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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

5. Commerce,   pp. 95-117


Page 110

The West Milwaukee Street Historic District has many extant retail buildings within its
boundaries that date from both the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The most
significant building group includes the Richardson Block (111 W. Milwaukee St.), the Davis-
Dunn Block (117-119 W. Milwaukee St.), and the Richardson-Macloon Block (121-123 W.
Milwaukee St.). These double-storefront blocks were all built in 1869 with similar details to
replace the frame buildings that had earlier stood in this area of West Milwaukee Street. The
buildings' storefronts housed many important west side retail businesses, including the Max
Meisel-Amos Rehburg Department Store, the J. J. Smith Jewelry Store, Colvin's Bakery, the
Stearns and Baker Drug Store and the Badger Drug Store. This building group is the most
historically significant building group on the west side and contributes to the West Milwaukee
Street Historic District. (National Register of Historic Places nomination form for West
Milwaukee Street Historic District)
Much of the west side commercial district was developed later than the east side, and several
of the buildings constructed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are still
extant. The Thomas Mackin Building (301 W. Milwaukee St.), the Charles Mackin Building
(305 W. Milwaukee St.), and the Merrill Building (307 W. Milwaukee St.) were all built in
1885. They housed a variety of businesses over the years. The Williams Block (105 W.
Milwaukee St.) was built in 1890, and the Yahn Brothers Building (109 W. Milwaukee St.), in
1903. The Williams Block housed the clothing and furniture stores of Edward Hall and Albert
Huebel for many years, and the Yahn Brothers Building housed Yahn's meat market and,
later, the Lowell Hardware Store. These late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century retail
buildings are typical of the commercial buildings along West Milwaukee Street: smaller
buildings occupied by specialty stores. This building group is historically significant to the
history of west side retailing and contributes to the West Milwaukee Street Historic District.
(National Register of Historic Places nomination form for West Milwaukee Street Historic
District)
Two twentieth-century buildings on the west side foreshadow the discount stores that would
become popular after World War II and that dominate much of the retailing activity in
Janesville today. These buildings are the Kresge Store (101-103 W. Milwaukee St.), built
around 1930, and the Woolworth Building (11-17 W. Milwaukee St.), built around 1946. These
modem, art deco-influenced buildings housed the "five-and-dime" stores popular during the
first half of the twentieth century. The Kresge Store was similar in size and scale to many of
the west side commercial buildings, but the Woolworth Building was long and low, with a
profile common to grocery and discount stores built during the 1950s and 1960s. In only a few
years, stores of this type would be built in suburban locations, reflecting the movement of
retailing away from downtown. Because the businesses housed in these buildings reflected a
Commerce
110


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