If you’ve lived in Princeton in the last 30 years, you likely are familiar with the Gray Lion Inn, a bed and breakfast that opened in 1989 at 115 Howard Street. The beautiful Victorian style home was built in 1899 by Fred Giese, who operated a grocery store at 604 West Water (west room of Twisters today) from 1893-1939.

But not many people remember the smaller house that sat east of the Giese house, on the site now occupied by Kwik Trip on Lot 1 of Block X. It, too, was a Giese home for many years. I do not know when it was built.

The 1927 Sanborn fire insurance map of Block X includes the Fred Giese house, left, on Harvard Street and the future Bib Giese house, right, at the corner of Harvard and Fulton streets.

Alfred Giese Jr., son of a local dentist and known as “Bib,” bought all of Lot 1 and the east 49.5 feet of Lot 4 from Fred W. Krueger in October 1943 (Deeds, Volume 108, Page 347). The property had passed from Henry Treat, who owned the land in the original plat of Princeton, through Thomas Body, Patrick Regan, Robert Allen, Abram Hall, and Wilbert Schwark before Krueger.

Bib Giese, who owned a share of the Giese & Giese garage on Main Street in the 1930s and later worked at the Handcraft Company, and his wife, Irma, built a large greenhouse and operated a floral shop – the Giese Greenhouse – on their Fulton Street property.

Princeton Times-Republic, May 10, 1956 – “A 50-foot addition to the Giese Greenhouse is in in the process of construction. The completed building will measure about 100 feet. Bornick, Schneebergers and Greget have been contracted for the job. The new addition will provide a walk-in cooler which will make it possible to furnish all kinds of flowers at all times. Workspace will add to convenience and a display room will be included to offer the customer a complete selection of pottery, candles, cards, flowers stands and other articles. A covered display area will be in the front of the building. ‘Bib’ Giese said the addition would be completed this summer.”

Giese built a new 30-by-80-foot greenhouse in spring 1958 for growing peppers and tomatoes from spring through fall. He announced another project in 1961.

Princeton Times-Republic, Oct. 12, 1961 – “A completely new idea in the marketing of refrigerated ready-made corsages and boutonnieres has been introduced to the nation through the ingenuity of Princeton’s own Giese Greenhouses, and, in particular, Alfred Giese Jr., employed here as a designer for the Handcraft Company. The idea was born over two years ago when Giese first got the idea of a cabinet-type dispenser for flowers to be placed in public places much the same as cigarette machines or juke boxes. He took his plan to the Harvey Manufacturing Company in Waukesha and from their combined minds emerged a beautiful Glacair Bouquet dispenser which contains four trays of fresh corsages and boutonnieres, all reasonably priced.”

Giese’s son George took over the business in 1960 but departed for Milwaukee a couple of years later.

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 1, 1962 – “In a surprise announcement this week George Giese expressed plans to leave the Giese Greenhouse here, which he has operated since January of 1960, for a position with Milwaukee Florist Exchange Inc., one of the state’s largest floral wholesalers. The changes take effect once month from today, March 1st. No immediate plans have been made concerning the future of the floral business here, but George’s father, Alfred, intends to operate the firm until other plans develop.”

Dick Koehntop, owner of the Cottage Shop – Flowers & Gifts in Green Lake, leased the Giese Greenhouse in March 1963. “Since George Giese left the greenhouse one year ago for a Milwaukee position, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Giese, have been keeping the floral business operating here,” the newspaper reported, “but the press of Mr. Giese’s duties at the Handcraft Company prevented him devoting enough time to the greenhouse business. Koehntop, who is 24, does not have a greenhouse in Green Lake.”

Alfred Giese Jr. passed in June 1966. Irma sold Lot 1 and the east 49.5 feet of Lot 4 to Seawell Enterprises for $18,000 in November 1969 (Deeds, Volume 226, Page 527). Mrs. Giese retained the right to rent the house and garage for as long as she wished.

Seawell Enterprises, headed by Dr. Albert Seawell, remodeled the greenhouse and operated the Princeton Veterinary Clinic from 1968-1985.

Princeton Times-Republic, May 28, 1968 – “Beginning June 1st, pet owners and livestock owners in the Princeton area will again have the services of a veterinarian, Dr. Albert Seawell. Dr. Seawell also has an office at the Ripon Veterinary Hospital. His office will be at 311 Fulton (the former Giese Greenhouse) and he will be prepared to offer a complete line of animal health supplies along with his services.”

The clinic offered 24-hour service in 1969 but reduced hours over the years and by July 1984 was only open from 7:30-9 p.m. Wednesdays.

Seawell sold the Giese house in September 1971 to the Gary Dean family (Deeds, Volume 239, Page 553).

Princeton Republic, Oct. 7, 1971 – “Mr. and Mrs. Gary Dean and children are residents since last week in the former Alfred Giese house, 305 South Fulton Street, which they recently purchased. Mr. Dean is a teacher at the Princeton Public School.”

The Deans sold the house to Mike Stagg in July 1985. He moved it to a lot on County Road D south of Princeton.

Seawell Enterprises Inc. sold the veterinary property to a partnership, HRZ (John Hansen, D.B. Rinehart, Donald Zietlow), doing business as Kwik Trip, for $12,600 in April 1985 (Deeds, Volume 340, Page 10).

City officials were eager to welcome the La Crosse-based company, which had grown to 50 convenience stores and gas stations between its founding in 1965 and 1983, but some residents opposed the company’s application for a license to sell beer.

Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 21, 1985 – “A large audience of concerned citizens crowded the city council chambers Tuesday night, Feb. 23. On the agenda were two applications for Class A fermented malt beverage licenses made by Kwik Trip Inc. for their proposed mini-mart-gas station to be built at 303 S. Fulton and by Pat Metcalf, owner of Pat’s Standard. For an hour the council listened to audience opinions on Kwik Trip’s beverage license application and the location chosen for their store.”

Kwik Trip said it would not open the Princeton mart without the license.

Council members discussed the need to balance community values with business development. They eventually approved applications from Kwik Trip and gas station operators Pat Metcalf (531 South Fulton Street) and Edward Krystofiak (933 West Main Street), who said they needed the licenses to stay competitive with Kwik Trip.

Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 2, 1986 – “The wet and cold weather hindered the process of building the Kwik Trip station at east Hwy. 23-73 and Harvard streets for some time. In spite of everything, though, the Kwik Trip opened Dec. 10 (1985) for business.”

Kwik Trip held its grand opening in May 1986 and has anchored the corner property since that time.

Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 15, 1994 – “Princeton’s Kwik Trip store is in the process of making many improvements to accommodate their customers. An addition to the store’s north side will be the new front door and deli section. … As the remodeling progresses a side door for unloading will be added.”

Kwik Trip, 303 South Fulton Street, December 2022.

Please let me know if you have any corrections, additions, or suggestions.

Thank you for reading and caring about local history.

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