Historical / architectural resources survey, Village of Thiensville, Ozaukee County
Chapter 6: commerce & industry, pp. 21-24
Historical and Architectural Resources Survey Village of Thiensville Page 21 CHAPTER 6 COMMERCE & INDUSTRY From its earliest days when it consisted largely of a mill, to its smattering of stores and inclusion along the Green Bay Road and a railroad, Thiensville evolved as an agricultural support center. As it grew, Thiensville emerged as a "village." This represents one of the four basic categories of trade centers stemming from the so-called Central Place Theory, which German geographer Walter Christaller developed during the 1930s. Briefly explained, the theory maintains that a large central place "provides the hinterland with goods and services that are of high cost whereas low cost necessities would be supplied by local markets in the hinterland." This division in trade function reflects a hierarchy among central places, which is based upon specific business offerings in a community. There are essentially eight levels, ranging from the lowest level of "Hamlet" to the highest, referred to as "Metropolitan Wholesale Retail." These, in turn, can be roughly correlated to the four familiar locality classifications of hamlet, village, town and city.42 As a village, Thiensville has historically represented the second lowest "rung" on the Central Place ladder. According to the theory, a village typically can range from 115 to 1,415 residents and offers more commercial sales and services than a hamlet. For instance, a village features at least ten retail/service establishments. Aside from including the general store, tavern and gas station common in a hamlet, a village must provide four other sales-oriented enterprises such as a car/farm implement dealership, lumber yard, hardware store or feed mill. There are at least three service-oriented businesses, ranging from a bank to a post office. Nevertheless, a village is an "incomplete trade center," since professional services (including medical and dental) are not extensive, often limited to villages with populations over six hundred. Other structures found in a village include churches and schools, while a high school is almost standard. Rail service is likely evident. As one source concluded, a village represents a "significant center for goods and services most frequently demanded by rural people."43 In general, Thiensville historically has met most of the above criteria of a central place village. Indeed, the village emerged around John Henry Thien' s mill and it soon became the most significant settlement in the Town of Mequon. Several other businesses to include William Zimmermann's general store 146 Green Bay Road (Photo Code 77/20) emerged around the mill in the 1840s and 1850s. Thien's mill and the other businesses served the growing number of farmers in the Town of Mequon and travelers on the Green Bay Road. Little information regarding the commercial 42John E. Brush, "The Hierarchy of Central Places in Southwestern Wisconsin," Geographical Review 43 (1953):380, 386; "Central Place Theory in Australia," Website designated under Central Place Theory, MelbPage, ILM, accessed 2 April 1998 (includes direct quotation): Ingolf Vogeler, et. al., Wisconsin: A Geography (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986), 157-59. 43Quote in Brush, "Hierarchy of Central Places, 385-86.
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