143 W ST PAUL AVE ( aka 305-333 N PLANKINTON AVE OR 155 W ST PAUL AVE) | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
143 W ST PAUL AVE ( aka 305-333 N PLANKINTON AVE OR 155 W ST PAUL AVE) | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Other Name:
Reference Number:16132
Location (Address):143 W ST PAUL AVE ( aka 305-333 N PLANKINTON AVE OR 155 W ST PAUL AVE)
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1875
Additions: 1887 1886 1879 1915
Survey Date:200020152010
Historic Use:hardware
Architectural Style:Italianate
Structural System:
Wall Material:Cream Brick
Architect:John Rugee-1875Klug & Smith
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Pritzlaff, John, Hardware Company
National Register Listing Date:1/14/2013
State Register Listing Date:8/24/2012
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. M IN THE PHOTO CODES STANDS FOR MVIS NEGATIVES.

In 1850, John Pritzlaff, along with August F. Suelflohn and Henry J. Nazro, opened a small retail hardware store called John Pritzlaff and Company located at 299 Third Street in Milwaukee. Nazro was a silent partner, but carried the financial burden. In 1853 Suelflohn was bought out by Pritzlaff and in 1866 Nazro withdrew, leaving the entire business with John Pritzlaff as proprietor of a large and rapidly growing business. By 1884, Pritzlaff incorporated the business as the John Pritzlaff Hardware Company. The company kept growing and moving until it became the largest hardware store in Milwaukee and the entire region, employing 400 people. John Pritzlaff was also a founder and for many years a trustee of the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church in Milwaukee.

When John Pritzlaff died in 1900, his son Frederick C. Pritzlaff took over the company and served in this capacity from 1900 to 1951. He was also a director of several Milwaukee banking and insurance firms, and was prominent in Lutheran philanthropy.

Resurveyed for Milwaukee Downtown Connector Arch/History Survey, SHPO#10-0983, Prepared by Heritage Research (2010).

2001- "This property consists of three buildings and encompasses an entire city block at the southwest corner of W. St. Paul and Plankinton avenues. It is comprised of a four-story, ltalianate main block with a four-story, less ornate, ltalianate block that faces W. St. Paul Avenue. Anchoring the W. St. Paul facade is a seven-story, six-bay block. A seven-story, seven-bay block anchors the Plankinton Avenue facade. All buildings are brick. The main block includes a denticulated, round-arch pediment that indicates 1875 as the building's construction date. Below the date, the name "PRITZLAFF" is denoted in block lettering. The main block features a denticulated, bracketed cornice; a first-story storefront; and round-arch, double-hung windows with brick, hooded surrounds accented with carved, masonry blocks. Bays on this block are divided with brick pilasters with masonry trim. The less ornate, ltalianate block is similar in appearance to the main block yet lacks the bracketed cornice and features simple brick window hoods. The block anchoring the W. St. Paul facade includes loading bays on the first story; triple one-over-one, double-hung windows in each bay of stories two thru six; and single one-over-one, double-hung windows on the seventh story. The block anchoring the Plankinton Avenue facade was built last and features one-over-one, double-hung windows and a bracketed cornice.

An 1881 publication indicates that Pritzlaff Hardware moved to this location in 1874, when a 75' by 120' structure occupied the site; a 25-foot addition was made in 1879. An image of the property in the 1907 Commercial Milwaukee Wholesalers & Manufacturers Directory reveals that the historic appearance remains fairly well intact at present. This image lacks the seven-story block anchoring the Plankinton Avenue facade and treats the less ornate, ltalianate block as a continuous part of the main block with a uniformity of architectural features. The only other difference is the absence of the canted corner at the intersection of W. St. Paul and Plankinton avenues. The image also includes an additional three-story, Pritzlaff Hardware building on the site that is currently occupied by the main branch of the U.S. Post Office (345 W. St. Paul Avenue).

Born in Pomerania, Prussia in 1820, John Pritzlaff immigrated to America in 1839 and settled in Milwaukee two years later. By 1843, he was employed with a local iron merchant/hardware business where he began to learn the trade. He opened a small retail hardware store under his name on Third Street in 1850. After finding much success, he built a larger hardware store on Third Street in 1861. He moved to the subject location in 1874, operating a wholesale hardware business, and incorporated in 1884 under the name John Pritzlaff Hardware Company. With 52 employees in 1881 and 250 in 1900, Pritzlaff's business grew to the point where "his trade extended all over the West and Northwest, there being only two other similar establishments in the West having as large a volume of business." John Pritzlaff died in August 1900, and his son Frederick took over the company. The business continued to expand, boasting 450 employees in 1931. It closed in 1958, and the entire complex was purchased by Hack's Furniture & Appliances. It is now largely vacant."
- "Marquette Interchange, Milwaukee", WisDOT ID #1060-05-02, Prepared by Heritage Research (McQuillen) (2001).
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

Have Questions?

If you didn't find the record you were looking for, or have other questions about historic preservation, please email us and we can help:

If you have an update, correction, or addition to a record, please include this in your message:

  • AHI number
  • Information to be added or changed
  • Source information

Note: When providing a historical fact, such as the story of a historic event or the name of an architect, be sure to list your sources. We will only create or update a property record if we can verify a submission is factual and accurate.

How to Cite

For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model:

Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory Citation
Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, "Historic Name", "Town", "County", "State", "Reference Number".