The stately old house on the northwest corner of Wisconsin and Clinton streets is getting a facelift as owners prep it for sale. A fresh coat of paint will do wonders for the grande dame.

I know little about architecture, but the home at 329 South Clinton Street with the wrap-around porch and complex roof line certainly has a Victorian/Queen Anne look to it, though it was erected a few years after what is considered the Victorian era (1837-1901).

The house stands on Lot 9 of Block N, part of the Treat & Parsons Addition platted by Henry Treat and Nelson Parsons in 1855. Henry Treat sold Lot 9 and others to his brother, Royal, considered the founder of Princeton, for $120 in April 1850 (Deeds, Volume C, Page 444). The property passed through the hands of several other owners before August Kleinert purchased Lot 9 from Gottlieb and Rose Luedtke for $60 in December 1866 (Deeds, Volume 27, Page 222).

Kleinert was a Civil War veteran who worked as a mason and served as policeman for a time. His more significant mason work included rebuilding a bridge abutment in 1888 and moving and rebuilding the city jail in 1890. He built a small home on Lot 9 of Block N.

After Kleinert died in 1902, the Clinton Street property passed to his daughter, Clara, who sold to Stanislaw, more commonly known as Stanish and often referred to in the newspaper as S.E., and Frances Mackowski for $650 in May 1905 (Deeds, Volume 65, Page 368).

The Mackowskis razed the small house on the lot and built the home now being prepped for sale. I grew up in the 1950s across Wisconsin Street from the house when it was owned by Christian and Emma Kreilkamp, second of the five owners in the house’s 118-year history.

The large home’s first two owners played significant roles in the history of Princeton. The Mackowskis operated a dry goods and grocery store at 609 West Water Street (Knickerbocker Landing today) for about 35 years, and Kreilkamp served two stints as principal of Princeton High School, from 1914-1918 and 1934-1942. Both families were also active members of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

The Mackowski-Kreilkamp house as seen from Clinton Street.

The Mackowskis

The Mackowski family, like many other early St. John families, came to the U.S. from the Posen region of Poland (Prussia). Stanish’s parents, Martin and Emelia, were born in Poland, married in 1860, immigrated here about 1881 and farmed in St. Marie Township. Martin had been a forester in Poland.

The Mackowskis had four sons, Stanish, Joseph, Walter and Frank, and one daughter, Helen. Walter and Frank became farmers. Stanish worked as a clerk for pioneer merchant Silas M. Eggleston for eight years, partnered with J.H. Manthey in the dry goods business for a short time and went into business with his brother Joe in 1893.

Mackowski Bros. operated a general store at 624 West Water (site of the Tabitha Pierce American Family Insurance building today) for three years, then purchased the building built at 609 West Water (Knickerbocker Landing today) by August Swanke in 1889, in 1894 (Deeds, Vol. 52, Page 322).

The brothers moved their general store into one of the building’s two rooms and leased the other to jeweler O.J. Weiss for a couple of years before taking over the entire building.

Princeton Republic, Aug. 5, 1898 – “The room vacated by O.J. Weiss will be used by the Mackowski Bros. as a grocery department to their general store. The boys are owners of the block and will make arrangements to attract trade and add to their already flourishing business.”

Stanish and Frances Mackowski, married in 1895, moved into the rooms above the store in 1898. They lived there until 1905 when they purchased the lot on the northwest corner of Clinton and Wisconsin streets from Clara Kleinert for $650 (Deeds, Volume 65, Page 368).

Princeton Republic, May 31, 1905 – “Stanish Mackowski is preparing to build a fine residence on the lot recently purchased by him of the Kleinerts.”

Joe Mackowski sold his share of the Princeton business to Stanish in 1906 and moved to Beaver Dam. Stanish continued operating the “Day Light Store” on Water Street for another 24 years. He also was elected – after 11 ballots – manager of the city’s electric light department, still in its infancy, in July 1912.

Longtime local businessman and justice of the peace Herman Megow praised Mackowski’s job with the utility in a letter to the local newspaper in November 1913: “Mr. Markowski at once proceeded to place the plant upon a business basis. He collected outstanding accounts against the plant, he insisted that any person buying light or supplies from the plant should either pay for them or have his lights cut off. He cheerfully gave his time and energies to this work for a very reasonable charge. … He has today all bills against the electric light department paid, he has all bills due collected, he has paid promptly each bond as it became due with interest on the entire unpaid bond issue outstanding and has a nice big balance in bank to the credit of the department. The village board has each year been levying a tax of $1,000 to pay for the street lighting. We are informed this year that they have levied the usual tax, but the money will be spent on improving our streets, as Mr. Mackowski says that he will make the plant earn enough money to pay for the street lighting without the help of this tax. … We we see the crushed-stone steam roller work being done on our streets next summer we should all remember that the Village Board were able to give us these street improvements, without extra burden upon the taxpayers, largely for the reason that Mr. Mackowski has pulled the electric department out of the mud and put it upon a crushed-stone foundation.”

Mackowski also served on the Princeton State Bank board of directors for many years.

Until a parish council was formed in 1968, St. John’s parish business was handled primarily by two “lay directors,” a secretary and a treasurer (referred to as cashier in early days). Mackowski was the parish’s first secretary, according to the parish history compiled by Alice Krystofiak in 1987.

Mackowski was also on the planning committee and among the men who mortgaged their properties to help build the present St. John’s church in 1887-1888.  He was appointed music director at St. John’s after the organist was dismissed in 1889. (Frances was an accomplished organist and pianist.) He also helped oversee the purchase of new altars in 1902 and a pipe organ in 1906, which was replaced in 1966.

Mackowski was on the nine-person committee that organized St. John’s first picnic in 1903. The group also included his brother Joe, Rev. J.S. Wozny, Fred Nickodem, Andrew Drill, Ador Manthey, Charles Nickodem, Theodore Bednarek, and A. Loshinske.

Princeton Republic, June 25, 1903 – “The Polish school picnic, which was held in Wyse’s grove Sunday, was a grand success. A very large crowd was present, and the committee and congregation are to be congratulated on the excellent entertainment provided. The day was one of general amusement. The wheel of fortune, the dolls and the games for children kept all in a merry tone. The music was most excellent and was furnished by Weinkauf’s band. It was one of the largest crowds to attend a picnic in some time, and the amusements and refreshments were excellent in every particular. The receipts of the day were $280.00, which goes to the school fund.”

Stanish and Frances donated one of the Stations of the Cross erected in the church in 1914.

Stanish Mackowski, 66, died at his Clinton Street home in August 1930 about six months after closing his business.

Frances Mackowski sold the Water Street store in 1931 and the Clinton Street property in 1935 (Deeds, Volume 95, Page 179). She passed in 1962.

Princeton Republic, Nov. 5, 1931 – “Erwin Bielfuss and W. E. Haferman, of Horicon, have gained possession of the Mrs. S. E. Mackowski store for the sale of a new line of groceries. The interior has been remodeled and given a new coat of white paint. New shelving has been installed and every article is in plain sight of the purchaser. Lattice work in the window and above the partition has been arranged which lends a beautiful appearance to the store. The new firm will do business under the name of Princeton Grocery I.G.A.”

Princeton Republic, Sept. 5, 1935 – “In a deal consummated between Mrs. S. E. Mackowski and Principal C. J. Kreilkamp, the latter became the owner of the former’s residence located on Clinton Street, opposite the Lutheran parsonage. Mr. Kreilkamp and family will take possession in the near future. Mrs. Mackowski will occupy the upper flat during the winter months.”

(Note: The Mackowskis’ son Edmund was the first Princeton man to enlist in the Marines in World War I. He later changed his name to Mack. Ed Mack was a television repairman and operated out of the Drill building at 518 West Water, Levee Contemporary gallery today, from 1961-1968. He died in 1979.)

The Mackowski-Kreilkamp house as seen from Wisconsin Street.

The Kreilkamps

Christian Kreilkamp moved his family from Madison to Princeton in 1914 when he was named principal of Princeton High School.

Princeton Republic, Feb. 12, 1914 – “Prin. C.J. Kreilkamp will arrive today and be ready to take up his work at the head of the school here Monday. His wife and family will remain in Madison for a month or more. The new principal has had considerable experience and comes here very highly recommended. We welcome him to our city and wish him success in the work.”

They rented the house built by William Page on the northeast corner of Harvard and Howard streets in 1892.

Christian Kreilkamp, who grew up in Washington County, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1908 and married Emma Blum in 1909. Their marriage ceremony was the first held in the Sacred Heart chapel at Edgewood College in Madison.

Emma had graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Music in 1905 and for 11 years served as organist for two Madison parishes (St. Bernard’s and Holy Redeemer). She served as organist at St. Patrick’s in Princeton from 1914-1918 and at St. Joseph’s in Berlin from 1923-1930. She also taught music classes in her Princeton home.

Princeton Times-Republic, June 13, 1952 – “Mrs. C.J. Kreilkamp will present her piano pupils in a recital Saturday, June 15. The following will take part in the program: Arlyn Schwark, Sharon Nickelman, Michael Vahldieck, Nancy Brown, Margaret Trilling, Arta Dreblow, Linda Vahldieck, Leslie Dugenske, Joan Piasecki, Melody Bauman, Julie Dreblow, Jane Wesner, Gail Oestreich, Linda Russell, David Okey.”

Mrs. Kreilkamp also organized St. John’s first neighborhood “Study Club,” a group of women who met weekly in their homes to discuss scripture and Christian doctrine. The group met for nearly 10 years. (Members that I remember gathering at our house, as my dad and I secluded ourselves in the kitchen, included my mom, Marie Wick, Lucille Sebert, Julia Novak and Dorothy Novak, though there were probably others I don’t recall.)

Christian Kreilkamp had several years of experience as a country teacher, a graded-school teacher, a high school teacher and a supervising principal. He and his wife, Emma, lived in Madison and Wausaukee before their first stop in Princeton in 1914 and in Superior, Milwaukee, Berlin, and Minneapolis before their final move to Princeton in 1934.

Kreilkamp resigned from his first stint as principal in 1918 after being hired by the state as a factory inspector as part of the war effort and moving to Superior. He was promoted and moved to Milwaukee in 1919 to work for the Wisconsin Industrial Commission. He returned to Madison to complete his master’s degree and was hired in 1923 as principal of the Green Lake County Rural Normal School, a teacher training program in Berlin previously known as the Green Lake County Training School. He resigned in 1930, returned as principal of Princeton High School in 1934 and moved from Berlin to the Clinton Street home.

Princeton Republic, June 7, 1934 – “Mr. C. J. Kreilkamp, former principal of the Green Lake County Normal at Berlin, has been selected principal of the Princeton High School.“

Princeton Republic, Sept. 5, 1935 – “In a deal consummated between Mrs. S. E. Mackowski and Principal C. J. Kreilkamp, the latter became the owner of the former’s residence located on Clinton Street, opposite the Lutheran parsonage. Mr. Kreilkamp and family will take possession in the near future. Mrs. Mackowski will occupy the upper flat during the winter months.”

Kreilkamp helped form Parent-Teachers Associations at PHS during both stints. He also brought back German language classes, which had been part of the high school in its early days but had been abandoned during the anti-German sentiment surrounding World War I. He published a thank you letter in the newspaper when he retired in 1942.

Princeton Times-Republic, June 4, 1942 – “Now that my work as principal of our public school has come to an end, I have been thinking it would be ungrateful on my part not to give expression of my feeling of sincere gratitude to those who have so splendidly cooperated with me to make a good school possible. Men in the field of education recognize a good school when they come into one; all have praise for our school. … Then, too, our enrollment of 125 the past two years has been the highest in the history of the school. … I wish to thank you seniors sincerely for your fine billfold; you members of the German class, for that beautiful marble horse; and all you students and teachers for that wonderful radio. These gifts were a great surprise to me. I shall always cherish them. Too disturbed emotionally at the presentations I could not adequately express my appreciation of your token that you so wholeheartedly gave to me. … C.J. Kreilkamp”

Kreilkamp also served as chairman of the Democratic Party of Green Lake County for several years.

The Kreilkamps celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1959 with a dinner at Luby’s Supper Club (402 South Fulton Street, today Sasquatch’s gifts store).

Emma Kreilkamp died at the Clinton Street home in 1963. Her husband passed in 1973 in Madison after being cared for there by his daughter Rosemary for about a year. He was 94. “Of all past teachers and principals who taught In the Princeton High School, Mr. Kreilkamp lived the longest life span,” the Times-Republic reported on Oct. 25, 1973.

Stanish and Frances Mackowski and Christian and Emma Kreilkamp are buried in St. John’s cemetery.

The Kreilkamps had six children, but only the two youngest, Rosemary and Donald, both born in Milwaukee when their father worked for the state, spent significant time in Princeton.

Rosemary won first place in the “Selected Reading” competition at the county declamatory and oratorical contest in 1935 and was valedictorian of the 20-member PHS Class of 1936. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, married Edward Vahldieck in 1948, worked as a visiting nurse in Madison and Milwaukee, served as the Green Lake County nurse from 1954-1957 and lived as a single mom with her children in the upstairs apartment on Clinton Street before returning to Madison in 1957 as an instructor in the UW School of Nursing. She passed in 2015 at age 95.

Donald joined the local Boy Scout troop and attended the National Jamboree in Washington, D.C., in 1937. He received a first-place in the league forensics competition in 1937 and attended Princeton High School for three years before entering the seminary at Mount Calvary in 1939 for his senior year. He entered the Capuchin Order in 1940 and was given the religious name of Hermes.

Princeton Times-Republic, May 26, 1949 – “Rev. Hermes Kreilkamp, member of the order of Franciscan friars known as Capuchins, and son of Mr. and Mrs. C.J. Kreilkamp, will be ordained a priest on June 3 in Marathon and will celebrate his First Solemn Mass at St. John’s on June 12.”

The Kreilkamps and friends gathered at the Community Hall for a celebration following the Mass.

Capuchins were allowed to visit their families for two weeks each year, and Donald returned several times before leaving the Capuchins in 1971. He taught at seminaries and colleges and wrote several books. He retired in 1993 and passed in 2017 at age 93.

The Kreilkamp estate sold the Clinton Street property to June Doty in 1974 (Deeds, Volume 262, Page 531). She sold to Richard and Judy Hebbe in 1976 (Deeds, Volume 277, Page 556). They sold to Fred and Pamela Weaver in 1992 (Deeds, Volume 407, Page 300). Fred took sole ownership in 1998 (Deeds, Volume 503, Page 165). That was the most recent entry I found at the county Register of Deeds office.

The house has been rented in recent years.

According to its listing with Beiser Realty, the 2,236-square-foot home includes five bedrooms and two bathrooms. The listed price is $160,000.

Thank you for reading and caring about local history.

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