My goal was to complete the Lots O’ History series tracing the origins and occupants of commercial buildings in Princeton from 1850-1990 by the end of 2022. That’s not going to happen. There are still six to eight more properties to check.
I would not categorize these newer buildings as historic, at least not yet, they certainly were not part of “Old Princeton,” and they likely won’t win any architectural awards, but I wanted to get their origins into the website’s database before going back to the older sites next year:
Princeton Fire Station, 433 West Main Street
After community leaders formed Princeton’s first hook-and-ladder fire company in 1873-1874, they built a room for the wagon and equipment adjoining the Jackson & Merrill Livery at the north end of Washington Street, about where Pulvermacher Enterprises is located today at 500 West Main Street.
The Princeton Fire Company purchased its first fire engine in 1883 and built a new two-story engine house with bell tower on the small triangular lot at the corner of Water, Main and Mechanic streets, home to the former Warnke Lumber office now used as the Visitors Center.
The village board sold the engine house in June 1900 (it was moved to the southeast corner of Pearl and Main streets) and remodeled the old stone schoolhouse at 528 West Main Street for use by the fire department.
Princeton Republic, July 5, 1900 – “The fire engine is now in the new house on Main Street.”
The building served as the fire station and village hall, and later as fire and police station and city hall. With the 1867 building no longer adequate to meet the diverse needs of the city, officials debuted a new plan in 1972.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 13, 1972 – “Councilmen voted Thursday night to go ahead with plans to build a new fire station. Mayor Harry Miller had a sketch of a proposed steel building which measured 50 feet by 122 feet by 16 feet. Plans will be drawn up which will be subject to the approval of the state, and then the city will advertise for bids.”
Work on the new station was completed in fall 1974 with Ceman Construction Company of Berlin as the primary contractor.
Princeton Times-Republic, Feb. 13, 1975 – “The City Council held its first meeting in the meeting room of the new fire station Feb. 4.”
American Legion, 853 West Main Street
The American Legion building was built in 1985 near the site of the former K-Car Wash, owned by attorney L.V. Kaminski, which was built in 1968.
The local American Legion post formed in 1922 and met in the upstairs rooms of the Nickodem building at 545 West Water Street until purchasing the former F.T. Yahr mansion, built in 1883-1884, at 853 West Main from Mrs. Carl Warnke in 1936. The Legion sold the home in 1984 to William and Rita Zamzow, who opened the Evergreen Restaurant in 1985.
The Legion built their new clubhouse just east of the former “Yahr castle.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 12, 1985 – “The laying of the foundation of the American Legion Hall on Main Street in Princeton began last Wednesday. Everyone is anxiously waiting to see what the finished building will look like.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 16, 1986 – “’This Is certainly another fine addition to the City of Princeton,’ stated Princeton Mayor Norm Farrell during his speech at the dedication of the Princeton American Legion Clubhouse. The Kasierski-Kozlowski American Legion Post No 366 of Princeton held dedication ceremonies Sunday, January 12, 1986, in their new club house.”
MnM Antiques, 501A South Fulton Street
Ken Fritz, who had opened Into Wood Antiques in the 500 block of Water Street in 1978, and Bill Preuss opened Princeton’s first antique mall at 501A South Fulton Street in 1987.
Into Wood became the Parkside Antique Mall.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 25, 1987 – “Into Wood, located on Highway 23 across from the Princeton City Park, erected a 2,640 square foot commercial building this past April. Owners Ken Fritz and Bill Preuss have been in the antique business in Princeton for 10 years. They operate their new large building like a mall and rent out spaces. So far, they have 15 dealers who rent spaces.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 12, 1991 – “When Ken Fritz met Bill Preuss, they formed a friendship that would reach out to the realms of the business world and the Parkside Antique Mall was born. … Their first antique shop was located on Water St., Princeton, and remained there for four years until they moved to their present location on Hwy. 23/73 next to the city park. They have been here for twelve years now and have since built the first antique mall in Princeton. The mall was a milestone for Ken and Bill as they pooled their finances and took a gamble on building the 4,000 square foot building.”
By 2005, the Parkside Antique Mall had been replaced by Fulton Street Antiques and five years later by MnM Antiques.
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 30, 2010 – “If everything old is new again, that saying is doubly true at MnM Antiques. The Princeton business at 501 S. Fulton Street has been under new ownership since the second week of July. Mike and Mary Wiencek took over the former Fulton Street Antiques with an eye toward continuing the fine tradition of antiques that the Princeton retail community has become known for.”
Squeaky Clean car wash, 102 South Fulton Street
I believe Squeaky Clean was Princeton’s second car wash. It opened a couple of years after K-Car Wash gave way to the new Legion building.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 11, 1987 – “At the Princeton Common Council meeting held Tuesday, June 9, zoning change for 102 S. Fulton Street from R1 to B2 was made to allow a self-service car wash to be built. Vickie Wielgosh explained to the council that there would be two self-serve bays with high-pressure water system which would use 3 to 4 gallons of water per minute. A change and towel vending machine would be installed.”
Princeton Times-Republic, July 23, 1987 – “Donna Prachel and Vickie Wielgosh broke ground for their two-bay, self-service car wash, “Squeaky Clean,” on Monday morning, July 20. The car wash is being erected just west of the East End Liquor Store, Princeton, and the tentative date for completion is sometime around Labor Day.”
River City Antique Mall, 328 South Fulton Street
Princeton welcomed another antique mall in 1988.
Princeton Times-Republic, April 28, 1988 – “River City Antique Mall will be the name of the building presently being constructed across from Princeton’s Flea Market. The owners, Bruce and Meg Schwemmer, plan to have their new business open for Memorial Day. The structure, when completed, will house 55 vendor stalls.”
The new building was ready by June and the flea market season.
Major changes were made in 2006.
The Water Street Chronicle, June 22, 2006 – “Princeton welcomes yet another new business to our city! River City Antique Mall, 328 South Fulton Street, opened on May 1st after a whirlwind of preparations. Owners Pam and Dave Woolbright gutted the building and essentially rebuilt the entire thing in less than two months. They managed to sell the contents of the building in two days, then installed new wiring and lighting and remodeled … There are forty antique dealers currently occupying the space and they continue to grow.”
VFW, 136 North Farmer Street
Twenty-five men comprised the charter membership of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10452 when it formed in 1980 in Princeton. Paul Ladwig was elected the post’s first commander on January 15, 1980.
The post named in honor of a local longtime physician built the hall on North Farmer Street in 1989.
Princeton Times-Republic, August 10, 1989 – “Dr. G.G. Mueller VFW Post 10452 will dedicate its nearly completed quarters building on Saturday, August 12, at 2:30 p.m.”
Princeton Times-Republic, August 17, 1989 – “The entire family of Dr. G.G. Mueller was present at the dedication ceremony for the Dr. G.G. Mueller Post No 10452 held Saturday in Princeton.”
A&W/Amoco, 811 South Fulton Street
The Mashuda Construction company erected a machine shop and storage buildings on land south of the city airport acquired from Peter Adamski in 1938-1939. The nearly triangular-shaped property sat near the intersection of state Highway 23-73 and Old Green Lake Road.
The main all-steel building was 100 by 50 feet. The annex was 16 by 100 feet. They provided the road construction company with 6,600 square feet of space for storage and repair of its heavy machinery. Another building was added in 1972.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 13, 1972 – “The Highway 23-73 approach to the city is greatly enhanced with the addition of an attractive Mashuda Contractors office next to the Mashuda garage, which was recently been painted a gold color. The 28-by-52-foot avocado building has a stone front and is accented with a burnt orange and gold front door. Work is presently being done on the landscaping and interior decorating.”
The Mashudas moved their headquarters and equipment to new facilities, including new shop and office buildings, about one mile north of Princeton on Highway 73 in 1991. Condon Oil moved onto the former Mashuda site on the east side six years later.
Princeton Times-Republic, August 14, 1997 – “Amoco and A&W are coming soon to Princeton as seen by the sign that Condon Oil Company of Ripon put up on the land across from the school earlier this week. According to Craig Bauman, Condon is shooting for November or December for the Amoco part to open and January or February for the A&W to open. Serious construction will be underway by September 1.”
Princeton Times-Republic, March 10, 1998 – “The Fox River Travel Plaza opened last week beginning with a ceremonial first tank of gas. The first tank of gas went to Karl Huenerberg, who owned the Standard Oil station in Princeton for many years. … Manager Randy Giese filled Karl up with the free tankful.”
Detail Express, 815 South Fulton Street
Detail Express began as Dirt Strippers in 2003.
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 16, 2003 – “Dirt Strippers Car Wash, located next to the Fox River travel Plaza at 815 State Road 23 in Princeton, is currently open for business. Owned by Michael Hurley Properties LLC of New Berlin, Wi, the facility is equipped to handle a single automobile at a time.”
Dollar General, 210 Mechanic Street
City officials used a Tax Incremental Financing district to provide a lot on former Stock Lumber property for Dollar General in 2010.
Princeton Times-Republic, Jan. 21, 2010 – “It’s official: Princeton will be home to a Dollar General store following closed session action at the Princeton Common Council’s January 12 meeting. City Administrator Joshua Schoemann told the Princeton Times-Republic that council members signed a purchase offer and developer’s agreement by DGI-Princeton, LLC, on that date. The nationwide retail chain will buy 1.35 acres of the former Stock Lumber property at the corner of Mechanic and Main streets for $50,000, said Schoemann. A closing date has not been set.”
Princeton Times-Republic, Nov. 25, 2010 – “Shoppers in Princeton have a new place to shop for everyday essentials at low prices,. Dollar General recently opened a new store at 301 June Street and is hosting a grand opening celebration Saturday, November 27, at 8 a.m. … The new 9,014-square-foot store features a fresh layout, designed to make shopping simple for customers.”
Clem Fischer and sons Larry and Bob, of Markesan, operating as Fischer’s Mill, purchased the mill operation of J.F. Warnke & Sons on Main Street/Highway 23-73 in July 1965. In addition to milling services, Fischer’s provided bulk pickup and delivery services.
I cannot pinpoint when the Fischers built the new mill on state Highway 73 (N1273) just south of Princeton city limits. It was sometime between 1978 and June 1987. The Princeton operation closed in 2010.
Boom Coffee Company, 800 South Fulton Street
I have reached out to Boom Bros. in Milwaukee for information about their building here but have not yet received a response. I’ll add them when I do.
Please let me know if you have any corrections or can fill in any gaps in the timeline above.
Thank you for caring and reading about local history.