Bill’s Pizza Shop: Part IV: The Building Is Born
By Wendell Nelson
1101 (old number 437) Main Street is a very old building. Indeed, it was already 96 years old when Bill’s Pizza Shop moved into it in 1988. Five different businesses have occupied it over the decades, and its appearance has changed drastically, for better or worse. But through all of those changes, and underneath the new facades, is the same basic structure that G.F. Andrae built in 1891-92.
So the history of Bill’s Pizza Shop’s Main Street building began in 1891. The Gazette of May 20 gave what is so far the only newspaper announcement of the construction of the building. It was to be half of a double-store structure, and simultaneously the new First National
Bank building—which now houses the Wooden Chair restaurant at 1059 Main Street—was constructed.
“HANDSOME NEW BLOCKS. THREE TO BE ERECTED IN THIS CITY AT ONCE.
“The First National Bank, G.F. Andrae and Reton Bros. & Co. will commence the erection of three handsome blocks in the course of two or three weeks. They will be located on Main street, between the residence of Dr. Rood and the Raymond & Brennan block, and cover a frontage of 81 ½ feet. We are unable to give as full details of this new enterprise at present as desired, owing to the fact that the plans are now in the hands of the architect at St. Paul for perfection. The bank block will be located on the west, and the front will be of Lake Superior stone. The Andrae block will come next, while the Reton block will be on the east. The fronts of these structures will be of St. Louis pressed brick, with stone trimmings. The remaining parts of the three blocks will be of solid brick, and they will be erected in the most modern manner, with plate glass and fine trimmings throughout. The architecture promises to outrival anything of the
kind in this city or vicinity, and the handsome new edifices will certainly be an ornament to our city and a credit to their owners. The bank will occupy its new block when complete, as will Mr. Andrae with his store, leaving his present location to be occupied by others, while Reton Bros. & Co. will also remove their jewelry establishment beneath their own roof.”
So far, also, no full-blown, detailed description of the completed double-store building has surfaced. But the January 13, 1892, Gazette carried a large ad announcing a close-out sale of Gustave F. Andrae’s entire stock (so he hoped, or wished the public to believe) in his old store, so he would have less to move to his new one—which, by the way, was “nearly completed.”
“REMOVAL SALE! Having my new store nearly completed, and being desirous to remove to same on or before March 1st, 1892, I have concluded to dispose of my mammoth stock
of General Merchandise as nearly as possible. Therefore I will give all cash purchasers a DISCOUNT OF FROM 20 TO 50 PER CENT. According to kind and nature of goods, until said removal…. G.F. ANDRAE.”
In its April 6 issue, The Gazette reported that Andrae’s new building was indeed finished, and he was transferring his—or what remained of it—stock into it. (He also, presumably, had ordered new merchandise for the new store, especially since the season was now spring, when retail stores that sold clothing, home furnishings, and other fashion-related merchandise routinely received new stock.)
“G.F. Andrae is moving his stock to his new store just west of his present quarters, but it will take several days before everything is thoroughly regulated. The store is well-lighted, both
from front and rear, and everything is new, including shelving, counters, etc., and all of the best workmanship. Mr. Andrae has spared neither time nor expense in making his store worthy of a
progressive city and the pride of its owner, and therein himself and the public will be able to enjoy many conveniences that it was impossible to have heretofore.”
The 1893 city directory shows the store open for business at 437 Main Street, a number that that space would keep for 72 years, until the 1965 renumbering of the entire city’s streets and buildings, when it became 1101 Main Street. In 1893, the store was identified in the city directory as “Andrae & Shaffer Co., carpets and dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes 437 Main.”
(John D. Shaffer was born in the Town of Almond in 1857, and came to Stevens Point “when a boy and for a time attended our public schools. Thereafter he commenced clerking in
the dry-goods store of G.F. Andrae. About 12 years ago [in 1888] Mr. Andrae offered him a partnership in the business…and the firm of the Andrae & Shaffer Co. formed.” But Shaffer contracted tuberculosis (TB), and died in Colorado in February of 1900. He was married, but had no children, according to the February 14, 1900, Gazette.)
After Shaffer’s death, the store’s name stayed the same as long as G.F. Andrae lived, probably out of respect for the memory of Shaffer. After Andrae died, the store name was changed to Andrae & Company, and it was owned and operated by G.F.’s adopted son, Gustave Wesley (1890-1936). He owned the business another 11 years (though he hired a man named R.W. Robinson to manage it, according to the March 28, 1917, Gazette), until, in 1921, he leased it to Harris and Meyer Hanowitz, Jewish merchants from Mosinee, in Marathon County, according to the lease (Volume 130, pages 127-129, dated August 8, 1921) and the Daily Journal of August 20. The paper also mentioned that Harris Hanowitz was the “president of the Farmers State Bank at Mosinee.” Two days later, on Monday, August 22, 1921, the Hanowitzes ran a full-page ad in the Daily Journal for a “CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP SALE.”
Like Andrae’s, Hanowitz’s sold dry goods (bedding, curtains, and towels, for example), and clothing (mostly women’s). In 1923, the February 26 Daily Journal reported, Hanowitz’s added a new millinery section, selling nothing but hats “ for women and misses.” An idea of how many hats—“the newest creations in headwear”–the new department stocked, is suggested by its size: 50 x 25 feet, according to the paper.
In 1928, the firm name was changed from “Hanowitz’s” to “Hanna’s,” the Daily Journal of February 28 announced. This change was made because the family changed its surname from
“Hanowitz” to Hanna.” That apparently was the very first day the announcement was made; the previous day’s Daily Journal—Monday, February 27—carried an ad for “New Spring Hats” for “Hanowitz’s” (not “Hanna’s”).
Why the family changed their surname can only now, 91 years later, be a guess. But it was probably to have a name that sounded less “foreign”—less Jewish, more specifically—and more “American.” (Stevens Point had had a mayor—Thomas H. Hanna (1867-1919)—who had been born in Illinois, but had grown up in Waupaca County, of Irish-immigrant parents, so the newly minted merchant Hannas may even have hoped that Stevens Pointers would associate their surname with his.) In any case, official news of a court-approved name change has not surfaced in the newspapers, but the family did probably make the change legally.)
The Hanowitzes/Hannas occupied the store space at 437 Main Street until 1935. Exactly why it moved out, is not clear: whether the owners found cheaper rent at their new location on Strongs Avenue; whether their new space was smaller than the Main Street store, and they didn’t need the larger space there; or whether there was some other reason.
Whatever their reasons, the Hannas moved around the corner and across Strongs Avenue to 116.
NEXT: The Campbells come to town.