Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

331 W WISCONSIN AVE

Architecture and History Inventory
331 W WISCONSIN AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Plankinton Block/Julius Simon, Dry Goods
Other Name:Boston Store
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:41857
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):331 W WISCONSIN AVE
County:Milwaukee
City:Milwaukee
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1895
Additions: 1909 1906 1911 1920
Survey Date:200420102019
Historic Use:department store
Architectural Style:Chicago Commercial Style
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:FRANK W. BUGBEE - 1895HENRY C. KOCH AND CO. - 1911William Reichert (1920)
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: West Side Commercial Historic District
National Register Listing Date:12/22/2000 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:Another map name is 4th Aldermanic District 21.

The south section of the store is architecturally the most interesting, with its stylized classical cornice and Chicago School windows.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:
Large brick Commercial Style building important to the architectural character of W. Wisconsin Avenue. The original five-story building (150' by 160'), constructed in 1895, was divided into three stores. Later alterations, probably in 1902 or 1906, removed the partitions, making the structure one large department store. In 1911, Henry C. Koch and Co. designed the large five-story addition to the south.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:
According to the Milwaukee Landmarks Commission, the Boston Store had its origins with dry goods merchant Julius Simon. City directories list his business as "Julius Simon, Dry Goods" until 1900, after which the name Boston Store is used. In 1906, Carl Herzfeld and Nat Stone purchased Simon's interest in the business.

MILWAUKEE LANDMARKS COMMISSION:
Description: The five story building now occupied by the Boston Store on the south-east corner of West Wisconsin Avenue and Fourth Street was constructed beginning in 1895 for the Plankington Estate to the design of one F.N. Bugbee. This building, 150' x 160' and 84' tall, was built at the cost of $120,000. Simon's Boston Store is first recorded at this location in 1900. This building still survives today yet is heavily altered from the original design. As is, the brick building mass is divided into a series of bays by pilasters, and on the second through fourth floors, into stories by spandrels. Each bay is two windows wide; each window is composed of a 1/1 wood frame, double-hung sash. The fifth and sixth stories consist of a simple brick band with no wall articulation. The building has a flat roof.

Alterations to the fabric have occurred as follows:

By 1911 the Boston Store had built an addition (130' x 150' x 84') to the original building at the cost of $200,000 (Permit #1976, May 20, 1911). According to archival records, this addition was probably added to the south side of the original building, fronting along Fourth and Michigan Streets. The architect was H.G. Koch and Sons, of Milwaukee. In 1920 William Reichert was the architect for a $500,000, three story addition to the top of the 1911 building (Permit #6171, April 19, 1920). Subsequent construction has included the addition of a penthouse (Permit #4965, May 10, 1925), another story (Permit #3198, February 23, 1927), various facade remodelings, and countless interior alterations. The present Boston Store is a combination of various buildings constructed at different times, yet difficult to distinguish from each other.

Significance: The development of the Boston Store represents one of several approaches taken toward commercial retailing in Milwaukee during the early twentieth century. Gimbels embodied a traditional approach to merchandising, offering a wide range of items under one roof. In contrast, the 1916 Plankington Arcade contained numerous shops run by independent merchants in a single building with entertainment and dining facilities as well. The Boston Store began as a cross between these two approaches. It developed from a small store opened by Julius Simon in 1897 at the corner of Third and Highland. Simon moved the store to its present location in 1900. Instead of encompassing all types of merchandise in a single store with a centralized management, Simon leased out various departments to a number of independent merchants, yet united them under a single roof. Simon himself specialized in fabric, clothing, carpets, and shoes. In 1902 he recruited the Stone Brothers of Chicago, who sold jewelry and leather goods. The (Carl) Herzfeld - (Richard) Phillipson Company, selling hosiery and undergarments, also joined Simon's store. In 1903 Nathan Stone and Carl Herzfeld took over a number of departments from Simon and acquired the rest of his interest in the store in 1906. From these transactions emerged the present Boston Store with a centralized management. The Boston Store continued under the direction of the Stones and Herzfelds for many years. It is presently a member of the Federated Department Stores organization.

Previously surveyed in 1984 with map code 153/19. Map name was 392.

2019 - Resurveyed (streetcar project). Listed in NRHP.
Bibliographic References:See National Register of Historic Places Form. MILWAUKEE HISTORIC BUILDINGS TOUR: KILBOURNTOWN, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF CITY DEVELOPMENT, 1994. Bruce, William G., BUILDERS OF MILWAUKEE, (Milwaukee, 1946), p. 73. Still, Bayrd, MILWAUKEE: THE HISTORY OF A CITY, (Madison, 1948), p. 400. Milwaukee City Directory, 1900-1905. Records of Ownership, Records and Research, 509 City Hall, Milwaukee.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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