freitag will be at the head of the business.”

Princeton Republic, April 23, 1931 – “Henry Freitag is preparing for the foundation of his new garage on Main Street, foot of Washington Street. The building will be 90 by 80 feet.”

Princeton Republic, April 30, 1931 – “Henry Freitag, who with a crew of ten men engaged for the past number of days in the erection of a garage on Main Street, on the site of the old livery barn, has the foundation completed and is now engaged in placing forms for the four-foot-high concrete side and rear walls. After finishing the cement work, the remainder of the walls will be of tile. The front of the building structure, however, will be of pressed red brick.”

Princeton Republic, June 25, 1931 – “Harry Freitag and crew of carpenters are engaged in building the roof of his new garage on Main Street. The iron beams of the roof were placed last week.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 28, 1943 – “Ty Freitag announces that his big modern garage is now ready to serve the public.”

Freitag hosted a reception for about 50 people at the new garage. “Movies were shown consisting mainly of a new product for automobile engines,” the Republic reported. “Later in the evening a fine repast was served by Mr. Freitag. The entertainment was held in the show room of the garage.”

H.A. Freitag & Son brought the largest tire in the world to the garage in October 1932.

I don’t have IDs of the men in suits and ties, but the locals at the right side of the photo are, from right, Ray Bartol, Aug Sauerbreit, S. Kelvine, John Lese, C. Salzwadel, Ham Megow, Walter Borzick.

“The tire is attached at the rear of a heavy sedan and is in a giant fork,” the Republic said. “The tire is 12 feet high and 4 feet wide. It weighs, including its yoke, 3,900 pounds. The tread, sidewall and bead weigh 877 pounds, and the inner tube 125 pounds. The value of the tire is $5,000. It is the fourth such tire that the Goodyear Rubber Company has manufactured. While it is used as an advertisement, the tire also is a scientific experimental laboratory. The Goodyear people are studying its construction and its behavior at all times. The day may come, they say, when such tires will be commercially produced for monstrous airplanes.”

Freitag sold the garage in May 1952 to H.J. “Red” Buelow, who owned it for about three years.

Princeton Times-Republic, April 28, 1955 – “Bob Miller, of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, formally took over the Chevrolet and Oldsmobile agency last week in Princeton. He purchased the business operated for the past three years by Herman “Red” Buelow. He will operate under business under the name Bob Miller Chevrolet. Miller has been in business in Cedarburg since his graduation from Beloit College.”

Ty Freitag, left, and Red Buebow at the Freitag Garage, 500 W. Main Street.

Robert H. Miller Jr., a former professional photographer, built a new garage on state Highway 23-73 on the east city limits in 1960, held a grand opening in March 1961 and abandoned the Main Street location. He purchased Ripon Motors in 1967.

Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 27, 1966 – “Bob Miller, local auto dealer, enjoys a hobby of photography. … Mr. Miller and his camera were at one time in the employ of some of the larger firms in the country, as well as The Milwaukee Journal and Life Magazine. … Just this past Saturday, for instance, he returned from a ten-day visit to Miami, Florida, where he spent most of the tine doing a pictorial story of the filming of a popular television series, entitled ‘Flipper.'”

Miller sold the Princeton dealership to Bill Kelly, formerly of Naperville, Illinois, in January 1970. Kelly sold to Dick Caswell, who closed the garage in late 1980 or early 1981.

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.”

Meanwhile, Giese Lumber had bought the former Freitag garage building on Main Street vacated by Miller.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 29, 1973 – “The former Freitag Garage, which is a part of the Giese lumber yard, is taking on a new look as workers put on a cedar shake roof extension in the front. Glen Giese plans to move the office and displays into this building when remodeling is completed.”

Princeton Times-Republic, July 18, 1973 – “The Giese Lumber Yard moved into its new location east of its former office on July 1. The new appearance to the former Freitag Garage is a nice addition to Main Street.”

The Princeton Lumber Company Inc. purchased the Giese lumber yard on July 1, 1976. Ron Peabody and Wes Erskin, president and secretary, respectively, of the company, also owned yards in Elkhorn and Mount Horeb.

Glen Giese became owner and operator of the Lake-Aire Supper Club in St. Germain.

Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 29, 1979 – “One of Princeton’s oldest businesses has become a victim of inflation. On Dec. 1, business will stop at the Princeton Lumber Company at 500 W. Main Street. On June 1977, King Group, Inc., of Elkhorn bought the business which was in the well-known Giese family for at least 65 years. It was first owned by Frank Giese, then by his son, Harold, and finally by Harold’s son, Glen, before the corporation purchased it. Glen, who now owns a supper club in St. Germaine, moved the business to its present location in 1973. An employee stated that the company has found it unfeasible to continue operations even though the past year saw an increase of business and a profit. Five employees will be seeking employment elsewhere. Prior to the decision to terminate the business, Ron Peadbody resigned as manager. An auction will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, to dispose of the remaining inventory.”

That is as far as I have gotten in my research. I will update as I find more information.

The remodeled garage and lumberyard building at 500 West Main Street in 2021 is home to Pulvermacher Enterprises.

The former Miller-Kelly-Caswell garage at the city limits in 2021 is an auto body shop for Gagne Ford.

Siekierka Motor Service

In 1937 Pete Siekierka purchased the Shell service station built by Julius Schalow at the east end of the Main Street bridge in 1926. Siekierka developed a garage in addition to operating the Shell station.

Princeton Times-Republic, Dec. 12, 1940 – “Pete Siekierka announces that Siekierka Motor Service has secured the local sales agency for the well known Nash line of cars.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 9, 1941 – “Mr. and Mrs. Pete Siekierka went to Milwaukee Tuesday and brought back two 1942 Nash cars. Pete says he has a waiting list of Nash buyers.”

Siekierka told the newspaper he had sold 12 Nash cars in his first year. “Considering the fact that this is new territory for Nash, this is a real achievement,” he said. “However, the Nash has made good on its reputation for economy and low cost of upkeep.”

Siekierka announced in December 1945 that he been appointed the local agent for Dodge-Plymouth cars and trucks, and in 1946 sold the Shell gas station.

Princeton Times-Republic, May 2, 1946 – “Work has started on the new addition to the Siekierka garage which will more than double the floor space and provide additional room for the display of cars.”

Princeton Times-Republic, July 18, 1946 – “Pete Siekierka extends an invitation to the public to visit his recently remodeled garage. The new addition more than doubles the floor space and not only provides ample room for showing cars but also makes it possible to handle many more cars in the service department.”

Siekierka, who served as Second Ward alderman for several years, retired in 1959.

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. A longtime citizen of Princeton, Kuehneman took over the establishment Monday, September 14. The agency handles Dodge line cars exclusively. Along with the new car sales, Kuehneman will maintain the service station as well as being D-X gasoline outlet. Besides being the new Dodge dealer in Princeton, Kuehneman operates a fleet of school buses for transporting students to St. John’s Catholic, St. John’s Lutheran and the public schools. He will maintain eight employees in the operation of his business. Sierkierka, second ward alderman, turned over the establishment to Kuehneman after successful operation for over 20 years.”

In retirement Siekierka turned his green thumb into a greenhouse business on the Bend Road.

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 8, 1962 – “Harve Kuehneman of Harve’s Dodge Sales has announced the sale of his bus lines to Adam Bednarek, route 2, Neshkoro. The change became effective February 1st. … The buses will probably be housed in the same lot next to Harve’s Dodge and will be serviced there.”

I do not yet know when Kuehneman closed the garage but will update as my research advances.

In 2021 the site is home to National Exchange Bank and Trust, 705 West Water Street.

Here are the locations of the early downtown garages: 1. Siekierka Garage, 2. Mueller Implement, 3. Grams Garage, 4. Pearl Street Garage, 5. Highway 23 Garage, 6. Fenske’s Garage, 7. Buchen Motors, 8. Freitag Garage, 9. Washington Street Garage, 10. Perry & Woehlke, 11. Princeton Motors, 12. Priebe Garage, 13. Drake Garage. No.1 and 8 are west and north of the map boundary, respectively.

The following clip is of interest only because it mentions Siekierka (whose name I have trouble spelling – I apologize) and is written with flair.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 1, 1927 – “Last Sunday, at the local base ball grounds, a game was annexed between a team composing of farm boys and a made-up team team of this city. Right from the start of the fracas it was plain that the city team was doomed to defeat. The farmer boys took the lead and maintained it at all stages of the game. Walter Frost and Walter Kuehneman did the twirling for the farmer team while Pete Siekierka wore the big mitt. The battery of the city team was composed of Albert Knoll and Herbert Wachholz and Edward Bornick on the receiving end. All connected the with the game played fine ball considering the fact that neither team had practiced. … The final result of the game was 17 to 11 in favor of the farmer team.”

As always, if you have corrections, comments or suggestions, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and caring about local history.

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