The Teske brothers, Edward and Gustav, played key roles in the development of early Princeton. Both were involved in the local business and political scene for nearly 50 years, and the business they founded in the 1860s remained a family operation into the 1960s.
At one point, the brothers owned at least four business lots on the north side of the 500 block of Water Street. They had boot and shops at both 514 and 528 at different times and purchased the property at 520 Water in 1867 and the lot and building at 518 Water one year later. When most local historians discuss the Teske store, they are referring to the brick building, built in 1872, at 518 West Water St.
We’ll start first, however, as the Teskes did, with the property that today includes 520-522 West Water Street. It is referred to by local historians as both the (Fred) Mittlestaedt building and (Andrew) Drill building. Mittlestaedt built the building; Drill operated a saloon there for several years.
After securing the land patent for what would become Princeton’s original plat in June 1849, Henry Treat sold Lot 5, Block D, to Thomas Sargent shortly after returning from the land office in Green Bay.
Sargent sold to Charles Stacy in May 1851. The property was divided and changed hands multiple times over the next decade – owners included Rudolphus and Margaret Heath, Charles Bradley, Joseph Fish, William Metcalf, and Jerome Fisher.
Fisher sold the lot to George H. “Hiram” Loomis for $88 in January 1862 (Deeds, Volume 27, Page 626).
I believe Loomis operated a meat market in the building before selling the property to the Teskes in July 1867 (Deeds, Volume 28, Page 444) for $480.
Princeton Republic, August 1, 1867 – “Hiram Loomis has sold his building on Water Street to Teske Bros. who will move over their stock of goods at once.”
(As best I can tell, Loomis moved his market to his brother’s building one door west.)
(In 1868 the Teskes bought the property next door east – 518 West Water Street – from Richard Tucker. They sold the building, which was moved to the riverfront behind Gottlieb Luedtke’s wagon shop at the end of Water Street, and built a new brick block in 1872. We will cover that building/lot history in another post.)
The Teskes sold their first building, the former Loomis property at 520, along with a second parcel (514), to Frederick Mittlestaedt for $2,100 in May 1886 (Deeds, Volume 48, Page 158).
Working with Gustave Krueger, who was building a new brick block next door west for his meat market, Mittlestaedt replaced the building at 520 a few months later but only after considering a less expensive option.
Princeton Republic, March 18, 1886 – “Fred Mittlestaedt will probably not build entirely new at present. He is now thinking of moving the old building back, just west of Teske’s block, so it will be even, and fix it over by putting in a new and good looking front and adding on enough in the rear to make it convenient for a store or any other purpose that may be desired. He will fix it up in good shape.”
Ultimately, however, Mittlestaedt moved the old building and rebuilt with brick.
Princeton Republic, May 27, 1886 – “Mr. Hadrich commenced laying brick on the Krueger and Mittlestaedt block this morning.”
Princeton Republic, Aug. 5, 1886 – “The Krueger and Mittlestaedt block is fast approaching completion. The inside work is being pushed and the fine building will soon be ready for occupancy.”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 16, 1886 – “Fred Mittlestaedt is putting the finishing touches to his new building. From cellar to garret, it is a model of neatness. Gus Zierke and Fred Stearns are doing the artistic work with the brush. Fred’s building adds great value to the appearance of the street and is an improvement that meets with the approval of every person interested in the village. It is a substantial improvement, neat in its design, everything about it showing taste and a commendable pride in its appearance.”
Princeton Republic, June 25, 1891 – “The fine decorating work in Fred Mittlestaedt’s saloon is completed. The McAssey Bros. done the work.”
Mittlestaedt sold the building at 520 West Water to Carl Barthol (Bartol) in January 1903 for $5,000 (Deeds, Volume 61, Page 74), and the village board transferred Mittlestaedt’s liquor license to Bartol in March.
Bartol operated the saloon there until he passed away in October 1906.
Bartol’s heirs sold the bar to Andrew Drill, who sold his saloon at the lower end of Water Street a year later. Drill operated the bar at 520 West Water until he passed away in April 1930 at age 66. A son, Victor, operated the saloon for several more years before dentist Joseph Drill, Andew’s other surviving son, purchased the building in 1940.
Andrew and Pelagia (Shurpit) Drill had lost two sons years earlier.
Corporal Edward Drill, 18, was killed in battle in France in 1918 during World War I.
Alex Drill, 26, who graduated from the Marquette University medical school in 1916 and also served in the war, died in December 1921 when the car he was driving collided with a streetcar in Milwaukee. Drill and two of his three passengers, including his fiancée, nurse Edith Bruns, were killed instantly.
“Seldom has it been our duty to record a sudden death,” the Republic mourned. “A dark gloom spread over the whole community when the message came here last Monday announcing the sudden death of Dr. Alexander Drill, which occurred in Milwaukee on Sunday evening. Wherever the message touched it left sorrow, and the expressions of sympathy for the bereaved ones were many and from the heart.”
Joe and Vic Drill also attended Marquette University.
Joe went into dentistry and following graduation worked with an Oshkosh dentist who specialized in extracting teeth under local and gas anesthesia, X-ray work and straightening of teeth. Joe moved to Princeton in 1926, renting space above the Breity Drug Store for his practice.
Three years after his mother passed, Joseph Drill purchased the property in 1940 and located his dentist office on the second floor. (Pelagia Shurpit Drill was the last surviving World War I Gold Star Mother of Princeton.)
Victor Drill, meanwhile, started a beer distribution business in 1947. The Republic said he would “handle Gettelman’s famous $1,000 beer and the equally well-known Fox-Head 400 beer.”
I have just started looking into the 1940s, but it appears the tavern changed hands multiple times in the decade.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 4, 1940 – “Freddie Bartol has purchased the Drill tavern and opened it for business Wednesday. Freddie is well known throughout the section and should make a success of his new venture. He will be assisted by his wife. Extensive improvements, including the installation of booths, is planned.”
Ray’s Place, operated by Ray Winiecki, was in “Drill’s old stand” in 1943, and Walter Weiske moved in two years later.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 15, 1945 – “Walter Wieske announces the grand opening of Weiske’s Center Tavern (formerly Drill’s) will be held Saturday, November 17th. Mr. Weiske, who is a former Princetonian and has many friends here who will, no doubt, be on hand to give him a good sendoff on opening day.”
My research does not extend any further than 1945 at this time, so if you can help fill in any of the missing occupants of 520 West Water Street, please let me know.
According to the City of Princeton Historical Walking Tour, “in the 1960s Ed Mack started selling TV’s there. Later Jim Tans and Fred Nagorny added an appliance line.”
My research has not extended far enough to verify or supplement that information, and the walking tour has not been updated in quite some time. Local historian Joe Wyse recently reminded me that the building, when vacant, was a popular site for bake sales and other fundraisers. “If there was something like a 4-H club bake sale, it was held ‘at the Drill building,'” he recalls.
In recent years the building housed the Water Street Gallery (Steve and Jean Plout), which opened in 2002 and closed in 2019, and Shiloh gallery and gifts, which closed in December 2020.
Thanks for caring and reading about local history.