The recent post about the Mackowski/Kreilkamp house piqued my interest in other late-19th and early 20th-century homes that continue to grace my neighborhood.
The Mackowski/Kreilkamp house at 319 South Clinton Street is among the 37 Princeton homes listed in the Wisconsin Historical Society property inventory as examples of the Queen Anne architectural style. Since I know nothing about architecture, I’ll take their word on that.
The best known of the homes are the F.T. Yahr mansion, 867 West Main Street, built in 1883, and E.D. Morse mansion, 330 West Water Street, built in 1894, which local historians have faithfully chronicled over the years. I have discussed both houses in previous posts.
But local historians don’t know, or have not shared, much about many of the other Queen Anne homes.
Here is a description of the Queen Anne style from the Oshkosh Public Library’s website: “Queen Anne style was featured in several buildings at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. From there it swept west. The irregular rooflines, with gables, turrets, towers, and molding, called for woodworking skills readily found in Oshkosh. Not surprisingly, it was a favorite of local lumber barons.”
Not surprisingly, it was a favorite of Princeton’s lumber merchants and carpenters of the era as well; men such as Gardner Green, Elmer Morse, Patrick Regan, Frank Giese, John Warnke, Bert Shew, Charles Craw, Oliver Harmon, William, Emil and Herman Gorr, Roguske Bros., and others.
Most of the homes were built for single families, but some were rental “tenant houses” that could accommodate two families. The owners, most often local businessmen or builders, were as transient as their renters.
Princeton Republic, April 2, 1896 – “Have you lost any of your friends? Perhaps we can help you locate them. The moving fever dislocated the visiting list to an alarming extent the past month. The O.S. Johnson family are now located in the Aug. Ponto house on Water Street; the W.P. Harmon and S.A. Gray families occupy the Riverside Cottage; Mr. and Mrs. Whittemore will dispense hospitality at their old home on Farmer Street; Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Fanning have moved into the Ernest Lambrecht home; H.E. Tucker will move into the Leighton residence; and Chas. Smith is a city resident, exchanging houses with his brother, E.R. Smith, who becomes a country gentleman again; Mrs. M.C. Briggs is ‘at home’ in the J. Hennig building one door east of the Flowers residence.”
Most of the homes have been remodeled over the years – porches enclosed or removed, wings added, etc. – but several retain their original look. Another challenge when tracking house histories is defining “built.” Some newspaper references apply to the carpenters who are erecting a house and other references to owners of the lot where the house is being built.
If you spot any errors in my list, have suggestions, or would like to share a history of your house, please let me know.
I hope to have time to add two or three parts to the list of “Old Homes” over the fall and winter. I rely on the Princeton newspapers, property deeds, Sanborn fire insurance maps of 1892, 1898, 1904, 1914 and 1927, the 1892 illustrated map of Princeton, the city map included in a 1901 county plat book, and the Wisconsin Historical Society property inventory as my primary resources.
I will expand my list to include various architectural styles, but let’s start with the stately Queen Anne house where I played in the 1960s when it was the DeWitt and Dorene England family home.
Frank Giese House, 102 West Water Street
The large house now operating as Gray Gables Airbnb was built in 1900 by Frank Giese, who owned a lumberyard in town for many years.
Giese purchased the property, which included the south 10 rods of Lot 18 and east 10 rods of Lot 17 of Block 2, from Gottlieb Siepert, who operated a harness shop downtown, for $400 in March 1900 (Deeds, Volume 58, Page 210).
Giese replaced the house that stood on the lot.
Princeton Republic, April 26, 1900 – “Work has commenced on Frank Giese’s new house on Water Street.”
Princeton Republic, May 10, 1900 – “Work on the new residence of Frank Giese is progressing finely and is expected to be ready for residency by September 1.”
The Giese family occupied the residence until he bought an even larger home – the “Morse mansion” at 330 West Water Street – in November 1922 for $6,000 (Deeds, Volume 85, Page 112). He sold his Lot 18 residence to one of his brothers for $5,000 (Deeds, Volume 85 Page 127).
Princeton Republic, Nov. 30, 1922 – “Frank Giese sold his fine residence on the corner of East Water and Fulton streets to his brother, Dr. Alfred Giese.”
… There’s another large Queen Anne home across Water Street from the Giese home.
August Warnke House, 103 West Water Street
Princeton founder Royal Treat lived on the southwest corner of Water and Fulton streets for about 10 years prior to moving to cranberry country in 1873. He sold the property and three other lots to former partner and fellow Princeton pioneer F.E. Wilde for $1,250 (Deeds, Volume 34, Page 116).
The Wildes sold to Ferdinand and Wilhelmine Raasch (Deeds, Volume 40, Page 217), who sold the north half of Lot 1 of Block 2 to August and Matilda Warnke of Germania in September 1903 (Deeds, Volume 61, Page 567).
Princeton Republic, March 21, 1912 – “August Warnke of Germania who intends to come here to make his home will erect a large residence opposite the home of Frank Giese on East Water Street.”
August operated the Germania mill for several years before following his brothers to Princeton. The Warnkes built the large house we see today at 103 West Water Street.
The Water Street property passed to Otto Warnke in July 1938 (Deeds, Volume 103, Page 63).
… I’m jaywalking back to Block 1 and the north side of Water Street.
August Ponto House, 122 West Water Street
Local historians should recognize the name of James Stimson. (The newspaper also spelled it Stimpson at times. To add to the confusion, Stimson’s sister married a man named Simpson.)
Stimson purchased the property about three miles east of Princeton owned by John Winchell, who historians say erected the first building, a tavern that served as classroom, church, and hall, in the future Princeton Township in 1848, at the corner of what is now Wisconsin highways 23 and 73, in 1851. Stimson was town assessor for over a decade.
The Stimson property included the site of the former Barnekow’s Supper Club (Bernie’s Italian Steakhouse) south of Highway 23-73 as well as farmland that today includes condo storage units and the Pleasant Valley cemetery north of Highway 23. The Highway 73 hill was known as the Stimson hill in his day.
In February 1892, “Uncle Jim,” as children and adults called him, purchased Lot 15 of Block 1 from Henrietta and Washington Whittemore for $200 (Deeds, Volume 49, Page 613).
Princeton Republic, Feb. 18, 1892 – “James H. Stimpson, having purchased from Wash Whittemore a building lot, viz, Lot 15, Block 2 east side, will in the near future erect a building thereon that will be a credit to the town. At least we expect to see another nice residence on East Water Street.”
Stimson, however, did not build on the lot. After retiring from farming in 1895, Stimson moved to Princeton and lived for 17 years with his granddaughter, Mrs. Robert Schaal, on Main Street.
He sold the Water Street property to August and Wilhelmina Ponto for $350 in March 1893 (Deeds, Volume 50, Page 391).
Ponto operated saloons in a few Water Street locations over the years. He also grew cranberries in the marsh just east of the city, about 18 bushels in 1889, and made sorghum syrup, about 2,500 gallons in 1896 with the help of a steam-powered crusher for the first time.
Princeton Republic, April 12, 1894 – “Aug. Ponto will soon have a nice house erected on east Water Street. By the way August came within three votes of an election for town treasurer at the late election.”
Princeton Republic, June 28, 1894 – “Another attraction on East Water Street that is fast drawing to completion is a neat residence being erected by Aug. Ponto. It is built in an attractive style and will make a pleasant home for August. We hope that immense comfort awaits August when he takes possession of his new residence.”
Princeton Republic, July 4, 1895 – “The family of conductor DeReamer arrived Monday afternoon and will occupy the Ponto residence on East Water Street during the summer.”
Ponto opened the house to tenants until selling the house and Lot 15 to Lena Herzke for $2,012 in July 1909 (Deeds, Volume 70, Page 31).
Charles Nickodem House, 216 West Water Street
The original house that stood on Lot 10 of Block 2 was built by George Long in the early 1870s. It was here that his widow, Ellen (Myers) Long, slit the throat of 11-year-old Harvey Whittemore because of an illicit affair with his father and hid the body in a basement well before dumping it along the river in 1883. She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. She served about 18 years before being pardoned by the governor who said she was insane when the murder occurred.
Long and her children sold the Water Street property to “Clemens Nikodym” for $750 in September 1895 (Deeds, Volume 46, Page 637).
Clemens Nikodym was Charles Nickodem, my great-grandfather, a former railroad worker who operated a popular general store with his brother, Fred, at 545 West Water (most recently Botanica Spa) early in the 20th century. I have written previously about the Nickodem brothers, who were both involved in community and church projects.
Princeton Star, March 25, 1903 – “Charley Nickodem is contemplating the erection of a new residence this summer on the lot upon which he is residing.”
Princeton Star, May 20, 1903 – “Charley Nickodem’s new home is looming up in the east part of town.”
Princeton Star, July 15, 1903 – “Charley Nickodem has his new house nearly completed.”
The Nickodems sold Lot 10 in June 1938 (Deeds, Volume 103, Page 27) to Water Street merchant Hyman and Clara Swed, who sold to widow Hulda Zuehls (Deeds, Volume 103, Page 28), who had farmed with her husband Herman in St. Marie Township for many years.
… Let’s cross Water Street and head south on Howard to the intersection with Harvard Street.
William Page House, 128 Harvard Street
F. William Page paid Washington Whittemore $400 for the south half of Lot 6 and all of Lots 7 and 10 in Block 1 in March 1892 (Deeds, Volume 50, Page 45).
Princeton Republic, April 28, 1892 – “Wm. Page will commence the erection of a residence on his lot recently purchased of Mr. F. Raasch, fronting on Harvard Street. Mr. Page will erect a substantial residence for his own use.”
Princeton Republic, June 9, 1892 – “Ground was broken yesterday for cellar and foundation of the new house about to be erected by Wm. Page on Block 1.”
Princeton Republic, November 17, 1892 – “Wm. Page has recently moved into his new residence and become a worthy citizen of Princeton.”
Page was a very successful farmer whose property on the southeast edge of Princeton Township near Green Lake was depicted in an illustration in 1875.
He sold to William Radtke for $3,000 in July 1915 (Deeds, Volume 76, Page 108).
… We can also add the Gray Lion Inn on Harvard Street to our Queen Anne list.
Fred Giese House, 115 Harvard Street
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 Mabel Gray opened in 1989.
The beautiful, large 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.
Giese purchased the property, Lot 5 and a slice of Lot 4 in Block X, from dentist Horace Straight for $1,000 in October 1897 (Deeds, Volume 53, Page 610).
Princeton Republic, April 20, 1899 – “Fred Giese commenced work on his lots Tuesday. He will remove the residence now standing on the north lot to the south one, and where the old house now stands, he will build a new one.”
Princeton Republic, May 18, 1899 – “T.J. Paull and crew are moving the house formerly owned by H.L. Straight to the lot adjoining on the south (116 Wisconsin Street).”
The property remained with the Giese family into the 1960s.
… Strap on your jet pack, time travelers, and we’ll zip over to Farmer Street for another Queen Anne.
Charles Craw House, 410 S. Farmer St.
After Oliver N. Harmon built a house on Lot 6 of Block O on South Farmer Street, he sold neighboring Lot 3 to fellow carpenter Charles Craw for $150 in September 1891 (Deeds, Volume 49, Page 446).
Craw, a Civil War veteran, had a hand and hammer in many residential and commercial construction jobs in Princeton for four decades. He held the contract to erect the flatiron building at the corner of Short and Water streets (today Short Street Market) in 1893 for dentist Horace Straight, for example. He also built a cottage on Lot 2 on the southeast corner of Farmer and Wisconsin streets (since replaced) for himself in Block O in 1882.
After purchasing Lot 3 from Harmon in 1891, Craw erected the residence we see today at 410 South Farmer Street.
Princeton Republic, Nov. 19, 1891 – “Charley Craw has the foundation completed and part of the frame up as the commencement of a neat cottage to be completed in modern style. He is building on South Farmer Street.”
Princeton Republic, April 28, 1892 – “Charley Craw is moving into that new cottage home he has erected on Farmer Street.”
Princeton Republic, May 10, 1892 – “Charley Craw is just bringing out the artistic points on that new cottage. It will be a pretty home, and the inside conveniences are excellent.”
When Craw moved his family to Milwaukee in 1914, he sold the Farmer Street property to Fred Schrank for $1,900 (Deeds, Volume 75, Page 450).
Lot 3’s backyard abuts my backyard. I remember Romy and Helen Sondalle (Deeds, Volume 120, Page 467, July 26, 1949, $4,700) living in the house during my childhood.
Romy worked for Speed Queen, I believe. They had a nice garden and at least one large, wooden colony birdhouse for purple martins. My father and Romy liked watching those birds, though my dad’s metal apartment house, purchased through his Princeton Hardware employee discount, I expect, was not nearly as popular as Romy’s. I no longer see purple martins swooping through Charley Craw’s former backyard.
… We’re hiking a couple of blocks southeast to a true turn-of-the-century neighborhood.
Block R was the last of the Treat & Parsons Addition blocks to be developed and remained an attractive, wooded grove through the 1890s. The 1892 illustrated map of Princeton shows a building on the northeast corner of the block that I believe sat east of Howard Street. The entire block is vacant in the 1901 plat book map.
Princeton Republic, July 18, 1889 – “Mr. Wm. Whittemore gave a birthday party on behalf of her little girl Saturday that was turned into a picnic in the shade of the trees on Block R. Some 48 juveniles participated.”
Princeton Republic, Sept. 26, 1889 – “C.P. and R.P. Rawson have been trimming the oaks on Block R until that block is metamorphosed into a park beautiful to behold.”
Longtime street commissioner and restauranteur Chris Piper passed all 10 Block R lots to his daughter, Medora, “Dora,” in March 1895 (Deeds, Volume 53, Page 260). She sold Block R to Elisa and Florence Hall for $50 in February 1901 (Deeds, Volume 58, Page 584).
Lots 1-4 East, 203 Dover Street
The housing boom on Block R began when the Halls sold the east half of Lots 1 and 4 to William Huenerberg for $120 in April 1901 (Deeds, Volume 60, Page 4).
Princeton Republic or Star, April 11, 1901 – “Wm. Henneberg has purchased Lot 1 in Block R, on Howard Street, of Elisha Hall and will erect a two-story frame building thereon this spring. He will commence work on the foundation next week.”
Huenerberg operated a gas station at the corner of Fulton and Dover streets that today is part of the Princeton police station and city hall. The Huenerbergs were joined by several neighbors before they sold their house on Block R to August Salzwedel for $1,600 in April 1910 (Deeds, Volume 70, Page 271).
Lots 1-4 West, 211 Dover Street
Builder William Gorr purchased the west half of Lots 1 and 4 and Lots 2 and 3 from the Halls for $350 in June 1901 (Deeds, Volume 60, Page 92) and immediately sold the west half of Lots 1 and 4 to his father, John Gorr, for $100 (Deeds, Volume 60, Page 93).
Princeton Star, March 5, 1902 – “John Gorr has commenced the erection of a residence in the south east section of the city.”
After John passed in 1909, his heirs sold their interests in Lots 1 and 4 in Block R back to William Gorr (Deeds, Volume 75, Page 514) in April 1912, and he sold to William Bierman, father of carpenters Arthur and Otto Bierman, for $400 in August 1912 (Deeds, Volume 73, Page 128).
William Bierman lived at 211 Dover when the 1920 census was taken.
The property remained in the Bierman family until Arthur Bierman sold the property to Donald and Margaret Marshall in September 1931 (Deeds, Volume 93, Page 230).
Lots 2-3 East, 221 Dover Street
William Gorr built the house on the east half of Lot 2 in 1902 for his bride-to-be in 1902.
Princeton Star or Republic, March 12, 1902 – “Mr. W.A. Gorr and Miss Bertha Dalmann were united in marriage by Rev. A.G. Hoyer last Wednesday evening. The young couple commenced keeping house at once in the new residence recently completed by Mr. Gorr.”
Princeton Star, April 16, 1902 – “William Gorr is finishing the porch to his new residence.”
The house remained Gorr’s home until he passed there following a heart attack in August 1942. His daughter and sole heir, Irene (Dumke), sold the property to Alvin and Lillian Hebbe in April 1944 for $2,600 (Deeds, Volume 110, Page 268).
Lots 2-3 West, 229 Dover Street
William Gorr built the house on the west half of Lots 2-3 on the southeast corner of Dover and Clinton streets and sold it to John Krueger, who farmed and worked as a hostler at the Merrill livery stable on Main Street, for $1,400 in October 1907 (Deeds, Volume 69, Page 22).
In addition to the several homes he built here, Gorr served the community as village president and as mayor for 10 years. He was a county board supervisor for 33 years. He argued strenuously in favor of concrete sidewalks and paving Water Street in 1916. As alderman he opposed efforts to expand the number of liquor licenses beyond the limit of one per 100 residents. He played a key role in the development of the City Park, bandstand and Community Hall. He did the mason work on the four brick entrances to the park. He passed in August 1942.
“We will all miss Bill Gorr, who was known for his cheerful disposition and upright character,” the obituary in the Times-Republic stated. “In his various official duties, he always put forth every effort to serve the best interests of the community and many of the advantages our community now enjoys are due to his untiring efforts as a public official.”
Lot 5, 615 S. Howard Street
The Halls sold Lots 5 and 6 of Block R to Erich Mueller for $150 in July 1901 (Deeds, Volume 60, Page 113).
Princeton Republic, July 18, 1901 – “Erich Mueller has purchased two lots on Block R of Elisha Hall. Mr. Mueller talks of building thereon.”
Mueller’s talk did not turn into action. He did not build. He sold Lot 5 to G.J. Krueger, his partner in a dry goods firm on Water Street for several years and first president of the First National Bank of Princeton, for $550 (Deeds, Volume 67, Page 98). Krueger employed the Gorrs to build the house we see today at 615 South Howard Street.
Princeton Republic, March 5, 1902 – “The Gorr brothers are erecting a house on South Howard Street for G.J. Krueger which is to be occupied by Julius Mauger.”
Krueger sold the property to Ignatz and Josepha Schultz for $925 in October 1910 (Deeds, Volume 70, Page 465).
Lot 9, 629 S. Howard Street
The Halls sold the east half of Lots 8 and 9 of Block R to Ferdinand “Frank” Spooner for $100 in February 1902 (Deeds, Volume 60, Page 348) and the west half to him in July 1902 (Deeds, Volume 60, Page 519).
Princeton Star, March 12, 1902 – “Frank Spooner is building a house on Block R. That part of town is being built up rapidly.”
Princeton Star, Oct. 29, 1902 – “Frank Spooner has moved into his new house in the southeastern part of the village.”
I always thought of Queen Anne as a style of larger houses, but this home is also listed as a Queen Anne in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s property inventory.
The Spooners sold Lots 8 and 9 to Herman and Emma Golz for $1,600 in April 1912 (Deeds, Volume 72, Page 489).
Lot 10, 628 S. Clinton Street
The Halls sold the west half of Lots 7 and 10 to Sam Roguske for $120 in April 1906 (Deeds, Volume 67, Page 99). The Roguskes built the house at 628 South Clinton Street.
Carpenter John Roguske’s family resided there in 1920, 1930 and 1940, per the U.S. census. The Roguske family continued to own the property into the 1950s when John’s son, Ed, and his wife Rose Roguske resided in the Clinton Street home.
Lot 6, 616 S. Clinton Street
The couple that built Block R’s oldest house also erected its newest.
After William and Johanna Huenerberg sold the corner lot and house at Dover and Howard in April 1910, they bought Lot 6 from Erich and Wilhelmina Mueller for $150 in November 1910 (Deeds, Volume 70, Page 520) and erected the house we see at 616 South Clinton Street.
Huenerberg’s business and community interests extended well beyond the gas station he operated at Fulton and Dover streets for 16 years. Born in Germany, he arrived in Princeton in 1897 and found work as a cigarmaker for Ziebell Brothers at their west side factory, then Richard Miller at his factory on Short Street, and later operated his own stand for a time.
He was an alderman for over twenty years and was not afraid to speak his mind, often clashing with business and tavern owners. He lobbied against selling the city electric department and for paving Water Street. He was one of the charter stockholders in the Princeton Chick Hatchery and a member of the War Dads during World War II.
Huenerberg died in September 1944. “William Huenerberg will always be remembered for his conscientious attention to his duties as a city official as well as for his kindly disposition and the sterling qualities that attracted the friendship of all who had the privilege of being acquainted with him,” his obituary in the Princeton Times-Republic noted.
The Huenerbergs sold Lot 6 in May 1944 to Fred and Elsie Keenlance for $2,600 (Deeds, Volume 108, Page 491).
That completes our tour of Block R, where large oaks and neat Queen Anne style houses still provide a glimpse of Princeton’s past and the talents of its early 20th-century carpenters.
Thank you for caring and reading about local history.