101 S. Broadway (T. Heggland photo, 2008)
103 S. Broadway (T. Heggland photo, 2008)
105-107 S. Broadway (T. Heggland photo, 2008)
109-113 S. Broadway (T. Heggland photo, 2008)
South Broadway Historic District
101-129 S. Broadway, De Pere, Brown County
Dates of construction of contributing buildings: 1882-1888
The city of De Pere is situated on both the east and west sides of the Fox River and is one of Wisconsin's oldest communities. Catholic priests first settled this location as early as 1670, but the city of today got its start in 1835 when a dam was built across the river at this point creating waterpower for industry. Little was built here, though, until 1851, when a bridge constructed across the dam linked the two sides of the river. Once the bridge was in place, commercial districts quickly evolved at both ends of the bridge. The one on the east side centered on the blocks surrounding the intersection of Broadway, whose route parallels the river, and George Street, which divides Broadway into north and south halves.
The South Broadway Historic District contains the most intact concentration of nineteenth century commercial buildings on the east side of the river. By 1882, small, mostly wooden commercial buildings lined the 100 and 200 blocks of N. and S. Broadway. On the night of April 23, a devastating fire destroyed all of the buildings on both sides of the 100 and 200 blocks of S. Broadway. Work on their replacements began almost as soon as the ashes were cold and by the end of the year, five of the Districtís six contributing buildings were ready for their first occupants. These consist of one and two-story cream brick-clad buildings that all face west onto the 100 block of South Broadway. The unusual circumstances surrounding their construction can still be discerned by the way the facade of one building blends seamlessly with the one adjacent to it. Normally, buildings like these display clear dividing lines that show where one building ends the other begins, but in this case, since almost all of these buildings were under construction at the same time and their builders were all using the same cream brick to build them, the results were buildings whose main facades have no visible edges.
The district remains a visually coherent and architecturally distinct collection of historic commercial buildings in the city of De Pere.