Lots o’ History – Block D, Lot 8 (502-504 West Water)

These two buildings comprise the east half of Lot 8 in Block D. Two wood frame buildings erected in the 1850s were replaced by the brick buildings in the 20th century.

Today we’re tracing the history of another of Princeton’s choice corner lots on Water Street, specifically the east half of Lot 8, Block D – today home to the ThedaCare clinic (502 West Water Street) in a brick building erected by Ernest Hiestand in 1955-56 and the Pizza Factory (504 West Water Street) in a brick building finished by Herman Warnke in 1909.

This half of the lot originally was home to the fifth* and seventh commercial buildings erected shortly after Princeton was founded in 1848.

Local historians know the corner lot as “Treat’s corner” or the Lichtenberg Drug Store. It was Princeton True-Value Hardware when my dad worked there in the 1950s-60s.

Treat’s corner

Lot 8 was part of the earliest land sale I’ve found after Henry Treat purchased what became the original plat of Princeton from the federal government in June 1849. Thomas Sargent paid Treat $110.25 for Lots 5 and 8 in Block D, Water Lot 29 across Water Street from Lot 8, and an additional 25 acres, more or less (Deeds, Volume B, Page 186).

Sargent sold Lots 5 and 8 and property in Dartford to Charles E. Stacy in May 1851 (Deeds, Volume D, Page 286) for $315. Stacy, a carpenter who helped build Princeton’s first store at 527 West Water Street and was killed fighting for the Union during the Civil War, sold the east half of Lot 8 to Chapin Hall for $50 in May 1851 (Deeds, Volume D, Page 283).

And that’s where it gets interesting. The new owners from New York built a new store named, quite ingeniously, the New York Store.

We pick up the following information regarding Princeton’s fifth building* from the history of Princeton published by the Princeton Republic in 1869:

“The same season (’50) Davis H. Waite, now a successful lawyer of Jamestown, New York, in company with Chapin Hall, now a wealthy lumber merchant of the same place, brought a large stock of general merchandise, up Fox river, being the first ever brought to this place by water. They were towed up the river by the steamer John Mitchell. This firm had just completed the storeroom now owned by R.C. Treat and occupied by Treat and Demell on the northwest corner of Water and Washington streets, in which they put their new stock of goods, where they continued in successful business some years, when A.G. Hopkins purchased Hall’s interest in the concern. Wait and Hopkins continued in business about two years, when the latter bought out the interest of the former. Waite, having already bought the hotel, now the Jarvis House, went to keeping tavern. Hopkins did a good trade for a year or more, when his health failing, he closed out, and Waite, who had a few months before got another stock and was trading in a little store near McIntyre’s blacksmith shop, removed to the old corner. He remained there until he went into his new store across the street.

“Rawson & Bro. next occupied the store for about a year, when the building was sold by Waite & Hopkins to C.L. Dewey, and afterwards by him to R.C. Treat, who put in a stock of drugs, dry goods, and groceries, continuing in trade until 1865 when F.A. Wilde became a partner. Late in the fall of 1866, Wilde & McClurg bought out Treat, and dealt almost exclusively in drugs at the corner store until last October when they moved into the new stone store on the northeast corner of Water and Pearl streets.”

(Waite served as the eighth governor of Colorado from 1893-1895.)

The property deeds tell the same story:

Deeds, Volume E, Page 582 – Chapin Hall to Albert G. Hopkins. June 30, 1852. $350. Undivided one half of the east half of lot 8 in block D and undivided half of the store thereon known as the New York Store.

Deeds, Volume N, Page 309 – Albert Hopkins and Davis Waite to Samuel G Dewey. June 2, 1857. $1,000. 23 feet on east half of lot 8, that part of said lot now occupied by the New York Store. Also, a corner of the northwest part of the east half of said lot 8, two rods north and south by 18.5 feet east and west adjoining the 23-foot strip.

Deeds, Volume T, Page 10 – Nov. 15, 1859. Samuel Dewey to Royal Treat. $1,100. 23 feet front on the east half of lot 8 now occupied by the New York Store, also a corner on the northwest part of the east half of lot 8 … adjoining the 23 feet.

After Wilde and John McClurg moved their drug store to the stone building built in 1868 at 544 West Water Street, Wilde purchased Treat’s corner for $1,400 in January 1870 (Deeds, Volume 33, Page 480).

Wilde served as school board treasurer for a time, dealt in grain, worked for a company that mined silver in Colorado and then moved to Ripon. His daughter, Niva, married future U.S. Congressman James H. Davidson, who practiced law in Princeton for about five years before moving to Oshkosh and launching his political career.

Wilde sold his drug business to Richard and Gustav Mueller in May 1875 and the corner store to Elmer Morse for $1,400 in October 1877 (Deeds, Volume 37, Page 461).

Morse operated a restaurant and ice cream parlor for a time: “Our friend and townsman E.D. Morse has opened a restaurant in the corner rooms just west of the hotel, known as Treat’s old stand. Elmer will keep a first-class institution. He has fitted up in good style and proposes to keep a nice, clean place, where ladies and gentlemen may lunch on oysters, pigs’ feet, canned fruits and confectionary, cakes, coffee, etc.

Morse rented space to Warnke Bros. in 1877.

Princeton Republic, July 14, 1877 – “Warnke Bros. expect to get into their new block on the Morse corner next week.”

Princeton Republic, Jan. 29, 1880 – “A good many people were surprised on Tuesday morning to hear that the store of Warnke Bro’s had been closed by the sheriff. We understand that the firm owe about $9,000, $2,450 of which is to one Mott, a brother-in-law, and $1,000 to Julius Warnke. Several Milwaukee parties interested have been looking over matters, but the result is not known. At forced sale the stock of goods will not realize more than one fourth of the indebtedness.”

The stock was sold for a little over $4,000, with Charles Low, of Marquette, settling the claims. John F. Warnke returned from Minnesota to help arrange the business of the old firm of Warnke Bros.

The Warnkes’ misfortune turned into good fortune for Otto Lichtenberg, who deserved a break. Lichtenberg’s drug store, housed in the west room of the Hubbard House building on the southeast corner of Water and Washington streets, had burned along with 10 other buildings on the south side of Water and Short streets in April 1880.

Most of Lichtenberg’s stock was saved, according to the newspaper, although in a damaged condition. He had an insurance on stock of $1,500.

Lichtenberg, who had joined Dr. L.W. DeVoe in the drug business in Princeton in 1878, moved into Morse’s building that summer. Morse repainted the building and overhauled his grain scales at the corner in 1883. He also built a large barn at the southwest corner of Washington and Main streets.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 13, 1883 – “E.D. Morse has recently purchased the lot north of his corner of S.A. Hake. The old barn, which has been in a dilapidated condition for years, is being torn down and moved off. Elmer has commenced the erection of a commodious barn on the corner opposite the livery stable, which will materially improve the recently purchased lot.”

Princeton Republic, April 24, 1884 – “The largest real estate transaction that has taken place here in some time was closed yesterday. E. D. Morse sold the corner block, occupied by O.H. Lichtenberg, druggist, and Aug. Zauft, saloonist, the property extending back to Main Street to Herman Warnke, the consideration being $4.900. Good business property is in demand here in Princeton.”

Lichtenberg made a series of improvements to the building after purchasing it from Warnke.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 30, 1886 – “Otto Lichtenberg has been renovating and repainting the inside of his establishment until it looks like a new drug store.”

Princeton Republic, Oct. 28, 1886 – “A new floor has been laid at Otto Lichtenberg’s drug store.”

Princeton Republic, May 31, 1888 – “O.H. Lichtenberg has put up a splendid awning in front of his place of business.”

Princeton Republic, Aug. 23, 1888 – “O.H. Lichtenberg has recently placed one of the best make of safes in his store he can secure. It is of the Mosler, Brown & Co.’s make. It is a neat one, warranted fireproof under all emergencies.”

Princeton Republic, July 16, 1891 – “O.H. Lichtenberg is having that corner drug store repainted, and his business lettered in conspicuous letters. The work is being done by the McAssey Bros.”

When Lichtenberg welcomed his parents to Princeton in 1889, he had not seen them in 18 years.

This photo, circa early 1900s, shows the Lichtenberg drug store, second from right, at the northwest corner of Water and Washington streets and provides a glimpse of the Warnke saloon next door. Both frame buildings were erected in the early 1850s.

Lichtenberg was an outdoors enthusiast and original member of the Princeton Hunting Club that build a club house on Puckaway Lake in 1890. According to the newspaper, Lichtenberg and Carl Bartol “went over beyond Neshkoro last Saturday and whipped the trout streams until they had strung 126 of the speckled beauties” in May 1894, and Lichtenberg “while out on the lake hunting last week shot a large bald-headed eagle which measured 64 inches from tip to tip” in 1912. The bird was mounted and exhibited in the drugstore window.

Princeton Republic, July 6, 1916 – “Mr. O.H. Lichtenberg who has been in the drug business for the past forty years, on last Saturday completed a deal whereby his son Oscar assumed the ownership of the entire stock. Oscar has been in the same business for the past number of years and has gained a wide experience and is well versed in every phase of the drug line.”

Otto H. Lichtenberg died in November 1918 when he was accidentally shot while hunting near Wautoma. The bullet pierced his aorta.

Oscar Lichtenberg continued the family drug business for several more years. I have not checked deeds from that point, but the Princeton Times-Republic guides us through the changes after World War II:

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 18, 1945 – “We understand the Handcraft company has purchased the Lichtenberg drug store building.”

Princeton Times-Republic, October 10, 1946 – “The Lichtenberg building, owned by E.L. Hiestand, and one of Princeton’s old landmarks, is being completely redecorated and modernized, and will be occupied by D.J. Volpel with a complete line of young people’s wear and some items in women’s furnishings (Vel-Del Shop). Mr. Volpel, who operates Volpel’s Variety Store and Volpel’s Electric Shop, is certainly contributing his share toward making Princeton a more attractive shopping center.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 21, 1946 – “Mr. and Mrs. D.J. Volpel announce the opening of their new store, the Vel-Del Shop, to take place Saturday, November 23rd. Painters, carpenters and electricians have been busy the past few weeks remodeling and redecorating the hold Lichtenberg drug store and now with fixtures, all bright with new white paint and a modern fluorescent lighting system the store is a model of perfecting lighting and neatness.”

I have not yet documented when the Volpel appliance store moved from the former Commercial Hotel building (534 West Water) to the corner lot, but we know it happened by May 1947.

Princeton Times-Republic, Dec. 19, 1946 – “That new Westinghouse electric sign in front of the Volpel Electric Shop helps to brighten up the business district.”

Princeton Times-Republic, May 1, 1947 – “The Wilsey furniture store has moved to its new location in the building formerly occupied by the Volpel’s Electric Shop.”

The old building built in the 1850s suffered two fires in the 1950s.

 Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 31, 1950 – “A fire and explosion of undetermined origin broke out in the rear of the Volpel Gas and Appliance store building Wednesday evening about 7 p.m. There was no gas in the building. Alert action by Jake Dugenske who was passing the building at the time got the fire trucks there in a hurry. Lloyd Marquardt and ‘Bib’ Giese were first there with fire extinguishers from the Handcraft Company across the street. The explosion blew the window out of the back of the store and caused some damage to the building around the door and near the corner of the rear part of the store. The quick work of the fire department and others made short work of the fire.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 14, 1950 – “Sale of the Volpel Gas and Appliance store was completed early this week, Charles Volpel, former owner, announced today. The new owner is Jack Dutton, partner in the Princeton Hardware and Supply Store. Present plans call for continuing the Westinghouse dealership and Shellane gas business at the Princeton Hardware store. The remaining appliances will be moved to the hardware store before the end of the month, Dutton announced. Volpel is now employed part-time at the Handcraft Company in the accounting department and plans to become a full-time employee with the firm.”

Princeton Times-Republic, March 1, 1951 – “E.L. Hiestand announced today that the Coast-to-Coast Store Central Organization, Inc., with headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn., have leased the building which formerly housed the Volpel Gas and Appliance Store. Operators of the new combination hardware and automotive supply business will be Mr. and Mrs. Laurence MacDonald of Lanesboro, Minnesota. … They expect to open the store on April 1st.”

The Coast-to-Coast store changed hands in 1954.

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 24, 1954 – “Hollis Thayer, formerly of Winona, Minn., and a native of northern Wisconsin, announced today the purchase of the Coast-to-Coast store in Princeton from the former owner, L.M. MacDonald.”

(Meanwhile, Princeton Hardware at 536 West Water had changed hands in October 1952 when Jack Dutton and Steve Paradowski turned over the keys to Vernon Jackson and Leo Oestreich.)

The “fire fiend,” a term used often by the Princeton Republic in the 19th century, returned in the dead of winter in 1955.

Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 27, 1955 – “A fire of yet undetermined origin came near to destroying one of the landmarks of Princeton’s business community on Friday morning. The fire, starting in the rear of the Coast-to-Coast store building on Water street, spread to other parts of the building and the second-floor apartment occupied by the Charles Fuller family. The blaze was brought under control shortly before noon by the combined efforts of the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department and the Montello Fire Department. The first alarm was turned in by Mrs. Fuller shortly after 10 a.m. when she returned home from shopping to discover smoke entering her kitchen from the back part of the building. … The smoke and excitement drew a large crowd of onlookers as the local department laid lines from two hydrants to get water to the heart of the blaze. The Montello department set their pumper at the foot of the street near the bank and pumped river water to their hoses at the front of the building. Others worked from the top of the building which stands next to the Coast-to-Coast building. No accurate estimate is available as to the loss in the fire, but it is very possible that the total loss will exceed $15,000. Hollis Thayer, proprietor of the Coast-to-Coast store, stated that his stock would be sold to a salvage firm in Chicago and that at present he had no definite plans.”

Building owner Ernest Hiestand, founder of Handcraft Corporation, the city’s largest employer at the time, was on vacation when the fire occurred. He decided a few months later to rebuild. As workers removed the remains of the building Hall and Waite had built in 1850, Hiestand said he had never seen a building that used split boards for laths and square steel cut nails.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 8, 1956 – “Excavation has begun for the new building which will be leased to the Princeton Hardware and Supply company. E.L. Hiestand, owner, reports that Harold Giese is the contractor and local labor will be hired. … The building, which will be about 25 x 115 will be modern in style, single story with a full basement. … Leo Oestreich of the hardware company stated that semi-self service, which is quite new in this area, will be used in the store.”

Oestreich and Jackson moved Princeton Hardware to the former Coast-to-Coast site in 1956, hired an amazing clerk in Harold Bartel (yes, my dad) and operated the business into at least the 1970s.

Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 23, 1956 – “The Princeton Hardware and Supply moved into their new quarters Tuesday evening and are now open for business. The new building, known as the Hiestand building, is of a very modern design. The inside of the store is beautifully decorated and lighted. … Herman Megow, well known retired butcher, helped Princeton Hardware and Supply move to their new location after helping to move G.G. Knaack from where the present Sherer’s store is (525 West Water) to the former location of the Princeton Hardware and Supply (536 West Water) some 40 years ago. According to the contest rules in regard to the first cash register sale in the new store as exactly 21 seconds past 9 o’clock Wednesday morning, Aug. 22, Art Oelke of Princeton made the first purchase.”

Oestreich and Jackson sold the business in 1973.

Princeton Times-Republic, June 21, 1973 – “On June 1, Keith Sengstock, 29, took over ownership of Princeton Hardware and Supply from former owners Leo Oestreich and Vernon Jackson. Mr. Sengstock was born in Appleton. Before coming to Princeton, he worked in Milwaukee for several companies doing service work. … Leo Oestreich plans to ‘just relax for awhile.’ He has been in the hardware business for about 37 years and since 1952, he and Vernon Jackson owned Princeton Hardware and Supply.”

I will update the building history as my research progresses beyond the 1970s.

Here’s one other note of interest about Treat’s corner. I believe it was the site of our first phone booth and emergency phone. 😊

Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 10, 1950 – “Well what do you know, there’s a new building in town. I didn’t know about. It’s so small I couldn’t find it at first, but for your information there is a new public telephone downtown. It’s a little two-by-four building in back of Volpel’s Gas and Appliance Store.”

Princeton Republic, Nov. 9, 1950 – “The Wisconsin Telephone Company installed the outside telephone authorized by the common council on Tuesday. The new phone is located on the side of the former Volpel Appliance Store building near the present pay phone station. The phone will be used by the police for emergency calls and will be connected to an emergency light placed on a goose-neck fixture on the front of the building so that it can be seen from several vantage points by the officer on duty. … Thus, when the light is on the policeman on duty will know that he is wanted on the phone. The light stays on until he answers the phone. This should help our police department to do a better job of protection and be valuable in case of fires and emergencies of other sorts.”

Warnke Building | Pizza Factory

The slice of Lot 8 that is home to the Pizza Factory at 504 West Water Street is sometimes described as the middle part of the lot. It became home to the seventh store built in the young community of Princeton.

Here’s what we learn from the history of Princeton published by the Princeton Republic in 1869:

“The seventh store was put up by A.G. Hopkins, just east of the bridge, in the season of 1851 and was stocked with dry goods by Ticknor & Clark, who did a slashing business some six months, then closed out to creditors, the lawyers of the county coming in for large fees for services (?) taking pay in muskrat caps and cassimere pants. The building was afterwards moved up on Water Street and sold by Hopkins, who used it as a saloon some three years, then sold it to Christopher Maulick, who now occupies it as residence and saloon.”

Maulick served as first lieutenant of a German military company that organized in the village in 1868 and in the Schuetzen Verein. Maulick and his wife were the only German representatives at the local Pioneer Festival in February 1878. He retired from the saloon business in spring 1880 and died in February 1881.

Property records show that the parcel was part of the property Charles Stacy sold to Josiah Luce in May 1851 for $150 and Luce sold to Walter Clark in November 1858 for $50 (Deeds, Volume E, Page 274).

Hopkins’ store mentioned above arrived before he sold the 18.5-foot lot to Warner for $560 in January 1862 (Deeds, Volume 22, Page 402). Maulick paid $625 for the lot in July 1867 (Deeds, Volume 31, Page 600) and sold his saloon/residence for $1,800 to Julius E. Hennig (Deeds, Volume 38, Page 504).

Hennig told the newspaper he was going to add sixty feet of brick building to the rear of the saloon. He didn’t. Instead, he sold to Elmer Morse for $1,500 in May 1881 (Deeds, Volume 41, Page 192). Hennig did, however, at least get in a new table.

Princeton Republic, May 19, 1881 – “A new billiard table has just been put in Hennig’s saloon.”

August Stolp and August Zauft also each operated a saloon in the old building for a short time.

Princeton Republic, April 24, 1884 – “The largest real estate transaction that has taken place here in some time was closed yesterday. E. D. Morse sold the corner block, occupied by O.H. Lichtenberg, druggist, and Aug. Zauft, saloonist, the property extending back to Main Street to Herman Warnke, the consideration being $4.900. Good business property is in demand here in Princeton.”

Samuel Corenke owned the property for a couple of years but sold it back to Warnke for $2,180 in February 1888 (Deeds, Volume 55, Page 197).

Princeton Republic, Feb. 9, 1888 – “Herman Warnke has repurchased the property just west of O.H. Lichtenberg’s, which he sold to Sam Corenke some time since. Herman will run the saloon as of yore.”

He finally replaced the building built in 1851 that had occupied the lot since 1862 in 1909.

Princeton Republic, Sept. 16, 1909 – “Mr. Herman Warnke’s building, which has been in course of construction since last July, is so far completed that the first floor will be occupied as a saloon for German Day. Mr. Warnke has lately purchased bar fixtures which will be installed in the near future. The building and saloon when all completed will be one of the finest in the city. The saloon will be managed by Emil Schultz.”

Warnke played an important role in the Princeton business community. He owned a lumberyard for several years, served multiple terms as village president, sat on boards of local organizations and transformed the former Schuetzen Park at the west end of South Street into Warnke Park. He bought and sold multiple properties on Water Street over the years.

In 1895 he challenged the village ordinance of saloons closing at 11 p.m. He refused to pay the $5 fine.

The building remained in the family’s hands following Herman’s death in 1923.

Princeton Republic, March 19, 1931 – “Dr. L. Priske, of Milwaukee, son of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Priske, this city, was a recent arrival and will make Princeton his future home, practicing dentistry. He has secured the upper flat of the Mrs. Herman Warnke building, now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Radtke, which he will use for his office, also living quarters. The doctor will have his opening day on April 1st at which time his family will arrive from Milwaukee. He is a graduate from the Marquette University, Milwaukee, and has had several years’ experience in dentistry.”

Princeton Republic, April 9, 1931 – “Dr. L. Priske, on last Monday, opened his dental parlor in the Mrs. Herman Warnke building, second floor, west of the O.H. Lichtenberg drug store.”

The first floor, meanwhile, housed a soft drink parlor and pool hall during prohibition before returning to its saloon roots.

Princeton Republic, June 22, 1933 – “Alfred Warnke is busily engaged in remodeling and embellishing the Herman Warnke building on Water street, formerly occupied by Bornick. Alfred will use the building when fully completed for a fine beer garden and ice cream parlor, as well as serving lunches. He expects to have it fully completed by July 1.”

New owner Eddie Sebert continued lunches at the former Warnke’s Tavern in August 1944 and settled in for a 10-year stay.

Princeton Times-Republic, May 20, 1954 – “Eddie Sebert announced today that he would move his bar to the building which now houses Tassler’s Bar on July 1 of this year. He made application to the city clerk Monday for the change of address. No information is available at this time about the leasing of the Warnke building where Sebert’s Bar has been located for a number of years.”

Phil Norman, editor of the Times-Republic, suggested “with the move of Sebert’s Tavern across the street that leaves a building vacant and the possibility of one less tavern in the community. In line with the state statute it seems like now would be a good time to just up and forget about re-licensing another tavern. While this might seem to work a hardship on Al Warnke, the owner of the building, in the long run we believe it would be better for him and better for the community. Give your alderman your ideas on the subject.”

Gus and Bob Wobschal filled the space vacated by Sebert with Gus ‘n Bob’s Bar in July 1954.

The Warnke building at 504 was home to a “beer bar” in 1959 when Wisconsin residents could drink beer at 18 but could not buy “hard alcohol” until age 21.

Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 8, 1959 – “Final action by the Princeton City Council, Tuesday night gave Sid Kautzer, operator of Kautzer’s Crying Towel, permission to retain his Class D liquor license but only operate his Class B beer license. Kautzer stated at the council meeting that all liquor and wine coming under the Class D license will have been removed from the building by the time of the Saturday opening for 18-year-olds.”

Kautzer changed the name of his bar to the Juke Box Inn and in 1969 put on a new front.

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 25, 1969 – “The Juke Box Inn has a new front which adds greatly to the appearance of the downtown area. … Another improvement in the downtown area is the new front on the Steve & Marge Bar.”

This concludes my research into the first 120 years of Water Street (1848-1968). I will provide updates as my research progresses.

Today the building at 504 West Water is the longtime home of the Pizza Factory.

If you can fill in any of the blanks before my research extends beyond the 1970s, please let me know.

The fifth building*

I have an asterisk by the reference to the building built by Hall and Waite in 1850 as the fifth in Princeton because of this paragraph in the 1869 history: “In our last (article), we closed with Seely & Hall’s building, it being the fourth. The next, put up in the summer of 1850, occupied the ground upon which August Thiel’s residence now stands, and was built by Richard Tucker, who filled it with a miscellaneous stock of merchandise but was burned out in little over a year when he erected the building now owned and occupied by Esq. Myers as a law office and residence on Water Street.”

I understand this to say that the original fifth building, built by Tucker, burned and that he erected another building, which would be the sixth building. But that’s not how the Republic saw it.

The next paragraph describes the construction of Hall and Waite’s building, but follows that two-paragraph lineage with this: “The sixth building to be used as a trading stand was put up in the summer of 1850 by W.S. and A.L. Flint. …”

It seems the Republic editor did not count the one that burned, making Tucker’s replacement that went to Myers No. 4 and Hall and Waite No. 5.

Thanks for caring and reading about local history.

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