"FIRST STREET NORTH"
The street view at the bottom of this page is looking from the Library toward the Witter House and taken about 1896. The middle view is the same street taken from the same location as it appears in 1934.
The two story brick building, known as the Rowland Building was built in 1911. It replaces the two small buildings in the earlier picture, the first being a saloon and the second a feed store. The fire station shown at the left in the middle picture replaces the livery stable shown on the bottom picture. The balance of the stores to the left on the bottom picture between the livery stable and corner were all removed and the one story brick auto sales and garage and oil station beyond it have taken their place. Comparing the right side of these two pictures, the brick building at the right was for many years the home of the "Wood County Reporter", it is now the home of the I. O. O. F. lodge. The next building to the right beyond it is now the "Armory", beyond that, towards the Witter are the Club rooms of the Eagles. The Armory and the Eagles replaced many old structures that are not shown on the right hand of the lower picture.
"COURT HOUSE AND GROUNDS"
The picture on this page is the Court House as it is to-day. The picture is in the center of the page was taken about twenty years ago at least, and possibly longer, judging from the height of the trees. It shows the tower with the original round dome.
About 15 years ago a change was ordered and the court house was enlarged, as shown on the small insert at the right, and the entrance was placed in the base of the tower as it is to-day. The dome was changed to a steeple shaped top that was well in keeping with the pointed arches over the windows.
The present "castle" like top of the tower may represent something artistic but hardly fits a brick construction with so many angular lines, in the face of its construction.
The dwelling nearest the court house to the left was known generally as "Closuit's" dwelling, the next in the middle was Dwight Huntington's sporting store and metal working shop. Dwight Huntington was a very skilled mechanic and could "fix" anything. The building on the corner was known best as occupied by "Mal" Gordon, as a millinery store. On the side of this in the road, Geo. T. Rowland & Son operated the platform scales for the benefit of the general public. Showing faintly beyond these buildings on the rise of ground, stood the H. A. Sampson residence. This was built about 1858 by Ahira B. Sampson, father of Henry A. Sampson. In this residence the Sampson family lived until the county bought it and moved it away in 1929.
The picture at the bottom of the page shows the Court House and the adjacent grounds facing the corner of Baker and First St. N.
This work of parking had the backing of the City Park Board, who worked with the county members to bring this work to its real culmination. Paul Pratt, as chairman of the Park Board is entitled to the thanks of the community for the work he and his board have done about the city.
"FIRST STREET NORTH"
The bottom view is taken from the Witter and First National Bank south towards Oak street. It was taken in 1896 but could have been in 1892 as well.
On the right is the "Witter" before the enlargement and the next store was "Slocum's" Drug store. He owned the telephone exchange. This drug store is the same store as shown in the original reprint from a "stereo" from which it is copies. Shown on page 10 of the "Album". The next frame building has been store and saloon and various occupancies, and is now a cafe. The next shows a tall frame two story building that Frank Pomainville, father of the Doctor Frank Pomainville, move in there about 1875, after the fire of 1873, and rented as a store. The frame building next to it was originally a one story, when H. A. Herschleb bought it of "Tommy" Barnes. Next to this small frame building was a street opening, running to the river at which the ferry landed. For years it served as a landing for the fire engine to pump water from the river. Next to the street was a one story frame building that served Lem Kromer for years as his express office. Later it was remodeled into a photograph gallery and another story was added. The balance of the row, though indistinct, were one story frames to the street at Daly's.
The left side of the street of this old print shows the First National Bank, with the addition which J. D. Witter built in 1889, to house the first start of the T. B. Scott Free Public Library. The dog standing patiently at the door of the bank was owned by "Bill Scott". This old gentlemen was never seen without this dog. Next in the doorway in the center of the group of three is Glen Williams, son of Attorney G. L. Williams, whose office was on the second floor. To the right of his is Dennis Conway, then a young attorney in Mr. William's office. The other to the left is unidentified. Down stairs was a small store and the telegraph office.
Next was the "Central House" which was a large story frame, which won its early reputation as managed by "Rika". This was the familiar name given the manager. It was owned by Mrs. Boguslawski and sister, and "Rika" or Rebecca was the sister that ran the house. The other sister did the cooking. It was a successful rival to the Witter in the days when Hathaway was the landlord of the "Witter" and "Rika" and her sister ran the Central House. Marvin Lynn "ran" the bus to the Depot on the west side to which all referred as the "Milwaukee" depot.
In the small insert is a string of horse drawn busses of the "good old days", waiting for the eleven o'clock morning train that brought the mail. It had various hours of arrival but when this was taken it was between ten and eleven in the morning. Hathaway's in some way obtained first position for his bus and McGlynn, then Central House and Lyon House ran a bus, and several others met the train. Marvin Lynn drove the Central bus and the arguments between he and Hathaway would draw up to, but never quite reach the striking point. As the little kids said in their taunts "one is afraid and the other dasant".
On the left of the picture at the bottom of the page, the old band building and annex have been taken out and an oil station has replaced it. The several changes on down the block are as many as on the right and distinctly evident. Not enough of the old frame building show in the old print to make comparison interesting.
In the picture at the top of the page the street is shows as it is today. The Witter has been enlarged and the drug store is now a barber shop. The cafe is next and the Pomainville building is the same as in the old picture. The Herschleb building is the two story frame building of to-day. The old Kromer building is now the photograph gallery. The large two story brick building originally build by J. A. Cohen has replaced many of the old frame buildings of the earlier picture.
"THE RABLIN HOUSE"
John Rablin built this fine hotel. Everything had to be hauled in by team and he began it in 1868 and finished it in 1869. It was the pride of John Rablin and was most certainly a fine thing for the town. It almost "Goes without saying" that it was a loosing venture but it was greatly enjoyed by the public. It burned June 11, two days before the flood of 1880. It's ruins you observed in the old pictures of the flood shown under that heading. Who all the "bloods" were that appear posing in the front are unknown to the author, but your relater is informed that the man in the buggy to the right, driving, was John Rablin.
It was a well patronized boarding house of its day and built in 1872 and is also shown on the Map on page 30 of the Album, and being located just a little south of the junction of Drake and Second Street north, not quite in line with the swimming pool of to-day. It burned January 25th, 1882 and was not rebuilt.
These three buildings easily take a whole volume to rehearse their events but that is not possible here. The Library was first built by the city at the urgent suggestion of Frank Wood, then mayor. It was begun in 1891 and finished in 1892. The second floor was the council chamber room, and the first floor was devoted to the local fire department. With the consolidation of the city and the building of a separate fire station with regular paid department, the T. B. Scott Free Public Library was given the use of the whole building which greatly increased and benefited the work of the Library. The tower clock was made by the Howard Watch Co.
Between First Street and Second Street North
The top picture was taken about 1894. In the center of the picture is the Flat-iron, with the small frame building with not less than three occupants in it.
John Wagner was the owner for many years, and had a cabinet and undertaking shop. The point end of the building had one room in which he stored the old and ugly shaped wood coffins that gave one the shivers. The youngsters never bothered that building at all.
At one time Mrs. J. D. Witter came from some Federation meeting with the urge to do some "uplifting" and furnished the funds and asked the Methodist minister to take charge and establish some sort of a public reading room and coffee shop for temperance refreshments for the young men and boys of the town. It was an evident desire to plant the seeds for a Y M C A of the future but it did not survive her contributions and went through one winter and did, most certainly, help some boys spend a nice time.
The changes between 1894 and the conditions in 1907 when the First National Bank built the new buildings shown, are so apparent that they need not be brought into the discussion. The First National Bank's new building was the first move away from the old and original location, before going over to the west side.
Cement walks replaced the old plank walks of the top picture and brick paving covered the dirt roads. Automobiles are in evidence as against the loads of hay and horse drawn vehicles.
"SECOND STREET NORTH"
We have no old time picture to show as an off-setting this picture taken in 1935. A short description of the old buildings will have to suffice. Beginning at the corner of Oak and First St., on the right was a two story frame building occupied by John McCarthy as a blacksmith shop. His family lived on the second floor. Adjoining his was a one and two story frame store occupied originally as a furniture and undertaking store by M. C. Warren and followed by his son-in-law, George Baker and later by John Ragan, and still later by F. S. Gill Paint store, and occupied by him until he built his present store at 160 2nd St. N.
The present undertaking firm of George W. Baker & Son follows this original establishment. Warren Baker is the grandson and Royal is the great grandson of this M. C. Warren. Then followed several small frame buildings of various occupancy, to John Smith's brick store. Adjoining this was "Daly's Opera House." After this burned January 13, 1922, Frank Gill built her present store in that location. This picture shows all the changes that have taken place up to the present time.
"SOUTH SIDE EAST GRAND AVE BETWEEN
SECOND STREET AND THE RIVER"
The lower right hand picture shows this location as of the days prior to 1888 when F. J. Wood & Bro. was the firm name under which they conducted the drug and notions business. Walter Wood was F. J. Wood's younger brother and took a course as druggist and entered into business there.
It was the custom of the merchants, where their stock would permit, to haul it all out onto the side walk for display. This stock of baby carriages and carts along the street and the hammocks and wall paper display, so evident in the picture, was a usual custom.
Anyone familiar with the faces, can locate the ones they knew. Mr. E. Wheelan is easily seen as the fourth man from the corner and seated, towards the bridge. Walter Wood is standing by the sign post. The tall bare headed gentleman in front with the full beard is Nels Larson of to-day. You will notice the warning over the bridge that there is a "$20 fine riding or driving faster than a walk on or across this bridge".
This building was moved across the street and to the north of the Wood County National Bank and at present occupied "Loock's" grocery. Street number is 161 Second St. S. The picture above at the right shows the building at the present date occupying the space where the drug store and other frame buildings stood.
F. J. Wood built the two story, three ground floor occupancy building and later added the three story [1905 added in pencil] building, the third story of which the Elks lodge occupied for many years. The Post office was located on the first floor until it was moved to a new location on the west side in 1925.
A few feet from the Wood Block is the home of the Wood County Telephone Company. The Wood County Telephone Co. is the outgrowth of a popular movement of local citizens, who were formerly subscribers and users of the telephones owned by the Wisconsin Telephone Co. The first exchange consisted of 80 telephones and Chas. Slocum was the local manager with Lavina Rablin as the operator. This was located in the drug store building next to the "Witter House" of today. This was the original store built by Dr. G. F. Witter which has been discussed previously. The exchange grew and took is some of the nearby town until the telephone users in Grand Rapids and Centralia incorporated the Wood County Telephone Co. May 13, 1895. The original subscribers were: J. A. Gaynor, E. P Arpin, H. H. Voss, S. A. Spafford, E. T. Harmon, Geo T. Williams, F. J. Wood, John Farrish, Nels Johnson, F. Mackinnon, Chas. Briere, E. Oberbeck, Corriveau & Garrison, Frank Garrison, J. D. Witter, L. M. Nash, G. J. Jackson. Jan. 16, 1896 was the stockholders meeting at which J. A. Gaynor was elected president; F. Mackinnon, Vice-president; E. Oberbeck Sec; E. P Arpin, Treas. W. M. Martin, General Manager.
Extensive improvement and the rapid growth required the building of a new building at 230 2nd St. S. in 1917 at the cost of between Six and Seven thousand dollars. The Present officers are: Guy O. Babcock, President, A. U. Marvin, Vice-President; Fred. W. Krueger, Treasurer; E. B. Smart, Secretary and Manager, who with F. W. Calkins and W. T. Nobles form the board of directors. There are over 500 share holders in the local telephone company.
Next beyond the telephone company is the Grand Rapids Lodge 693 B. P. O E. The lodge was installed April 24, 1901. Its first officers were: Exalted Ruler, W. J. Conway; Esteemed Leading Knight, A. G. Miller; Esteemed Loyal Knight, Otto R. Roenius; Esteemed Lecturing Knight, J. C. Koniff, Sec. J. A. Jaeger; Treas. I. P., Witter; Tiler, Sam Church; Esq. A. L. Ridgman; Inner Guard, W. G. Scott; Chaplin, L. M. Schlatterer. Trustees were O. T. Hougen, E. Oberbeck, W. H. Carey.
The Elks Club was opened Feb. 11 and dedicated April 17 and became the permanent home of the B. P. O. E. located at 240 Second St. S.
The picture at the lower left hand corner shows the end of Grand Avenue Bridge and the beginning of East Grand Avenue. To the right are the buildings described and shown in the upper right hand corner and in the distance on the right hand is the Post Office. To the left on this picture is the three story building of the Wood County Reality [sic] Company and also the two story building at the intersection of East Grand Avenue and South 2nd St. The Wood County National Bank is in the center of the picture to the left.
"EAST GRAND AVENUE BETWEEN SECOND AND THIRD"
The top picture shows the corners of East Grand Ave. with 3rd St. Mr. Gougas residence is to the right of the stores between 3rd and 2nd Streets to the left with the position of the oil station of today. The second picture does not show the Gougas dwelling, which had been removed, but does show the building known as the Bogager building between the Ideal Theater and 2nd St. The picture at the bottom shows the Northwest corner, where East Grand Ave. intersects 2nd St. This property is owned by the Wood County Reality [sic] Company and the building to the left of it is also part of the same property. This picture also shows the buildings as they were before the remodeling of this block in 1935. The corner occupied by Wm. Gleue Shoe store was the first home of the Wood County National Bank. Present Wood County National Bank Building occupies the original location of the Robert Farrish & Bro. Store that for many years was a local trading place.
"EAST GRAND AVENUE AND INTERSECTION OF SECOND"
The top picture of the left side of the street looking from Third shows the Bogager Buildings. The middle picture shows the street as it is to-day, cleared of these two frame buildings, and occupied as an oil station.
The bottom picture is a view looking North on First and Second streets at the intersection with East Grand Avenue. The Wood County National Bank is at the right and the Gleue building described on previous page on the left. In the middle of the picture is the Flat-iron building. In the center and in the distance is the Library building. On the right, after passing the Wood County Bank building, is a frame store building that was formerly the drug store of F. J. Wood and Bro. shown and described on page 25. It was moved to this location by F. J. Wood when he built the Wood Block. The next small building was at one time the residence of Horace Sweeney and also served as the office for his livery stable located in the rear. The other buildings are the same as the early print shown on page 29 of the buildings between 111 South 2nd Street and 181 South.
"POST OFFICE AND FORMER SITE"
The top picture shows the face of the block before the frame buildings were removed. The Balderston house at the extreme right of the picture had been there 72 years and was originally built by Mrs. John E. Daly's father. The Balderston family lived there until it was sold for the Post Office site. Dwellings were torn down or removed and Dr. Mills moved the house showing in the center of the picture to what is now 450 East Grand Ave. The dwelling on the corner to the left, at one time occupied by W. H. Drumb, one of the former editors of the "Tribune", was torn down. To the old settlers this was the home of R. W. Lyons, one of the early pioneers whose livery stable is shown on the map page 30.
The Post Office was ordered built by the Federal Government to a cost of $125,000 but conditioned on the city providing the land. Public spirited citizens contributed to this purchase. The post office construction began on March 7th, 1932 and opened to the public March 1st, 1933. A. L. Fontaine was the postmaster.
"SECOND STREET BETWEEN OAK AND GRAND AVENUE"
The picture on the top right hand side is the west side of 2nd St. S. between Oak and East Grand Ave. This picture was taken about 1905. First to the right is J. E. Daly Drug & Jewelry store, next, at one time was the barber shop of L. Fournier. The next store was Chas. Gougas saloon and the two story building was once the Men's Furnishing store of Ben Silber. The little space between that and the stone building was variously occupied. Before it was built, this space was the passageway to the barrel of spring water that came from the water barrel of Joe Whitney. He got it from a spring at the foot of the hill. The stone building was occupied by Schumacher as a Lady's Ready to Wear and Dry Goods store. The next building is the Wood County Reality the corner of which was occupied by the Wood County National Bank. The picture at the top to the left shows the many changes. The Fournier building is absorbed by the Daly Store and Flats. The Penny Co. occupies the building built by Guy O. Babcock and F. W. Kruger. Between Penney's and the Stone buildings was built the Sampson & Mullen store, now occupied by Gamble's Hardware. The stone building is a Radio and Barber Shop. The Reality building is occupied by the Sugar Bowl and the Wm. Gleue Shoe Store on the corner. The picture at the bottom of the left hand picture shows the first four stores with their newly decorated fronts of colored glass, that sets them off in high contrast with the two old buildings between them and the Wood County National Bank.
The insert is that of the H. Belanger & Bro. Grocery and Liquor Store with the "Reporter Office" on the Second floor. Music Hall occupied the space shown by the two story brick building at the left of this picture. The Belanger building occupied the next space shown by the one story building. Music Hall, but not this building burned in the fall of 1880. The building on the corner has been generally referred to as the Gardner Block. It was built by Geo. R. Gardner in 1883. The picture at the lower right hand corner is of today and taken to give a better idea of the buildings on the west side of the street looking north from the intersection of Oak and First St. N.
"MAP OF 1874"
I am under deep obligation to Mrs. Clara Rablin Nelson for the original map of which this copy is a photostat. It was first ordered made by her grandfather John Rablin. It precedes the Purdy Map by three years. The bird's eye effect is very fine and close study of it will be worth one's time. It contains a slight error. It numbers 19 as "Music Hall, R. C. Worthington Prop" and then placed the figure 19 across the street from number 12 which it called the bank also Worthington's. 19 and 12 are identical and the bank was on the first floor of Music Hall and the Hall was on the third floor.
Number 8 is Morrill's Tannery and the unnumbered factory in the next block south was Wagner's cabinet shop and chair factory. It is interesting to compare the number of buildings then in some blocks that are now built up entirely. The second floor was the home of the "Reporter" into which they moved in 1881.
The streets have some what different names than they have today. The intersection of the present Oak with 2nd and 1st St. N. was then called Oak, Center and Water St. Water St. continued from this triple intersection north to the Green Bay depot and beyond. Center St. is our 2nd St. of to-day. North of Oak, and to the south of Oak it was called Front St. and extended from its intersection with Oak, South along the river bank.
Eighth Ave., on this map is practically the Lincoln Street of to-day, except that there is not street between Grand Ave. and Oak St. of to-day. Milwaukee St. on this map is the 8th St. of to-day and College St. is the present 7th Street.
"THIRD STREET SOUTH"
The picture at the bottom was taken in 1896, looking north from the present location at 1210 Third St. S. The middle picture is from the same position and taken recently. The comparison of these two pictures shows the improved conditions and points out one of the main objectives of this work.
The picture of the three hospital buildings of the Riverview Hospital shows the original hospital, the white frame building, first to the right; the later brick and larger building in the center, and the Nurses Home, the third and last to the left. This was formerly owned by R. M. Rogers on Third Street and originally built by Wm. B. Neeves, a son of George Neeves, the founder of that section of town.
The First hospital was started by individual doctors in the frame building to the south. Previous to that they performed their work in their offices. In February 1904, this building was opened to the public. In 1911 on Dec. 23rd, the Riverview Hospital Association was organized and purchased the building and equipment and maintained a hospital. In 1915 the new brick hospital building was built and opened for service. In 1920 the Riverview Hospital Association bought the R. M. Rogers residence and moved it to the hospital location for the nurses home.
"PART OF EAST GRAND AVENUE"
The wood cut on the top of the page and the enlargement at the bottom of the page have to do with the past and present of what is now a part of East Grand Avenue and when it was known as "Vine" street. The wood cut is of land that was at the end of Vine street for Vine Street ended about at what is now 430 East Grand Avenue. Front that point on was just a garden spot on which Nelson and Kate Pepin, as she was intimately known, grew strawberries. This print was taken from an old copy of the Wisconsin Horticulturist, Vol. 111 No. 4 dated June 1898. This illustration was the first on the inside page and opened the article on the page and opened the article on "Strawberry Growing in the Valley of the Wisconsin".
The article goes on to say, "It shows a field of strawberries grown at Grand Rapids, Wis., by Nelson Pepin, on a piece of reclaimed swamp land. Five years ago this land was a mass of brush, logs, and stumps. Now it is a beautiful field, drained by ditches in which flows the purest spring water. ----- From about two acres they picked and sold over 8,000 quarts of berries last summer, not withstanding the fact that on the mornings of May thirty-first and June first there were severe frosts, which damaged the crop from one-third to one-half. These berries were sold in the local markets of Wood County and averaged about sixty-five cents net per sixteen-quart case. After deducting the cost of boxes and picking, made a net income of over $325.00 for two acres….."
Speaking about the "swamp and marsh land" this recalls that at the foot of the hill shown on map page 30, which begins east of the Green Bay Railroad yards and extends along irregularly to the Howe School and then on down at times parallel to Lincoln street and turns and follows on down to the river below the Northwestern Bridge, was a sand deposit that provided very fine pure spring water for many years to all the homes and some stores between this hill and the river.
At the old Arpin Home on Drake street and Dr. G. F. Witter's residence at about 321 Drake Street, with its decorative pool of stone drake's head spouting water, that came from a spring just at the edge of the residence of the old Wood Homestead at the corner of Drake and Washington. A spring that was in the road on the Baker Street hill at about 540 Baker Street brought water to the Witter House.
Another well known spring came from the hill and brought water to Frank Pomainville's saloon at what is about 238 First Street North. Another set of springs fed Vine Street and John Farrish residence at what is now 111 Third St. S.
A very well known spring came down from the hill into 231 and 241 Third Street south, then known as Joe Whitney's home and this was repiped down to what is now 169 2nd St. S. the old Lableaux building, where it was run into a large heavy open oak barrel on the outside of the store building, then known as "Zotuit Lanoiette" (sound as if the first name was spelled to sound like "Zootweet") a one time Biron mill workman who came into town and started this saloon.
People came from all around and Fred Jackson from the west side, could be seen almost daily with his little tin pail coming across the bridge for his spring water. The drinking water on the west side was really bad, tainted with marsh and iron, and finally drove that side to put in a water system and pump from the river.
The springs would be located and then boxed and spruce logs be bored with about a two inch hole and held by an iron band around the ends to keep in from splitting as there was a short iron pipe that would fit tightly and joined the two logs. In time the tree roots would fine their way into these log pipes and fill them so full of roots that that section would have to be taken up and a new pipe laid, but at no time did any one use a metal pipe of any kind. There was a quantity of iron in this water but it was very slight and probably a benefit.
The other source of water supply was on top of the hill all along east of this ridge and all that was necessary to get good drinking water was to use an iron pipe with a drive point and go down ten to twelve feet and get fine drinking water that was soft and served for all purposes. Set a small "pitcher pump" on this and you had water anywhere you wished to drive.
When the city water came in and the sewers were placed so far down below the old water level, then the water supply went down below the level of the wells and very little of the old water supply is to be had. There is a level of "hard-pan" containing plenty of iron, that if driven into spoils the water.
The picture at the middle of the page shows how the same "swamp" of Kate Pepin's time, looks to-day and familiar to all. This picture covers practically all of the land shown in the "strawberry patch", and that is now a part of East Grand Ave.
"BIRDS EYE VIEW FROM HOWE SCHOOL"
The bottom picture was taken from a work in paper binding in some ten parts, that covered scenic spots along the Wisconsin River with a short sketch to each view. This view was taken from the Howe School in 1902 and is looking in a northerly and westward direction. The small print at the right shows the appearance as it was in 1933, from practically the same position and shows the evident change.
"BREWERIES AND FIRST COURT HOUSE"
The second picture from the top to the right is interesting from two points. First it is the first brewery and second because it shows the first court house for this county.
The brewery was built by a man named Schmidt about 1859 and was bought by Jacob Lutz and Bro. in 1880. The brother's name was David. It operated under the firm title and was known in this locality as "Lutz Brewery". Jacob Lutz was a jovial German inclined to be rather farther around than up and down. He had a high pitched falsetto voice and spoke a pleasant broken English with a German accent.
Jake was a breeder of jersey milk cows and annually took the first prize at the fall fair held where the Athletic Field is now located.
The brewery buildings included, besides the brewery itself, the residence for the families and the necessary barns and barrel sheds. The old time beer wagon, built with heavy side rails and open construction was a familiar sight and all brewers prided themselves on the fine horses they sent out with their wagons. The big brewers in Milwaukee and Chicago rivaled each other at the stock shows and decorated their horses with a collar that had a peculiar long pointed top from which all kinds of tassels and decorations were fixed. Horses manes and tails were braided up with various colored ribbons in keeping with the color of the horses. No brewery team was considered worth recognizing that was not perfectly matched. Roans, jet blacks, bays, dappled greys were the favorites. In the Chicago shows their rivals were the packing houses, and fours and sixes were among the winners.
This was a favorite place for J. D. Witter and "Squire" Chase to leave town and meet "Old Jake" in their serving room for a nice little game of cards of the German variety and you would think none of them had a cent left in the world the way they would quarrel over points. They might spend all-told, fifty cents. "Jere" drove a sorrel horse to a single seated open buggy, so well known that where the horse was seen the world knew J. D. was close at hand.
The "Squire" thought he was a judge of horses and annually he was sent by "J. D." down into Illinois to buy a "spanking fine team" and to my certain knowledge, I never knew him to bring back but one good team, a pair of blacks, for which he had been soaked way up near a thousand dollars. It was long ago and perhaps this chatter is out of place but as the Radio announcers call it "the human side of the news", the Boswell of any character as prominent as J. D. Witter and his partner Squire Chase, is always interesting. They were human beings with all the vanities and aggravating traits of character as any one of to-day who is really alive. They made friends and as many enemies but, as Holmes said, he reserved the right to talk about his friend because he had to permit them the right to talk about him
This genial old German's brewery burned July 23rd, 1891. It was located about twenty rods or what is easier to most folks of to-day, about a city block in from First street north, turning to the left at the Sampson Canning Co. plant on the river and walking towards the Railroad bridge.
This picture's historical value is increased because at the right in rather faint outline is what was once the first court house. There was much squabble about where this should be and the county located the "county seat" in several places provided a site was given, but none seems to be forthcoming.
Then Rablin finally donated this site just opposite First Street North at about 1230, and on the river side of the road. It is indicated on the map on page 30 as number "1". It was built in 1864.
The whole structure was the usual light frame construction and the jail was a "joke". Henry Rablin recounts seeing one of the prisoners digging his way out underneath and get away. They never did get him.
While it was the first court house, about the only county officer who kept his records there, was the sheriff, on account of the jail. The other county officers kept their records where ever it suited their personal occupation. The first court sessions were held in the Magnolia House as has already been noted and the first County Judge was Joseph Wood.
In 1882 the present court house, page 21, was built and the old Court House was sold to Rudolph Voight and later he sold it to David Lutz Jr. And it burned while he owned it during 1885.
For the opportunity to copy the original picture, I am again under many obligations to the kindness and deep interest that Mrs. Clara Rablin Nelson has taken in the compiling of this Album.
The picture on the top of page 33 is that built by the Twin City Brewery Co. It was incorporated by Jacob Lutz Jr., F. Pomainville, W. Froedtest, Charles J. Kiewert, August F. Backhaus and Theodore Knaps, for the purpose of manufacturing beer and a general brewing business. The brewery burned in 1895. For some years the ice house part was used by several ice dealers.
The two pictures at the bottom of the page are of the river bank and show the contrast between the rear of the buildings with and without the wall. The wall was built as a CWA project. It was one of the two projects completed. The wall in the middle picture shows the buildings from the bridge up stream to the Eagles Hall. The lower picture, taken before the wall was built, shows the buildings from Cohen's later Ragon's, 161 First St. North to the Eagles Hall at 341 First St. North. The properties with the wall are a decided improvement.
"FIRST BLOCKS AT WEST END OF BRIDGE"
The top picture, a copy from a card, shows the Mackinnon block on the left and near the end of the bridge in 1912. Street car stopped at this point. The streets are not paved.
The second picture, also a copy and enlargement from an original postcard, shows the buildings occupying the north side of the street between First and Second Avenues north, on the right of the picture. The first frame building was the original location of N. Johnson & Co. and the exact date of this building is somewhere about 1858 to 1860. The next beyond was built by F. Pomainville, a double store frame, brick veneered. For several years Gus Otto occupied it was a drug store, the second floor was used as a hall and afterwards divided into offices and apartments. This picture was taken some ten years earlier than the one above it.
To the north of the "N. Johnson" store were several frame saloons, between it and the Lefebvre building, already shown. No cards or photographs of these seem to be obtainable. The main street leading from the Bridge west, was for many years known as cranberry St. The west continuation of Cranberry street was known as Seneca Road. Cranberry street is the West Grand Avenue of to-day.
The large picture at the bottom of the page is of the "River Block" of to-day. It replaced the buildings on the north side of Cranberry street below First and Second Avenues north. The post office for several years, occupied the corner at First and Grand Avenue, before moving to the new Post Office in 1832 [sic]. The Consolidated bought the Mackinnon block and cleared it off into park space in 1925.
The Mackinnon building is show on the left hand side of the picture at the top of the page.
In the middle picture and also the card insert to the left, is shown the Centralia Hardware building as a single store in those days. The insert at the left of it shows the same hardware store but in addition to it is the two story frame building that Mr. Nash was used as a warehouse. This is the same frame building referred to as the Post Office, H. W. Jackson built. This insert card is dated 1907.
"WEST END OF BRIDGE"
The top picture gives a long range view of the changes that took place with the removal of the buildings on both sides, north and south of Grand Avenue. To the right it shows the parking where the Mackinnon block stood on the river bank, then just across on First Ave. N. is the River Block extending back and nothing is seen of the frame buildings that occupied the space in the middle of that block, to the Lefebvre building. The Lefebvre building shows only a part of it to the extreme right. This is show in full on page 57. Over the top of the River Block can be seen the Mead-Witter block.
To the left side of the picture is shown the Nash Hardware Co's extensive change, from a single store to the large store now occupying the entire space on the south side of Grand Avenue between First and Second Avenues. To the south it wiped out the two old frame buildings that were real old time land marks.
The picture at the bottom of the page shows the present day appearance of this part of the block that was at one time covered with a conglomeration of frame and brick buildings, some one story, and others two. It tells it's own story and allows us to work our way gradually up Grand Avenue from the bridge west.
"MEAD'S FORMAL GARDEN"
This beautiful garden is a part of the grounds of Belle Isle, a name that Mr. Mead has given the island, which was first indicated on our map on page 30. It is located at the south end of Wisconsin Rapids about eight blocks south on Second St. from the bridge. The bridge to this island, which is shown on the lower left hand picture was built in 1908, and was designed by a Mr. Manning. The composite picture at the top of the page shows the pool in the center, a tea house to the left and the residence to the right.
This garden is designed after an Italian garden, as might be found in and around the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. A peculiar condition existed, which was found in the excavations of these two cities. Where the lava from the volcano came in contact with the bronze figures, it oxidized them, so that the figure of Mercury in the center of the picture, and the faun in the right center of the picture are in deep bronze. These two figures are exact reproductions of those that are the property of the Italian government. While all the figures that were covered with the ashes, were not oxidized, but were found to retain their original color. Therefore the copy of Narcissus in this garden is white like the original, in the Pompeian garden.
The artistic fence makes no pretense to anything Italian, but fills in the space between the gateway and a bird sanctuary, which is not shown in this picture.
The purpose of the fauns distributed through the original Italian gardens, served as seats. This beautiful garden may be visited by the public during the blooming season with the permission of Mr. & Mrs. Mead, which will be most readily granted. Many people do not know that so beautiful a garden exists in our city.
"FIRST NATIONAL BANK"
The top picture was made from a very small print and shows what is most generally known as the "Dudley" barber shop and dwelling. It formerly belonged to Mrs. Knapp and was occupied by her for many years. She was a sister of J. D. Witter. This is the spot on which the First National Bank placed its new home as shown in the picture just below. This building was built by the "bank" in 1919.
The J. D. Witter's family are the principal owners of this institution and this ownership has followed on down from the days when J. D. Witter, Thos. E. Scott and George Neeves first founded the First National Bank in its original location opposite the Witter Hotel and previously described. The other original interests have passed into other hands. Mr. Witter's son Isaac is president, his son-in-law, George Mead is vice-president and his daughter Mrs. Mead is a heavy stockholder; certainly a record for 62 years.
It takes the two top pictures of the two pages to show the buildings in the block between Second and Third Avenues, on the north side of Grand Avenue as they were say about 1896 and to show the comparison with the MEAD-WITTER BLOCK of today, as is shown in the bottom picture on page 38.
The first building on the right of the picture on page 39 was originally built by L. Gross, sometime in the early sixties; his son Will Gross suggested that it was about 1860. The neighbors asked his father why he want "way out in the wood" to build a store. There was nothing beyond and nothing between this store and the river except a fringe of buildings facing the river as shown in our discussion of pages 34 and 35.
"H. W. JACKSON RESIDENCE"
The middle picture on this page shows the former home of H. W. Jackson and his family. This Mr. Jackson was the father of Fred Jackson, present alderman from the seventh ward of this city.
H. W. Jackson came to Centralia in 1854 and was the first postmaster and his term of office lasted twenty-one years. Certainly a stable form of government in those days when things once set "stayed put". Mr. Jackson undoubtedly built the first store building which was discussed in previous pages and located next to the Nash Hardware. It was removed by Mr. L. M. Nash in the enlargement of his company's store.
The exact date of the building of this house must be placed in about 1862, as this is as near as can be ascertained. Johnson & Hill Co. bought this property and built their present store building in 1912. This is shown in the picture at the bottom of this page. They moved out of the old buildings shown in the picture at the top of this page. Johnson & Hill Co. occupied the first building on the right, next came the Bank of Grand Rapids, built by J. D. Witter in 1887. The descriptions of the occupancies are as they were in the year 1896. Next beyond the bank was the dry goods and ladies furnishings stock of Johnson & Hill Co. F. E. Kellner, grocery store was next, and beyond that was Hollmuellers saloon, and next westward was a small tailor shop owned by A. Banker and at one time occupied by ""Dudley's" barber shop. Chamberlain's saloon was next, the double store on the corner was occupied by Worthington's drug store and on the corner was Corriveau store. At this time F. Garrison was a partner of George A. Corriveau, son of the founder George Corriveau. Later Frank Rourke operated a general store. This Corriveau store was built by George Corriveau in 1879, and then he moved from the Jackson building to this location, as near as can be traced.
Going back to the store building at the right of the picture at the top of this page, was the gen'l store of Frank Garrison, and of his father before him, Orestes Garrison. S. N. Whittlesey, now of the town of Port Edwards, was Frank Garrison's partner, for many years. It was in 1887, on March 10, that the business people of Centralia was surprised to hear that J. D. Witter had bought out Frank Garrison, and on that occasion walked into the store and handed Frank his check for $25,000, for him to turn over the key with all as it was, except the accounts.
This seemed the turning point in Frank Garrison's business career, for while he went into business with George Corriveau Jr., he was not particularly active and late became heavily interested in the Centralia Pulp & Water Power Company, and other mills and later became the manager of this and the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co.
"DIXON HOUSE CORNER"
The bottom picture was taken about 1894 and shows the residence of Mr. & Mrs. John Dixon. Mrs. Dixon was the real landlord of the Hotel and John helped. "Johnnie" Dixon had a big red cow that earned some reputation for herself and much trouble for Johnnie. You can see her likeness shown on page 43 , where she is feeding with the other cows in the grounds that later became Lyon's park.
The residence of the Dixon's was a boarding house for many years with the usual run of regular boarders and then Mrs. Dixon branched out for transient trade and did a very fine business. Later with her son Charles, she built the brick hotel and used the dwelling as an annex.
The middle picture shows this Dixon corner but with the Brick Hotel. It is also interesting because it shows when the band stand occupied the space where the City Hall is now located. It also shows Mrs. Germanson's dwelling at the left, before Gottschalk & Andersons built their brick store.
The top picture shows Gottschalk & Andersons brick block built in 1911, as it appears today. Mr. Anderson later sold out to his partner and August Gottschalk runs the business alone.
"FIRST STREET NORTH"