The brick-and-block building at 505-509 West Water Street, today home to Horseradish, was built in 1906 and replaced a frame structure erected in the 1850s. Here’s a look at how the property developed over its first 100 years.
The history of early Princeton published by the Princeton Republic in 1869 provides this background of the wood building, originally a saloon, that first stood near the intersection of Water and Short streets and was moved a few years later to 505-509 West Water:
“The ninth building in which was to be stowed, and afterwards sold to the needy dwellers in and around the growing village of Princeton, the wherewith to protect them from the inclemency of Wisconsin winters, was put up by one R. Williamson, a worthy champion of the goose. This building stood upon the ground now occupied by Mr. Bentley’s unfinished warehouse, near Mr. McIntyre’s blacksmith shop, and was occupied for a time by D.H. Waite with a stock of dry goods, but was afterwards purchased by LaFayette Fisher and moved to its present site on Water Street, where Mr. Fisher has for the greater share of the time since then engaged in a general merchandise trade, doing a safe and paying business, where he may now at any time be found with a select stock especially adapted to the wants of the ladies, which he is selling at prices to suit the times.”
The property records of Water Lot 29 begin, as with all other sales in Princeton’s original plat, with Henry Treat dealing the property he purchased from the federal government at $1.25 per acre, with this parcel part of a package sold to Thomas Sargent in June 1849 (Deeds, Volume B, Page 286).
The property passed from Sargent to Clarissa Robinson in 1852 to Samuel Morse in 1853 to Lafayette Fisher in 1854 (Deeds, Volume H, Page 539).
Princeton Republic, Sept. 12, 1867 – “Lafayette Fisher is enlarging and extending his storeroom, preparatory to putting in a new stock of fall and winter goods. In connection with his store, he will have a new stock of millinery goods. They now have a beautiful display of bonnets, hats and caps, of the latest styles, for ladies. Another new feature is the dress and cloak-making department. A lady from the east, an experienced cutter and fitter, has been engaged, and will be here shortly. Let our lady friends call in and see the new millinery store.”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 4, 1869 – “Laf. Fisher is about to move his stock of goods into Demell’s west storeroom (515 West Water).”
Fisher sold the property, including the building built by Williamson, to Peter W. Jackson for $1,800 in February 1869 (Deeds, Volume 30 Page 370).
Benjamin Demell and Norman W. Lowe formed a partnership in 1869 dealing in the feed and provision business and moved in Fisher’s former spot in the Jackson building. A barber operated from Jackson’s block in August 1874, and Lowe and D.T. Andrews opened a meat market there in April 1876. W.H. Avery was selling “fancy goods” in the Jackson building in October 1877, and G.E. Coates started a candy factory there in June 1878.
Princeton Republic, August 8, 1878 – “The post office was removed last Monday to the west room of Jackson’s block. The removal was occasioned by the want of light in Mrs. Radway’s building, which was caused by Mrs. Jones’ restaurant being placed so near the Radway building.”
Jackson sold the property in 1884 to August Swanke, who flipped it quickly.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 18, 1884 – “P.W. Jackson has sold his business property on Water Street to August Swanke (Deeds, Volume 45, Page 207). We understand Mr. Swanke has sold to other parties since his purchase.”
The “other parties” was Albert Graf, who paid $1,200 for the west half of Lot 29 in November 1884 (Deeds, Volume 45, Page 203).
Princeton Republic, July 15, 1886 – “A.T. Graf is about completing a fine new front to his building, which is an improvement to the old Jackson block meriting more than passing notice.”
Graf sold to Edward Reetz for $2,000 in February 1893 (Deeds, Volume 52, Page 63).
Princeton Republic, May 3, 1894 – “The rooms in Ed Reetz’s building, just west of Jule Hennig’s place, are being fitted up to use as an office by Dr. McConnell.”
Princeton Republic, Oct. 31, 1895 – “Ed Reetz has moved his harness shop into his own building next to Behm & Co.’s store (501 West Water).”
Reetz fixed up the living rooms over the shop in 1896 and built an addition to the rear of the building in 1898.
In 1899, he sold the west 18 feet of the west half of Lot 29 to Gus Klawitter for $1,600 (Deeds, Volume 58, Page 140).
Princeton Republic, July 10, 1901 – “W.F. Corenke, G. Klawitter and O. Tassler have purchased the merry-go-round which was run here the Fourth by Ripon parties.”
Klawitter operated a saloon until November 1906, when he sold to Oscar and Mary Tassler for $1,500 (Deeds, Volume 67, Page 20).
Princeton Republic, January 25, 1906 – “Oscar Tassler has purchased the saloon business of Gust Klawitter.”
In 1906 Tassler and Reetz replaced the frame building erected by Williamson in the early 1850s with the cement block and brick-front building that we see today.
Princeton Republic, July 12, 1906 – “Oscar Tassler and Edward Reetz have let the contract to B.H. Shew for the erection of a cement building block, with brick front, on the ground now occupied by these gentlemen as saloon and harness shop. The building will be a fine one and will improve the looks of our business street a great deal. Work will be commence Monday tearing down the old building.”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 14, 1906 – “The new building of E. Reetz and O. Tassler is progressing nicely and will soon be ready for occupancy. It is going to make a great improvement to the south side of Water Street.”
Reetz, whose customers included West End Laundry – owned by Princeton native Vergne Potter – in Washington, D.C., moved into his new building about a week later. His family moved into the living quarters above the store.
Emil Maager opened a shoe repair shop in a corner of Reetz’s room in 1919. Reetz sold the shop in 1934 to a former employee.
Princeton Republic, Sept. 13, 1934 – “In a deal transacted last Tuesday between Mrs. Edward Reetz and Fred Siepert the latter takes over the harness shop of the former. Mr. Siepert will occupy the Reetz building this week.”
After working for Reetz years earlier, Siepert had opened a harness shop in Neshkoro. He sold his holdings there in 1925 and opened a shop with a full line of harness, blankets and supplies at 631 West Water Street. He remained there for about nine years.
Siepert remained at 505 from until July 1945 when he retired due to ill health. (He passed in May 1947.)
Princeton Times-Republic, July 19, 1945 – “Fred Siepert has sold his harness shop to William Kohnke, who has taken possession. … It was forty-four years ago that Mr. Siepert started to learn the trade in this shop at the time conducted by the late Ed Reetz. He later went to Neshkoro where he was engaged in the harness business until about twenty years ago when he returned to Princeton and took over the shop where he learned his trade.”
Kohnke stayed but a few months in the Reetz building before moving to 629 West Water Street, the former Kryzenske shoe shop, in November.
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 22, 1945 – “George Ladwig will open a paint and wallpaper store in the Reetz building now occupied by the Kohnke Harness Shop. Mr. Kohnke will move his harness shop to the building he recently purchased of the Mueller estate and now occupied by the Kryzenske shoe shop and the Wm. Jahns family.”
A bakery moved in in 1948.
Princeton Times-Republic, October 14, 1948 – “The Tast-ee Bakery is the name of Princeton’s newest business enterprise. Harvey LeRoy is the owner of the bakery which is located in the Reetz building and opened for business Monday morning with a nice line of cakes and pastries as well as bread, buns and rolls of various kinds. The equipment includes a gas-heated oven and other modern facilities for turning out quality baked goods.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 2, 1950 – “Harvey LeRoy, former owner and operator of the Tast-ee Bakery announced the sale early this week of the bakery to La Vern Lorbiecki.”
Reetz heirs, including August Reetz, owned Ed’s part of the building as late as July 1959.
The Tassler portion of the building remained in family hands as well – from Mary to Oscar to David – and remained a tavern into the 1940s. Elda Tassler Roguske held the Class B liquor and beer license for Tassler’s Tavern at 509 West Water in 1948.
That completes the first 100 years of the west half Water Lot 29. I’ll continue to update as my research advances. The east half of the lot is best known as the home of First National Bank, later Farmers-Merchants National Bank. Its history was discussed in an earlier post.
Thank you for reading and caring about local history.