Previous posts discussed Princeton’s first drive-in gas stations and the better-known garages that sprung up to handle sales and service.
By the end of the 1920s most filling stations had become service stations. While some early garages focused primarily on auto repairs and sales, some also repaired and sold tractors and farm machinery. The earlier post about the garages, for example, showed how Princeton Motors also branched out into Princeton Implements.
Other garages provided little more than storage space during winter in the early years when cars were primarily fair-weather vehicles.
Here are more of Princeton’s early garages. My research only extends to the mid-1940s, but I’ve added other information when possible and will update as new information becomes available.
S&S Motor Service
The former Huser Daddy Antiques building, 800 State Highways 23-73, was built in 1946 and first housed the S&S Motor Service founded by Herb Swanke and Arnie Shwonek.
Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 1, 1946 – “Work is progressing rapidly on the new cement garage building being erected by Herb Swanke on the lot opposite the airport.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Dec. 5, 1946 – “The S&S Motor Service is the name of Princeton’s newest business enterprise, the garage and service station opened for business this week by Herb Swanke and Arnie Shwonek. The business occupies a modern cement block building, 90×30 feet in dimensions, located at the intersection of Highway 23 and County Trunk D, opposite the airport. Although handicapped by scarcity of many building materials and some items in equipment, they have been able to assemble a very complete plant for repairing and servicing cars, trucks, and other automotive equipment. Both Swanke and Shwonek are experienced automobile mechanics.”
Building materials were scarce in many communities after World War II. The business lasted less than two years. The building was sold at auction in May 1948 to Swanke.
Princeton Times-Republic – May 6, 1948 – “Herb Swanke, one of the former owners, was the successful bidder Saturday morning at the sale of the building and other assets of the S&S Garage. Herb is a capable automotive mechanic, experienced in car, truck and tractor repairing and servicing. … The sale was brought about through the dissolution of the partnership of Herb Swanke and Arnie Shwonek.”
Swanke closed the garage and leased the building to Ace High Bottling Company, which had been located on Short Street, in February 1950. Ace High, in turn, leased part of the building to Vance Swanson for his feed business.
Princeton Times-Republic, May 11, 1950 – “There was a near misfortune out at Swanke’s Garage, now Van Swanson’s, early this week when a weakened footing gave way and part of the building collapsed. Fortunately, no one was injured, but it will mean added expense in readying the building for Van’s feed mill.”
Swanson’s mill, operated for years as the Swanson Farm Store, held its grand opening in July 1950 with Vance and Harold Swanson in charge. Business conditions improved over the next couple of years to warrant an expansion in 1953.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 19, 1953 – “The first major business construction project in a number of years is well under way in Princeton at the Swanson Farm Store with the construction of a 30- by 40-foot concrete block building attached to the present store building. Having a full basement and first floor the building will be used for an additional mill and storage space as well as repair and storage for farm machinery. Vance Swanson, owner of the building, state that he expects to go into the farm machinery business in addition to his present feed, seed and grinding business.”
Henry O. Grams (Sr.) purchased the Last Chance saloon from Andrew Drill in March 1915 and said he planned to remove the old buildings and erect a modern two-story concrete building for a garage and machine shop with access from Water and Main streets (628 West Water or 607 West Main Street).
Princeton Republic, July 15, 1915 – “Wish to make known that the undersigned has his auto garage completed and is in position to repair autos and all kinds of machinery. All work guaranteed. Give me a call. Grams Garage.”
Grams installed a new machine for storing car batteries through the winter months. The garage also handled farm implements.
Grams sold the garage and saloon building to William Knaack in July 1916. Two years later, when he marched off to war, Knaack rented the garage to Amandus G. Tassler.
Princeton Republic, May 5, 1921 – “In a deal recently consummated between Knaack & Priebe and Henry Grams, the latter became the owner of the former’s garage, now occupied by A.G. Tassler. The new owner will take possession about August 1st. It will be remembered that Mr. Grams at one time was the owner of the property and erected the building.”
Grams added an office, facing Main Street, to the garage and machine shop in 1936, the same year Addison Berwick opened a furniture repair and upholstery shop over the garage, and remained in business for many years as Grams Welding and Machine Co.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 26, 1945 – “Henry Grams of the Grams Welding & Supply Co. announces that his firm has secured the agency for the well-known Allis-Chalmers line of farm implements.”
Henry Grams sold the property in Block C to Henrietta Clark for $5,000 in January 1964. (There is more about Grams in the earlier post titled “Lots o’ History: Block C.”)
Pearl Street Garage
I don’t know much about the garage operated by the Schaal Bros. north of their hardware store at 602 West Water Street at least into the 1920s other than that the garage sold Goodyear tires and had roadside gas pumps.
Princeton Republic, July 17, 1913 – “Eugene Whittemore is the new mechanic at the Pearl Street garage. Gene says he knows the Ford from A to Z and then some.”
Ads in the Republic in July 1924 noted there were still auto stalls for rent in the Schaal Bros. garage, but I’ve found no stories about the business closing.
Perry & Woehlke
Perry & Woehlke were early Ford dealers who set up shop at 535 West Water Street in December 1914 but disappeared from the pages of the newspaper after less than a year.
Princeton Republic, Dec. 3, 1914 – “Perry & Woehlke, the Ford automobile dealers of Markesan, Princeton and St. Marie, wish to state to the public in and around Princeton that they will be open for business in the city of Princeton on Jan. 1st, 1915, in the building two doors west of the Princeton State Bank with a full line of Ford automobiles.” (The building two doors west of the bank is the Sondalle Law Office, 535 West Water Street, in 2021.)
Princeton Republic, August 5, 1915 – “Mr. W.E. Perry is now the Ford car dealer for Markesan and Princeton. He now carries a stock of $1,200 in Ford parts. Mr. Perry will continue to have Mr. Drake of the Drake Garage take care of the Ford cars sold in the Princeton territory.”
The earlier post about gas stations mentioned that Herman Mosolf opened a filling station and garage on Highway 23 (now Canal Street) in 1923. Millerd Mosolf was the proprietor in July 1941 when the garage was appointed the local authorized dealer for the Champion, Commander and Studebaker cars.
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.”
J.F. Warnke & Sons
I know no more about this garage than this one listing in the paper:
Princeton Republic, Jan. 2, 1919 – “The new garage which has been under construction by the J.F. Warnke & Sons has been completed by contractor Wm. A Gorr and crew. The building is located on the west side and adjoins the tub factory. Carl Warnke Jr. in charge.”
Krueger & Lambrecht
The Krueger & Lambrecht implement business was located on the west side of Washington Street, about midway between Water and Main streets. They 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 built a new building in 1910 after adding autos to their offerings.
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.
Herman Weber of Mecan bought a new Ford from Krueger & Lambrecht in 1914, but Lambrecht soon departed for Ripon. He 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 remained in business for several more years, and Lambrecht returned in 1928 to temporarily help his former partner in the implement business, which by then also utilized a building on the southeast corner of Washington and Main streets.
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.”
The former Krueger & Lambrecht site was razed in 1955 when Luke Buchen built a new home for the former Princeton Motors’ Ford garage on Main Street. It is now part of the Gagne Ford parking lot.
Mueller Implement Company
The history of the Mueller Implement Company goes as far back as December 1869 when wagonmaker Gottlieb Luedtke got a patent for an axle gauge. Luedtke built a two-story wagon shop at 637 West Water Street. After it burned in 1873, Luedtke built a two-story stone block on the same site, which was adjacent to the Tagatz blacksmith property.
Luedtke manufactured wagons, buggies, carriages and surreys.
Meanwhile, Gottlieb J. Krueger, longtime merchant president of the First National Bank of Princeton, was looking for a new partner in the dry goods business to replace J.F. Warnke. Krueger teamed up with former employee Erich Mueller to form Krueger & Mueller in 1888.
Princeton Republic, Feb. 12, 1903 – “Krueger & Mueller have dissolved partnership, and G.A. Krueger will hereafter conduct the business alone. Mr. Mueller will go in business with (Village) President Luedtke.”
While Luedtke focused on buggies, carriages and surreys, Mueller sold Singer sewing machines, organs, pianos, washing machines and gasoline engines. When B.J. Oelke bought a three-horsepower Fuller & Johnson gasoline engine for his meat market in March 1905, Mueller handled the sale and installation.
Mueller married Luedtke’s daughter, and after Luedtke passed away from a heart attack in 1914, Mueller took full control of the family business. He also served multiple terms as village president and won the first mayoral election when Princeton became a city in 1920. He served as president of a local bank and sat on most major boards in the community. Plus, for a time he owned much of the “crooked end” of Water Street, having purchased the former Gardner Green buildings with a frontage of 175 feet.
Mueller’s inventory changed with the times. In April 1909, his inventory included buggies, cream separators, pianos and sewing machines.
Princeton Republic, May 13, 1915 – “Notice: We have received two more of the powerful Sphinx cars and are ready to demonstrate the same to you. Do not buy before you have enjoyed a ride in this easy riding car. Erich Mueller.”
Mueller over the years also sold Essex, Oldsmobile, Maxwell and other makes of cars but not at high volume.
Mueller’s ad in the Republic in June 1915 advertised “automobiles, Singer sewing machines, DeLaval separators, gas engines, Defiance tires, pure copper cable, lightning rods, corn planters, corn cultivators, Oliver gangs, Oliver walking plows, lawn mowers, lawn swings.” He also operated the Princeton Piano Store.
By January 1920 Mueller was handling the International Harvester line of farm equipment, including the McCormick, Deering and Milwaukee Grain, Hay, Corn and Tillage machines. His general line consisted of gas and kerosene engines, grain drills, feed cutters, feed grinders, I.H.C. and New Racine threshing machines, Titan tractors, corn shredders, binder twine, and more, or as an ad stated, “a complete line running from sewing machine needles up to Titan tractors is always in stock.”
Princeton Republic, July 14, 1921 – “Last Tuesday at the local Opera House farmers and citizens, through the efforts of dealer Erich Mueller, were accorded a rare treat when the James Barn Equipment Co., of Fort Atkinson, demonstrated their product by moving picture show. Their representative was present and gave an excellent speech on cooperation among farmers, on the care of cows and the arrangement of the barn.”
Mueller announced in January 1924 that he was changing his business name from Erich Mueller to Erich Mueller & Co. He also added the Radiola line of radios to his line of pianos and organs.
Princeton Republic, June 22, 1933 – “Erich Mueller is erecting a solid concrete building on the west end of his lot which will be used for the housing of farm implements and tools.”
The newspaper reported in February 1942 that Mueller had been in the implement business for 40 years and in the mercantile business for 14 years before that.
Erich Mueller passed away in July 1945 at the age of 82. His obituary stated that he became associated with the implement business some time after his marriage to Gottlieb Luedtke’s daughter and sole owner 43 years ago.
Henry Manthei, Mueller’s son-in-law, bought the business in August and continued to operate it under the name of the Mueller Implement Co. He said he would make several improvements, including a new display room, an extension of warehouse facilities and the addition of a service department for tractors and farm machinery.
Arnold and Robert Manthei took over the business in 1960 and sold it in 1968 to the Fredrick Equipment Company. At the time it was the oldest Harvester dealership in Wisconsin, according to the Princeton quas qui centennial booklet published in 1973. The building is currently being used for storage.
Although Art Dreblow did not sell autos at the implement company that he opened at 631 South Fulton Street (a daycare center in 2021), near the intersection of County Road D and state highways 23-73, in 1948, I’ve added the firm here because he eventually also tried the gas business … and because I got a kick out of the Marj Mlodzik appearance in the final paragraph!
Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 2, 1947 – “Art Dreblow is making progress on his new farm implement warehouse being erected south of the NYA building.”
Dreblow celebrated “John Deere Day” at a formal grand opening in March 1948. He said the building represented “the latest ideas I modern design and construction” with huge plate glass show windows and floor space of some 2,400 square feet. “Art Dreblow is to be congratulated on giving Princeton its most modern business structure,” the newspaper said.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 3, 1949 – “Our good friend, Fred Kannenberg, had a rather exciting experience Tuesday evening. While on his way home after closing his store he heard the drone of a plane, apparently flying quite low over the city and then he heard a voice and an exclamation about someone falling out. Figuring the plane was about to make a forced landing, Fred drove out to the airport only to discover that sounds were coming from the outdoor movie at Dreblow’s Implement store.”
Dreblow installed two large gas storage tanks in May 1951 with plans to go into the cut-rate gasoline business there in June. In July the Dreblows announced plans to consolidate their appliance business at 624 West Water and implement business under one roof. The move was celebrated with another open house in November.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 8, 1951 – “It was open house at Dreblow’s this week and many were the visitors to the new combination appliance and implement shop at the east edge of Princeton. In the midst of preparations for the big event, the two proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Art Dreblow, had to take time out to announce the news of a new son in the family (Danny), but the open house went on as usual. The affair closes on Sunday evening, the 11th.”
Mrs. Mark (Marjorie) Mlodzik won first prize and a new Speed Queen iron in a poetry contest held as part of the open house:
“I would like to iron with the Speed Queen ironer because …
My feet wouldn’t hurt, and my back wouldn’t ache,
and I’d have enough time left to whip up a cake.
My clothes would be stacked up smooth, neat and clean,
all because Dreblow is selling Speed Queen.”