LOTS O’ HISTORY – wATER LOT 26 | 535 wEST wATER STREET (sONDALLE LAW OFFICE)

I have been unable to document one key step in the development of the west half of Water Lot 26 – now home to the Sondalle Law Office, 535 West Water Street – during my survey of the first 100 years (1848-1948) of the Water Street business district.

The question is when the three-story stone building built in 1859 became a two-story concrete block building. It happened sometime between August 1904 and October 1907, but I have not yet documented a more specific date.

A previous post documented at least two factual errors on the City of Princeton Historical Walking Tour plaque for this property, including the building’s construction date.

But now, back to the beginning.

The west half of Water Lot 26 (the east half of the lot was surveyed in a previous post) passed through several hands between Henry Treat, who purchased all the land that would become the original plat of Princeton from the U.S. government in June 1849, and Ira Sherman, who picked up the west part of Lot 26 and other undeveloped parcels from Marquette County for delinquent taxes, in May 1857 (Deeds, Volume O, Page 26).

Sherman sold the west 28 feet of Lot 26 to Ferdinand Soellig and William Baumgarten for $50 in September 1857 (Deeds, Volume O, Page 109). They sold to Christoph Krueger for $250 in October 1858 (Deeds, Volume Q, Page 524).

According to the history of early Princeton published by the Princeton Republic in 1869, Krueger added another building to the village’s downtown.

“The fifteenth was the three-story stone building now owned by S.M. Eggleston and occupied by Geo. Parker as a store, south side of Water Street, built by Christopher Krueger in ’59, who died before it was quite finished. His widow and two sons, Charles and Randall, moved into the building, the boys having a small stock, which was afterwards turned over to creditors. Liek & Teske occupied this building a year or two with a general assortment. Afterwards August Thiel bought the building and he and R.P. Rawson sold goods another year. M.J. Akin traded with a small stock some months. Eliakim Hall afterwards went in another year, when he sold to Geo. Parker, who still does a good business.”

The Krueger estate sold the property August Thiel in 1863 (Deeds, Volume U, Page 621). Thiel sold to Marshal J. Aikin and Silas Eggleston in 1865 (Deeds, Volume 25, Page 61). Eggleston bought out Aikin in December 1865 for $325 (Deeds, Volume 25, Page 224).

George Parker was selling dry goods in the stone store in 1870 when the Princeton Republic profiled the businesses of Water Street.

Princeton Republic, March 19, 1870 – “George Parker, well known in this vicinity for the last twenty years, as a man who has succeeded in every undertaking, from his small beginning to his present very successful business as merchant, keeps a good stock of dry goods, boots and shoes, hats and caps, and in short everything usually found in our country stores. He believes in turning his goods into money as quick as possible. If you have not tried him, go at once and see if he does not put you up a big pile of goods for a very small pile of greenbacks.”

Christoph Krueger built the three-story stone building at 535 West Water, sixth from left, shown here in circa 1874 photo, in 1859.

Parker was still there in June 1874 but was replaced by the Luedtke Bros. for a time before they purchased the nine-year-old stone building at 544 West Water Street in 1877.

Eggleston sold the stone store to John S. Pahl for $1,350 in February 1877 (Deeds, Volume 37, Page 288).

Princeton Republic, Sept. 22, 1877 – “Pahl and Fenske have opened a general merchandise store in the Eggleston stone building. … Mrs. Geo. Parker has closed out her mercantile business, by selling her stock of goods to Pahl & Fenske.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 22, 1877 “A. Bartz started his cigar factory on Thursday. He can be found in the second story of Eggleston’s block.”

Princeton Republic, July 5, 1883 – “This part of Wisconsin was again visited by a destructive storm last Monday morning. … A part of Pahl’s stone building was torn off.”

Princeton Republic, Feb. 18, 1886 – “Charley Krueger, once a Princeton boy, whose father built the block occupied by John Pahl, was around shaking hands with old acquaintances during the week.”

Princeton Republic, Oct. 6, 1887 – “Yagy & Son have opened their stock of groceries in the Pahl block, and business has commenced in earnest.”

Princeton Republic, May 28, 1890 – “J.H. Manthey and S. Mackowski have purchased S.M. Eggleston’s stock of goods and taken possession at Eggleston’s old stand. J.H. Manthey will move his stock from the D.M. Green building forthwith to the Eggleston stand.”

Eggleston was back in business with the Nickodem brothers in 1891.

Pahl sold the stone store property back to Eggleston for $2,000 in November 1891 (Deeds, Volume 49, Page 543).

Princeton Republic, Nov. 12, 1891 – “S.M. Eggleston has purchased the stone building on Water Street now occupied by S.M. Eggleston & Co. The purchase was made of J.S. Pahl. Mr. Eggleston proposes to add on a number of feet to the rear of the building next season, materially increasing the size of the room and make it more complete.”

The 1892 Sanborn fire insurance map shows a general store in the stone building at 535 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 21, 1895 – “S.M. Eggleston has disposed of a two-thirds interest in his business to Chas. and Fred Nickodem. The firm will be known as S.M. Eggleston & Co. and will continue at the old stand.”

Princeton Republic, Nov. 3, 1898 – “S.M. Eggleston & Co. are building an addition on the rear of their stone building.”

The 1898 Sanborn fire insurance map was completed in August, before S.M. Eggleston & Co. built a frame addition to the store at 535 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 14, 1901 – “The firm of S.M. Eggleston & Co. has been dissolved, the Nickodem brothers having purchased Mr. Eggleston’s interest in the stock of goods. They have leased the building of Mr. Eggleston and will continue business in the old stand.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 1905 – “The store now occupied by Nickodem Bros. will soon be vacated by them, and a stock company will be formed to conduct a general merchandise business in that building. Anyone having $100 or upward to invest in a good thing, with no chance of loss, which is guaranteed, will do well to call and see me and secure further particulars. S.M. Eggleston.”

The addition built to the three-story stone building at 535 West Water Street in 1898 is visible in the 1904 Sanborn fire insurance map.

Silas and Nancy Eggleston sold the aging stone store to their son Ernest for $2,500 in October 1905 (Deeds, Volume 65, Page 572). I have not found many details about the store over the next several months, which should include when it was renovated/replaced, but will keep looking from time to time.

This photo was taken after the Reetz-Tassler building, 505-509 West Water, second from left, opened in September 1906 and before Edward Teske Sr. built the cement block building at 539 West Water, a vacant space in this photo, in September 1907. The building next door east at 535 West Water had already been converted from a three-story stone building to a two-story concrete block building by that time.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 8. 1906 – “Andrews glass blowers have opened in the Eggleston stone building, and will be here the balance of the week, having on exhibition glass blowing in all its finery.”

The 1914 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the former three-story stone building at 535 West Water Street, left, as a two-story block building.

A furniture store occupied the building in 1914. The Daylight Store of Ripon opened a branch store with a stock of “gents furnishing goods and ladies wearing apparel” in May 1917. Victor F. Yahr opened a holiday store there during the 1917 Christmas season.

A foreclosure judgment was issued in February 1920, and Julius Zuehls purchased the mortgaged Eggleston property for $2,434 in March 1920 (Deeds, Volume 79, Page 387).

Princeton Republic, March 25, 1920 – “The Ernest Eggleston store on Water Street was sold at auction last Saturday afternoon. There were but a few bidders present. Julius Zuehls having put in the highest bid became the owner of the property.”

Zuehls sold to Frank J. Yahr for $2,800 in June 1921 (Deeds, Volume 83, Page 389). His son Victor F. Yahr, who already operated a store in the east room of the building on the northeast corner of Water and Pearl streets, took charge of the property.

Princeton Republic, June 23, 1921 – “In a deal consummated between Jul. Zuehls and V.F. Yahr last week, the former became the owner of the former’s business block now occupied by the Helmuth Wuerch ice cream parlor. Mr. Yahr gives information that the building will be remodeled at some future date and placed in a modern and up-to-date condition. He is contemplating to conduct a large department store. The remodeling of the building, however, will not take place until next spring, and the present occupant will retain possession until that time.”

Victor Yahr put his delayed plan for a department store into action in 1923 after Hyman Swed completed his purchase of the Luedtke building at 544 West Water Street.

Princeton Republic, Jan. 18, 1923 – “In a deal which came to a close last week, Hyman Swed became the owner of the O.R. Luedtke Estate building. The new owner has had possession as a renter of the west half of the building for the past number of years while V.F. Yahr occupied the east half. We are informed that Mr. Swed contemplates extensive improvements in the way of remodeling the front, removing the center partition, etc. He will occupy the entire building when improvements are completed. Mr. Yahr will occupy his building on the south side of Water Street, and he too will make considerable improvements before his occupancy.”

Yahr advertised a removal sale at the five-and-dime and grocery store in February as he made improvements to his building across the street at 535 West Water.

Princeton Republic, March 29, 1923 – “V.F. Yahr moved his stock of goods into his newly remodeled store building on the south side of Water Street last Saturday. Mr. Yahr has arranged the building in a neat and tasty manner and his goods present a fine appearance. The building is large and roomy with a fine amount of light.”

Princeton Republic, Jan. 20, 1927 – “Fire in the department store of V.F. Yahr did considerable damage last Sunday forenoon. Overheating of the stove was the cause of the conflagration. Mr. Yahr was in his place of business at the time and ready to leave for home when he heard a peculiar noise coming from the second floor of the building. He went to investigate and opening the door found the entire second floor, which is utilized for storage, enveloped in smoke. He at once sent in the fire alarm. The fire department immediately appeared on the scene with the chemical truck and shortly thereafter the large fire truck was put in service. The fire had made its headway between the ceiling and the floor of the second story of the building. Mr. Yahr estimates the damage on goods at about $2,000, which is fully covered by insurance. The building, owned by his father, was damaged to the extent of about $500, also covered by insurance. The largest share of damage was inflicted by water and chemicals.”

Princeton Republic, April 9, 1931 – “In a deal recently transacted between Victor Yahr Sr. and Victor Yahr Jr., the latter took possession of the former’s stock of goods, consisting of groceries, shoes, notions, etc.”

After selling the Princeton operation to his son, Victor F. Yahr moved to Kiel in August 1933 to manage a branch store there. He was killed in automobile accident two months later. He was 48.

Princeton Republic, Oct. 19, 1933 – “Victor Yahr Sr., for many years a Princeton resident, for the past few months a citizen of Kiel, was killed early Thursday evening, October 12, in an automobile collision. He was traveling alone to Kiel from this city. He had been at Puckaway Lake on a duck hunting trip. The accident happened on a crossroad on County Trunk HH, two miles from his destination. The mishap was a smashup involving two cars. Mr. Yahr was thrown through the windshield and sustained lacerations and internal injuries. Passersby took him to Kiel and immediately sought medical aid. Examination revealed that the jugular vein had been severed. He was taken to the hospital at Plymouth where he passed away shortly after arrival.”

Following Frank Yahr’s death in 1935, the property at 535 West Water passed to Victor A. Yahr (Deeds, Volume 97, Page 633).

Princeton Republic, Sept. 12, 1935 – “In a deal transacted the latter part of last week between the F.J. Yahr estate and V.A. Yahr the latter became the owner of the store building and the warehouse which he has been occupying for the last several years.”

Princeton Republic, May 14, 1936 – “V.A. Yahr is improving his store with a fine new front greatly improving his show window facilities.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 5, 1937 – “Ernest Eggleston, of Madison, who is visiting relatives here and renewing old acquaintances, recalls early days in Princeton dating back half a century when his father, S.M. Eggleston, conducted a store where the Vic Yahr store is now located. He remembers how the Indians paddled their canoes almost to the back door of the store and brought in their furs to trade for groceries, tobaccos, traps and other necessities.”

Princeton Times-Republic, March 28, 1940 – “Work was started this week on remodeling and enlarging the V.A. Yahr store. Eight feet will be added to the width of the building and an extension built on the rear – nearly doubling the present amount of floor space.”

Yahr held a grand opening sale in May 1940 and announced bigger plans in June 1944.

Princeton Times-Republic, June 15, 1944 – “A real estate transfer that took place this morning will result in the expansion of one of Princeton’s oldest mercantile enterprises into one of Green Lake County’s largest stores. We have reference to the purchase of V.A. Yahr of the Haas building, formerly occupied by the Buckhorn tavern and more recently by the Handcraft Company. A new front will be installed, and an archway cut through to connect it with the main store. The new department will be devoted exclusively to men’s clothing and furnishings and footwear for men, women and children. … The present store will be completely remodeled and new fixtures installed to make it a modern semi self-serving super food market. … The Yahr Store, which was founded by V.F. Yahr, father of the present proprietor, 32 years ago has always been known as the home of the best in merchandise.”

Princeton Times-Republic, July 6, 1944 – “Work of remodeling the front of the Buckhorn building was started Wednesday. The building will be occupied by the shoe and clothing departments of the V.A. Yahr store.”

Princeton Times-Republic, July 20, 1944 – “The new plate glass front has been installed in the Buckhorn building now being remodeled by V.A. Yahr and soon to be occupied by his clothing and shoe departments.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Aug. 31, 1944 – “The work of rearranging the grocery department of the Yahr store is nearly completed. It is quite an improvement. Stocks are conveniently displayed for self-service, a feature which will be greatly appreciated by those accustomed to shopping at supermarkets, and together with the clothing and shoe departments, Yahr’s has become one of Green Lake County’s largest and best stocked stores.”

Yahr also operated a milk route for a short time.

Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 25, 1945 – “Vic Yahr announces a new department of his business when on February 1st he will start the delivery of Brooklyn Creamery milk and other dairy products to Princeton homes. Alex Korleski will have charge of the delivery.”

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 25, 1945 – “Lloyd Marquardt, who recently received his honorable discharge from the Army after over three years of service, has bought the Yahr Dairy Service and taken over its operation. He will continue to handle Brooklyn Creamery products.”

Yahr opened a new meat department in March 1946. His new equipment included meat saw, tenderizer and walk-in refrigerator.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 28, 1946 – “This issue of the Times-Republic carries a page ad for the V.A. Yahr store which has been remodeled recently and with its many improvements ranks as one of the most modern stores in this part of the state.”

That completes our survey of the first 100 years (1848-1948) of Water Lot 26 and the property at 535 West Water Street. I will update with additional owners and occupants as my research progresses.

Yahr moved the grocery store to 441 West Water Street, the former Ford garage at the southeastern corner of Water and Washington streets, in 1955.

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 15, 1955 – “Victor Yahr of the Yahr Supermarket announced today that he will move his stock of groceries, fruits and other foods to the new location across form the post office, in the former Princeton Motors building which he purchased and has remodeled into a modern food store. His grand opening will be held Friday, Sept. 23.”

Yahr sold the neighboring Buckhorn building to Edmund and Lucille Bartol in 1957 but continued the clothing line at 535 for several more years before Ken and Virginia Krueger converted the building into Kenyon’s Klothes in 1967.

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 12, 1967 – “On Monday morning, October 9, Ken and Virginia Krueger took over the ownership and management of Yahr’s Cothing Store, from V.A. Yahr. Mr. Yahr had owned the business for the past 36 years. … Ted Tanner had managed the business for the past 23 years. The store will be known as Kenyon’s Klothes.”

Krueger, who served as a medic in the Korean War, had operated the Standard Service Station founded by Karl Huenerberg at Fulton and Dover streets from 1955-1966, when he sold to Art Sylke.

After Kenyon’s Klothes moved to 442 West Water Street, animals and fish took over the store at 535.

Princeton Times-Republic, March 1, 1979 – “Many people have the desire to start an aquarium but never do because they don’t have the know-how. Princeton has a new Exotic Fish Shop which has all the answers for these people. It is fast becoming one of the largest fish shops in the state and is a center for the amateur as well as the expert. The Exotic Fish Shop, located at 535 W. Water Street, in downtown Princeton, has answers in the way of information in books and first hand advice from the owner, Leo Wettstein, who has been raising fish for about 20 years. … Wettstein said he did a lot of remodeling when he bought the store from V.A. Yahr. The ceiling was lowered, a wall was installed to make two display rooms and paneling was added. The front of the shop has the walls lined with shelves holding pet supplies and equipment. There are displays of live and artificial plants, coral, rocks and other items. … Two huge aquariums, about 190-gallon size, are instant attractions as customers enter the shop. One weights about a ton with the water and gravel. In the back room there are four double rows of 113 tanks ranging in size from 15 to 29 gallons. … The present inventory is between 6,000 to 7,000 fish. … The shop also has an electric eel which is kept in a 55-gallon tank. It is presently two-and-a-half feet long but could grow to six feet if it had more room.”

The Pet Shop opened at 535 in October 1980. It included canaries, parakeets and other birds, tropical fish and gold fish, hamsters and guinea pigs, and more. “How about prices?,” an ad asked. “Ask any of the birds, all they’ll say is ‘cheap, cheap.'”

Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 6, 1980 – “Hermann Richter has pursued a variety of interests in his life but he is probably most happy with his recent venture. He opened a Pet Shop here on Oct. 16, in the building which formerly houses the Exotic Fish Shop in downtown Princeton. … Originally from Chicago, Richter spent the last 10 years in Necedah in the real estate business.

Attorney Michael Lehner, who had been in practice with Frank Lisheron, went out on his own in April 1981 and opened his law office at 535 West Water Street on May 1, 1981. He was joined by real estate agent Reid Mevis.

Princeton Times-Republic, April 23, 1981 – “Attorney Michael P. Lehner has announced that he is conducting his law practice from his home on County Highway Y until May 1, when his new office in downtown Princeton will be completed. The office will be at 535 W. Water Street, which was formerly the Pet Shop.”

I will update this file as my research progresses beyond the 1980s. As always, if you have corrections or can fill in any gaps, please let me know.

Thank you for reading and caring about local history.

NEXT WEEK: We conclude the survey of the first 100 years of the lots and buildings of the 400-600 blocks of West Water Street with historic Water Lot 25, home for many years to the iconic Nickodem and Megow buildings.

Attorney Michael Lehner purchased the property at 535 West Water Street in 1981 and remodeled the building into his law office. Today the building houses the Sondalle Law Office.

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