Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
111 E MAIN ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Theodore Racek Building
Other Name:Warren's Jewelers
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:7174
Location (Address):111 E MAIN ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1867
Additions:C. 1893
Survey Date:1986
Historic Use:retail building
Architectural Style:Neoclassical
Structural System:
Wall Material:Stone - Unspecified
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Main Street Commercial Historic District
National Register Listing Date:6/2/1989 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:This building was built around 1867 for Theodore Racek a prominent pioneer who had a store here until around 1880. After that time, the building housed several retail businesses. Then, around 1910, it became the W.D. Sproesser Jewelry store, operated by W.D.'s son, William Sproesser. W.D. Sproesser was a German immigrant who established this successful business in the mid-nineteenth century. Later, his son William took over the business, along with his other prominent business activities. The W.D. Sproesser store was located in several places in the downtown, but it was here between 1911 and at least 1930. Sproesser was also a successful businessman outside of retailing. He had business interests in other concerns including the Globe Milling Company and the Merchants Bank. This building is significant for local history under National register criterion A because it was the long-time early twentieth century location of the W.D. Sproesser Jewelry store. Sproesser was one of several jewelry stores that operated for a long period of time in Watertown. Although probably not as important as either Salick or Wiggenhorn jewelry stores, Sproesser's was an important business and William a businessman who invested in other businesses promoting the local economy beyond downton. Because of Sproesser's location in this building, it is significant for local commercial history. The building also contributes to the overall development of commerce in the Main Street Commercial Historic District because the building housed a number of retail businesses between 1867 and 1930. Originally built as a two-story cream brick three-bay building for Theodore Racek around 1867, this building was remodeled to its present "Sullivanesque" appearance by the descendents of Theodore Racek between 1890 and 1895. Crowned by a wide metal bracketed projecting cornice and a frieze ornamented by a row of raised classical wreath designs pressed into the metal. Further divided horizontally and ornamented, the attic story is lighted by four cylindrical windows surrounded by low-relief sculptural ornamentation of classical foliage placed above a band of simple rectangular half-windows. A plain projecting cornice and frieze ornamented by a classical influenced design of seashells decorates the top of three large second story window sseparated by decorative "pilaster mullions." Tall round arched windows are located on the upper story of the rear elevation. This late 19th century influenced by the Neo-classical designs in a Sullivanesque manner was altered by the addition of the remodeled contemporary storefront. The Racek building is significant under criterion C as an unusual example of eclectic late 19th century architecture. Exhibiting a bracketed projecting Italianate styled cornice as well as classical stylistic details such as wreaths, seashells and stylized applied pilasters in low relief on the surface of the facade in the manner of Louis Sullivan, the Racek building originally built around 1867 was remodeled to its present appearance in the late 19th century. Initially used by Theodore Racek as a produce store and as his residence, this building is the only building of its type in the commercial district and in the city as well.
Bibliographic References:(A) Tax Records, City of Watertown, 1860-1910, Area Research Center, Library, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. (B) Sanborn Insurance Map, City of Watertown, 1890, 1895. (C) "Revised Tariff Rates for Watertown, Wis.," National Board of Fire Underwriters, April 13, 1876. (D) Watertown Democrat May 9, 1867. (E) Watertown, Wisconsin Centennial 1854-1954, Watertown: Jansky Printing Co., p. 58. (F) Watertown City Directories, 1866-1930, Watertown Public Library.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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