2005 Neillsville Tour

Photographs by Jim Rakovec


Many Thanks to Judy Hansen for coordinating this project!



Factual Contributors: Judy Hansen, Dolores Kenyon, Marge Rakovec, Lani Bartelt, Stan & Janet Schwarze.  A very special THANK YOU! goes to Bill Roberts, Dee Zimmerman and Howie Sturtz for their invaluable contributions. 

While traveling through Neillsville many of us have wondered about the history of some of the buildings, which were obviously built many years ago.  Some of us have looked up to see the wonderful antiquity of the structures more visible above the awnings. This then, is a tour of those buildings unique to Neillsville history and so very much a part of it.
For more history be sure to visit :  http://wvls.lib.wi.us/ClarkCounty/clark/news/OldDays/2007_5_16.htm
As always input is most welcome, please let us know where we have erred or if you have anything to add.


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(click on photos to enlarge them)




Notes & Memories


Neillsville Country Club

603 E. Division St.

#2 Neillsville Country Club, 603 E. Division St. The original Country Club, incorporated on April 15, 1926 was located on land leased from the railroad southwest of the City near the former Dells Dam on the Black River. The corporation was dissolved on February 15, 1930 when the railroad converted the land into a gravel pit. Ernie Snyder then developed a course named “Pinecrest” at the present site of Snyder’s Lake 7 miles west of Neillsville. Pinecrest was in operation until the clubhouse was destroyed by fire in 1936. Meanwhile, in October 1933, F.J. “Joe” Baer purchased the 60 acres of land which now make up the present Neillsville Country Club from Henry Markwardt, installed a course and named it “Hawthorne Hills”. He opened the course in the summer of 1934, but by August of 1935 a series of unfortunate events made it impossible for Mr. Baer to make his note payments on the $5,300.00 owed, forcing him to turn it over to the Neillsville Bank. Art Tangen from Eau Claire was hired to put the course back in order. His efforts, with the help of workers from a W.P.A. crew made it possible to reopen the course in May of 1936. The bank owned and then operated the course from July 1935 to June 1937 when Bill Campman headed a group to incorporate the Club again. The incorporation of the Country Club was complete by June of 1937 and remains in the hands of shareholders to this day.


New York Pavilion Radio Station

E. Division St.


#3 Wisconsin Pavilion, 1201 Division Street This building was originally built and used as the "Wisconsin Pavilion" for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Howie Sturtz describes his aquisition of this building in his book "Thanks for the Memories". In 1965 Howie had heard a Wisconsin News Story, dateline Boscobel, Wisconsin, which announced that the Wisconsin Pavilion was for sale. A Boscobel blacksmith and resident Ivan Wilcox had purchased the building at the World's Fair site, planning to begin dismantling it the day after the closing of the fair. Unfortunately, looters had already begun this project when Wilcox arrived. He was able to stop them and began his own dismantling project. A few weeks later the building, now in pieces, was loaded onto semi trucks for it's long journey to Boscobel, Wisconsin where it was placed on the ground and left due to a lack of funding for reconstruction. Wilcox made two stipulations as to the sale: first, the building had to remain in Wisconsin, and secondly, he wanted to be the contractor who would reconstruct it on the new owner's property. Howie and Wayne Grap whom Howie had taken in as a part owner of WCCN in 1959, accompanied by Wayne Trimberger, a local Attorney, traveled to Boscobel. By the end of the day Howie, aided by Grap and Trimberger had outbid all others and purchased the building for $41,000.00. Once again, the building was loaded on semi trucks, this time making a trip from Boscobel to Neillsville where it was placed in storage for the winter. In summer of 1966 after obtaining financing, reconstruction began at it's present location. A year and $160,000.00 later, the building was completed by Tesmer Construction, Super Sky Products of Milwaukee, and local corpenters, plumbers, electricians all under the direction of Architect John Steinman of Monticello, Wisconsin, the original designer. The grand opening was held July 13-16th. 1967 and attended by Governor Warren Knowles, Senator William Proxmire, Congressman Mel Laird, Assemblyman William Kavanaugh and many more, including Neillsville's own State Supreme Court Justice, Bruce Beilfus. In the 9 weeks after the pavilion was re-opened in Neillsville it was visited by approximately 15,000 people. In 1976, Howie sold his 90% ownership in both WCCN and the pavilion to Wayne Grap. WCCN and the pavilion were eventually sold to Kevin and Peggy Grap, Son and Daughter-in-law of Wayne Grap.


Neillsville Library

409 Hewett St.


#4 Neillsville Public Library, 409 Hewett Street. A local woman, Mrs. Tom Hommel, a Carnegie relative was instrumental in the community receiving the funds to build this historic “Carnegie Library between 1913 and 1914.


City Center Gazebo

S. E. Corner of Hewett & 5th Sts.


#5 City Center Gazebo, S.E. Corner of Hewett and 5th. Sts. Roughly based on a bandstand that had once stood in Oconomowoc, the Gazebo was built in 1989 totally by way of donations, fund raisers and with volunteer labor in an effort to beautify and improve the downtown area. . Scott Tews as general contractor coordinated the effort with Lee Marshall creating the Victorian brackets that adorn the bandstand and Dwayne Felser the beautiful spire that crowns the roof. Of interest is that this structure was built on the historic site of “Hemp and Weidenhoeft’s dry Goods Store – an early Neillsville landmark.


Doc's Diner

432 Hewett St.


#6 H.H. Eberhardt Building/Waiting Room Gift Shop (building on the left-south This building was built by H.H. Eberhardt in 1923 to house his furniture and undertaking business. His widow, Rose, continued to own the building after his death in 1927 leasing it to Bill Schiller for his furniture and undertaking business through 1938 then to Art and Edna Russell in 1942 where they operated “Russell’s Hardware”. Glenn and Metty (Russell) Roberts purchased the building in 1951, moving Russell’s Hardware into the building immediately north of the Eberhardt building, and started “Russell’s Furniture” in the space. Currently, the building is owned by A.J. Phelps and houses “The Waiting Room gift shop.

#6 Dr. Samuel H. Esch/Doc’s Diner 432 Hewett St, (building on the right-north). Contractor James Taylor built this building for Dr. Samuel H. Esch in 1894. Dr. Esch died in April 1900 at an early age of 41 with his wife, Louise continuing to own the building until March of 1910 when H.H. Eberhardt purchased it to operate his furniture store in the front of the building and his undertaking business in the back. In early 1923 he purchased a building directly south of this building, tore that building down and contracted for the construction of a new more modern building to house his business’ on the site. This is now the home of the Waiting Room Gift Shop. In the following years Mr. Eberhardt, and then his widow, after his death in 1927, rented the building to a variety of merchants as follows: Hilmen’s Variety Store 1923-1929, Shedden’s Variety Store 1929-1938 and B.J. Benson’s Our Own Hardware Store 1938-1951. In 1951 Glenn and Metty (Russell) Roberts purchased the building from Eberhardt’s widow with plans to expand Russell’s Hardware into that location. Russell’s Hardware & Furniture operated in this building from 1951 until 2002. Upon the death of Glenn Roberts in 2003, Metty Roberts passed ownership of both the Esch and Eberhardt buildings to her son and daughter-in-law, Bill and Jeanne Roberts. In October of 2003 Bill and Jeanne established “Doc’s Diner” both to make the Esch and Eberhardt buildings a part of Neillsville’s history and in honor of “Dr. Sam” at this location . Bill and Jeanne were instrumental in establishing both buildings on the local landmark registry and the National Register of Historic Places. In March of 2006, Bill and Jeanne sold “Doc’s to Arizona (A.J) Phelps of Stanley who remains the current owner.


Gifts From the Heart

442 Hewett St.


#7 Gifts from the Heart 442 Hewett St. The Walk family constructed this building in 1897 to house their dry goods store known as Walk Bros. By 1920, the building housed Unger’s Shoe Store operated first, by Adolph Unger then by his son. Unger’s Shoe Store remained in business in this location until around 1950 when a Mr. Schmidt from Ladysmith bought out Ungers’ and opened Schmidt’s Shoe Store. By the mid 1950s, the building was owned by Chuck and Jim Johrdahl, who located Neillsville’s Gamble Store in it. Don Braatz owned the building and continued to operate a Gamble Store in that location from about 1960 to 1980. Duane Soeller continued the Gamble Store tradition for a short time. The Ewing family had a resale shop in the Walk building followed by the Burlingame family who operated a variety store there. By 1990, the structure housed a tanning shop, with Elsie Statz owning it from about 1995 to 2002 in which she ran her floral/tanning business. Paul and Michelle Knoff purchased the building in 2003 and currently rents it to Sandy Bieneck and Christie Walker in which they operate their Gifts from the Heart Gift Shop.


Town Square Plaza

450 Hewett St.


#8 Town Square Plaza 450 Hewett St. The north half of this building was constructed in 1909 by Charles Cornelius to house Neillsville’s First National Bank, now part of the M & I network of banks. M & I built a new bank building on Division Street in 1993, but maintained a “walk-up” in the old building until about 1995, following which Jane Emling purchased it for her bookkeeping business. This business continues to operate out of the “old bank building” with portions of the large structure rented out to other business ventures.






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