Up to the end of World War I, Mayville’s economy rested on its flourishing iron industry, staffed largely by German immigrants who came in the wake of European political upheavals in the late 1840s. Most of the one- and two-story brick buildings standing along the riverfront were constructed in the prosperous years of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The three-story brick Beaumont Hotel, now the Audubon Inn (1896; 45 N. Main Street), anchors the north end of the district. The Queen Anne building has a polygonal two-story oriel window that rises to a domed belvedere. The original storefront incorporates a single Corinthian column in front of the recessed corner entrance and large display windows. Jacob Mueller, a German immigrant and editor of the Dodge County Pioneer, a German-language newspaper, built the showplace hotel. The former Matthew Ziegler Saloon (1889; 33 N. Main) has tall narrow windows with the pronounced brick head moldings that are characteristic of Italianate design. Shallow brackets, acorn finials, and dentils decorate the pressed-metal cornice, whose center is embellished with a pediment. At the end of the block stands the two-story brick former First National Bank (1915; 2 N. Main). Designed in a loose interpretation of classicism, its rounded corner was common to corner commercial blocks built around this time. Another sign of the times was the use of tripartite Chicago windows, so called because they were found on many of Chicago’s commercial buildings.
The August Reible Building (1866; 34 S. Main) recalls the earliest phase of Mayville’s development. This two-story limestone building may be the city’s finest example of Italianate, popular then for commercial architecture. Paired pendant brackets support the building’s pressed-metal cornice. The storefront features two display windows and a recessed entrance, each surmounted by a fanlight and surrounded by limestone arches. Stonemason August Reible built this structure to house his Mayville Granite and Marble Works. Toward the end of the district, the Ruedebusch Department Store (1891; 119 S. Main) is neoclassical. Above the spacious display windows of its intact storefront rise brick pilasters with simplified Corinthian capitals. These support a classically detailed frieze, framed by dentils and ornamented with rosettes.