Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
201 W WATER ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Merchants Union Bank
Other Name:Dr. Martin A. Thorsen, Dentist
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:80761
Location (Address):201 W WATER ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1884
Additions: 1977
Survey Date:1982
Historic Use:bank/financial institution
Architectural Style:Italianate
Structural System:
Wall Material:Cream Brick
Architect:C.C. Gratiot
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Water Street Commercial Historic District
National Register Listing Date:6/28/1990 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/23/1990 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A cream brick, two story Victorian bank and commercial structure that has a flat roof and an elaborate bracketed metal cornice extending around the two street sides of the building. A curved arch element with the date of the building punctuates the chambered corner of the building where the double-doored entrance to the bank is located. Projecting corniced window heads decorate the side facade while elaborate corbelled keystone arched hoods over the window and door emphasize the entrance and front facade of the east part of the building containing the bank. A bracketed, balconied door hood adds further emphasis to the entry.

A difference in treatment of the street level facade for the adjoining store separates the two functions of the building. Fluted cast iron pilasters with Corinthian capitals at street level separate the store entrance from the bank building. Corinthian capitals on cast iron columns and long arched windows distinguish the recessed entrance.

This elaborate structure's architectural significance lies in its key position as a visual landmark in the commercial district of Shullsburg. The structure is the best example of substantial Italianate Victorian architecture that has retained its integrity in downtown Shullsburg. Furthermore, this building is significant because it is a good, unaltered example of the work of the local physician/architect, Dr. C.C. Gratiot.

The Farmers and Merchants Bank is significant with the development of the Shullsburg Commercial District. The building is also associated with historically significant citizens of Shullsburg.

This bank was the second bank to open in Shullsburg. The first was the Shullsburg Bank across the street, which opened in 1876. During the 1880s, Shullsburg experienced economic prosperity. Many buildings were built during this period. The Farmers and Merchants Bank building was built in 1884. Dr. C.C. Gratiot designed the building and decorated the interior. Besides being a physician, Gratiot was also a local architect. He designed many private residences and the Shullsburg High School. The building of the bank was financed through the J.K. Williams Estate.

The Farmers and Merchants Bank was first called the Merchants Union Bank with Joseph Copeland, President, and John Savage, Cashier. The Directors were Joseph Blackstone, John Savage, Henry Stephens, Henry George, Sam H. Scales, John P. Williams and Joseph Copeland.

The west part of the bank building was a drug store. J.T. Brewster moved his drug store to this building after it was built. Before Brewster's Drug Store was in the Stephen's Block (Code 8/27). Stearns had a drug store there later, followed by Dr. C.C. Gratiot. Other businesses in the building later were Paynter's Drug Store, Bock's Drug Store, Wilbur Warne's Gamble Store and Wunderlin's Western Auto.

Dr. C.C. Garyiot has his medical office and hospital on the second floor. In 1897, Dr. Charles F. Lehnkering came from Philadelphia to join Dr. Gratiot. Dr. Mary Peebles later joined the practice. She later married Dr. Gratiot. Dr. Mary Gratiot was the first woman physician in the community. Dr. J.C. Hanifan has his dental office there presently.

The bank was reorganized in 1889 and called the First National Bank. In 1909 the bank was again reorganized and became the Farmers and Merchants Bank. The bank moved to its new building in 1967 on the corner of Water and Judgment.

When the bank moved to its new quarters, Harry Combs converted the corner portion into a gift shop and the west part into a shoe store. Since 1977, Dr. Martin Thorsen has had his dental office in the corner space.
Bibliographic References:(A) Seq. History of Shullsburg, 1827-1977 (Shullsburg, WI: Badger Historical Society, 1977), p. 62. (B) Building Plaque. (C) Mrs. F. Matl, Shullsburg, WI. (D) Pick and Gad, Vol. II, No. 48; Vol. III, Nos. 8, 9, 16, 18, 1884. (E) Gregory, Southwestern, Wis., Vol. III, p. 38-42. (F) Gratiot's Obituary.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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