Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
913-929 W EXCHANGE ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Other Name:
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:67980
Location (Address):913-929 W EXCHANGE ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1869
Additions:C. 1908
Survey Date:1984
Historic Use:retail building
Architectural Style:High Victorian Gothic
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Exchange Square Historic District
National Register Listing Date:11/15/1984 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
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-Public History. One of the oldest and largest commercial buildings in the district, the Pfisterer building is also one of the most distinctive: built between 1869 and 1871, the half-block long cream brick building is distinguished by its commercial Italianate detail including an unusual pattern of interlacing brick arches at the cornice. Although the first story facades have been extensively remodelled in a variety of "contemporary" styles, the upper portion of the building retains complete integrity of fabric and design. Articulating the building's division into a series of storefronts, the second story fenestration is grouped into three sets of five windows. Each set is dominated by a central round headed window which is flanked on either side by two segmentally arched windows, all of which are surmounted by heavily molded and corbelled brick hoods. The windows are further distinguished by their extremely tall proportions which provide a counterbalance to the low horizontal profile of the structure. But the most remarkable element of the building is the decoration at the cornice. The long facade is enlivened and unified by a fanciful series of brick arches, springing from corbelled imposts, which create a design of overlapping rounded and pointed arches. The composition provides both solidity and movement to the north side of the square.

Built between 1869 and 1871 (during the height of the Exchange Square building boom) the Pfisterer building was first owned by William Frazee who sold it to Brodhead jeweler John Pfisterer in 1872. Pfisterer, a native of Wurtemburg, Germany, came to the city in 1866 and established himself as a dealer of diamonds and other gems. He used a portion of his new building for a store and rented the remaining units to other Bordhead merchants, thus creating an early (and the largest) commercial block in the fledgling Exchange Square. Eventually the Square became the mercantile center of the city, and the Pfisterer building continued to be a central location, housing numerous commercial concerns throughout the 19th and 20th century, as it continues to do so today.
Bibliographic References:(A) 1871 map of Brodhead. (B) 1908 Sanborn-Perris Map. (C) History of Green County. 1884, p. 835. (D) Wally Ekum Abstract Co.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, 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".