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Architecture and History Inventory
172-176 W WISCONSIN AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Other Name:Fargo's Furniture Store
Reference Number:16757
Location (Address):172-176 W WISCONSIN AVE
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1928
Survey Date:1983
Historic Use:retail building
Architectural Style:Neoclassical
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Fargo's Furniture Store
National Register Listing Date:3/29/1984
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:Multiple Resources of Kaukauna
Additional Information:A 'site file' (Kaukauna Historic Properties) 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-Public History.

Located at the west end of Kaukauna's northside business district, Fargo's Furniture Store is an excellent example of 20th Century Classical Revival architecture. This two-story brick building is characterized by its regular placement of fenestration and classical details. Corinthian pilasters divide the lower level of the front facade into a five-part composition with two entranceways located between three storefronts. Above the transoms of the storefronts and entranceways is a full entablature with dentils. A similar entablature is located beneath the balastrade which crowns the building. The second flood double hung windows with 6 over 6 sash are placed to compliment the lower level (paired windows above the storefronts; single window above the entranceways). A ventilation chimney projects from the flat roof.

The interior plan of the building consists of two large showrooms with a small office and storage area toward the back. Once functioning as a funeral parlor, the second floor is now used for storage.

The Fargo Furniture Store is the best and most intact example of 20th Century Classical Revival commercial architecture in Kaukauna. Aside from the Fargo's sign and the small metal canopies between the transom lights and storefronts, the building appears today almost as it did in 1928. Its front facade retains its features including its storefront, decorative pilaster, 6 over 6 windows, cornice with dentils and balastrade crowning the top of the building.

The completion of the 1928 building at 172 W. Wisconsin Avenue was hailed as "the opening of Kaukauna's largest store, home of Fargo's Furniture and Undertaking Business." This representative Kaukauna commercial venture began before the City was incorporated in 1885, growing through several frame buildings and an 1890 brick building which forms an interior portion of the grandiose 1928 store.

The Fargo family furniture and undertaking business has enhanced the community since 1881, when George Fargo (1845-1911) opened a small frame store on W. Wisconsin Avenue with his wife. He purchased the property a few years later and established an additional store on the south side. In 1890 Fargo was engaged in "an undertaking business, repairing, picture framing, large stock of wallpaper, and furniture."

Albert (Bert) W. Fargo became a partner with his father and took over the business after his father's death in 1911 and his mother's death in 1913. With the growth of the community, the business grew and Bert Fargo created the new building in 1928. Bert Fargo was "numbered among those who by their personal activities are contributing to the general prosperity of the community." He served as Mayor of Kaukauna in 1932-1936. The family lived next to or over the store until 1910. Today the undertaking services, first listed in 1897, are conducted at 400 W. Wisconsin Avenue.
Bibliographic References:(A) Kaukauna Tax Assessment Rolls 1922-1982. (B) Outagamie County City Directories 1897, 1901, 1908, 1910, 1919, 1921, 1925, 1938-83. (C) History of Fox River Valley, Lake Winnebago, and Green Bay Region, Vol. I, Hon. Wm. A. Titus, S.J. Clarke Publ. Co., Chicago, 1930, p. 92, 132-133. (D) Kaukauna Times April 24, 1928.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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