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Court Street Commercial Historic District

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1873–1938. Roughly bounded by Mill, Church, Seminary, and Main sts.

Court Street is the main artery through downtown. Where it joins Main Street is the Union Block (1892; 1911 expansion; 100–124 N. Main Street), one of the district’s largest blocks. The two-story building features brick pilasters, an arcaded parapet wall, pronounced window cornices, a wooden balcony over the canted main entrance, and a cast-iron storefront with slender pilasters.

The three-story, brick Richland Center City Hall and Auditorium (1912; 182 N. Central Avenue) by Bajari and Bentley of La Crosse is classical, with Ionic pilasters, tripartite Chicago windows, and a prominent cornice with modillions. This building was home to Wisconsin’s first municipal auditorium, which hosted cultural and political events. Among the most prestigious of fraternal organizations was the Free Masons, which built the Beaux-Arts classical Masonic Temple (1920; 189 N. Central). Architect Edward Tough used stone moldings to divide the brick building into three zones, much like a classical column. From the raised foundation, colossal Ionic columns divided the two upper stories into bays, and a festooned nameplate crowns the building. Most distinctive is the arched, stained glass window extending from the top of the base almost to the full height of the building.

The A. A. Bulard Jewelry Store (1883) and the A. A. Bulard Building (1885) form a cohesive block at 155 E. Court Street. The two-story Italianate buildings have a pronounced and richly ornamented metal cornice, but each building receives a unique treatment along the second floor. The building on the left features elaborate cast-iron decoration around the windows, separated by stylized Corinthian pilasters, while that on the right is distinguished by metal drip moldings embellished by a vine-like pattern. A dogtooth course along the top links the windows. Inside the Bulard Building, the pressed-metal ceiling survives.

The H. T. Bailey Store and Opera House (1883; 194 E. Court) also has an ornate Italianate metal cornice, which forms a pediment at the center. David Jones designed the two-story, red brick building. Richland Center became known as the cradle of Wisconsin’s movement to expand women’s vote beyond local school board elections, and the Bailey Building was a center of local suffrage activity. The upstairs opera house hosted the first statewide convention of the Wisconsin Women’s Suffrage Association in 1884, and two years later the local Woman’s Club brought suffragist Susan B. Anthony to speak here.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Marsha Weisiger et al.
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Citation

Marsha Weisiger et al., "Court Street Commercial Historic District", [Richland Center, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WI-01-RI2.

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 349-350.

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