Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

4153 MAIN ST

Architecture and History Inventory
4153 MAIN ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Vorous General Store
Other Name:Hillside
Reference Number:49604
Location (Address):4153 MAIN ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1895
Survey Date:1992
Historic Use:general store
Architectural Style:Commercial Vernacular
Structural System:Unknown
Wall Material:Aluminum/Vinyl Siding
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Vorous General Store
National Register Listing Date:5/9/1997 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:11/6/1996 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:Historical Background

Originally, this property was part of Alexander and Marie Noble's holdings. In 1895, the Nobels sold to Levi Vorous. Vorous had the nominated building constructed shortly thereafter. At the time it was the third general store in Fish Creek. C.A. and Alice Lundberg had established their store at 4168 Highway 42 in 1881, and the Hill Brothers began the Fish Creek General Store at 4164 Highway 42 a few years later at the end of the 1880s.

In the 1890s, Asa Thorp's Thorp Hotel in Fish Creek was expanding to accommodate midwestern families escaping the heat of large urban centers. In the latter part of the decade, Herman Welcker started Welcker's Resort, catering to Germanic clientele from Milwaukee. At the same time, wealthy families from St. Louis and Chicago were purchasing lots on Cottage Row and constructing summer residences.

When Levi Vorous died in 1915, the property passed to his wife Rachel. During vorous ownership, it appears that the store was run by Levi and Rachel's son-in-law Mr. LePere (first name unknown).

In 1920 the property passed from Rachel Vorous to Henry Eckert, Henry Stenzel and Carl E. Seiler by an indenture deed. Seiler and Stenzel operated a garage in the rear of the building. In addition, they built a new gas station across the street in 1932.

The building housed the post office from 1935, when Carl Seiler was appointed Postmaster, to 1959, when a new post office was constructed across Highway 42 (the Post Office currently shares space in the Community Center on the east side of Fish Creek, constructed in 1990). Anita Schultz was postmaster from 1941 through 1973. The post office was one room in the front of the building, with the garage in the larger back part. The post office room was divided by a partition. One half was the lobby, the other half was the work area.

Henry and Minnie Stenzel sold their share to Carl Seiler and his wife Linea in 1946. The Seilers sold the property to Richard and Mary Uhl in 1970. In 1989 the property went from Nancy Murray, Colleen Murray, Thomas Murray and Gary Spellman to Michael and Judith Surges. The path from the Uhls to the Murrays is unclear.

Historical Significance

The commercial property at 4153 Highway 42 is significant as an intact example of one of Fish Creek's earliest stores. As the site of a store supplying the needs of area residents, it embodies the lifeways of a fishing and lumbering community in the late 1890s as the community became increasingly more attractive as a resort destination.

Architectural Description

Built circa 1895, the Vorous general store is a two story vernacular Italianate commercial bhuilding located on the northeast corner of a pivotal block in the downtown core of Fish Creek. Rectangular in massing, it is two bays wide and three bays deep, as is typical of commercial buildings of this time period. The store rests on a stone foundation. Its flat roof is obscured from view by the pareapet front and side walls. The original clapboard walls are now clad in narrow aluminum siding, however, the overall appearance is unmarred.

The handsome pressed metal cornice is particularly indicative of the Italianate style. Organized like an entablature, it features heavy corner brackets, dentils, and simulated corbelling.

The first floor storefront features original caset iron details including corner ilasters and an ornamented beam dividing the first floor from the second. The beam is a diminutive version of the cornice and also displays side brackets and dentils. The recessed door is surmounted by a fixed transom window. The original display windows were fixed-sash with four large lights on each side. Each large light was replaced with twenty-five small panes when the cost of replacing the large lights became prohibitive. This alteration does not adversely effect the integrity of the store front and is a reversible condition.

The side and rear elevations have received some alterations including an overhanging porch on te west elevation, bay window and new door hoods on the east elevation, and a shed roof addition to the rear.

None of the alterations affect the overall understanding of the original design and purpose of this building.

The interior consists of two primary rooms, one in front and one in the back. Historically, the main room housed the community post office and the back room was a garage. The main room is currently a large open retail space with four evenly spaced load-bearing metal columns. The tin ceiling was recently replaced after water and fire damage destroyed the original one. The second story was historically used as an apartment.

Interestingly, the property lines of the land this commercial building rests on exactly coincide with the walls of the building itself.

Architectural Significance

This vernacular interpretation of an Commercial Italianate building is unique in Fish Creek. No other commercial building of the same generation has the level of decorative details as this building. While the bulding has been sided and inappropriate window shutters have been added, the integrity of the building fabric has not been compromised.

Resurveyed March 2014; no visible changes.
Bibliographic References:A. Edward and Lois Schreiber, editors, Fish creek Voices, An Oral History of a Door county Village, (Sister Bay, WI: Wm Caxton Ltd), 1990. B. Door County Almanak No. 5: Tourism, Reesorts, Transportation (Sister Bay, WI: The Dragonsbreath Press, 1990. C. Door County Register of Deeds, book/page; 466/111, 444/428,215/94, 58/436, 35/424, 30/112, A/237, 15/154. D. Hewlen Allen "A Sampling of Historic Structures and Sites In Fish Creek - May 1990", typed manuscript of walking tour, Printed privately. E. Tape recording 12 December, 1984, by Gibraltar Historical Association, of Community members, including Gertrude Howe, Roy and Virginia Kinsey, Duncan and Ann Thorp, Ed and Lois Schreiber. F. Ann Thorp "Fish Creek post office remains focal point of Village activity" The Door County Advocate, 3 october, 1990.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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