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Pioneer Place Apartments (Folding Furniture Works)

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1931. 1020 1st St.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

By the early twentieth century the white pines near Stevens Point had been cut, leaving vast swaths of cleared land or only hard-to-sell hardwood trees. To create a market for their hardwoods, the Worzalla brothers, who owned large tracts of cutover land between Stevens Point and Wausau, decided to make furniture. In 1917 John Worzalla founded a furniture-making company, specializing in baby cribs and folding children’s swings, which he patented. Two years later, he built a factory in Stevens Point, at the edge of the city’s commercial district. In 1931, fire destroyed the Folding Furniture Works, but Worzalla paid his factory workers to erect a larger Folding Furniture Works on the same site.

The long, narrow, three-story building looks more like a New England textile mill of the early nineteenth century than an industrial structure from the early twentieth. By 1931, fireproof masonry had long been the norm for factory construction, but Worzalla’s insurance covered only about 60 percent of the investment lost in the fire, so the walls are clad with narrow clapboards. Rectangular windows admit light onto the shop floors and create a rhythmic pattern of voids. Each window is filled with an unusual pane, in which the upper sash has four smaller lights over four long ones. On the east side of the building, a one-story hipped porch supported by rectangular posts shelters two entrance doors, which flank a central window.

The factory closed in 1961, and the local Lullabye Furniture Company purchased the structure for use as a warehouse. More recently, it has been rehabilitated for apartments.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Pioneer Place Apartments (Folding Furniture Works)", [Stevens Point, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 386-387.

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