Step into my time machine and we will zip back to the late 1940s-early 50s. DeForest had not one, or two but THREE blacksmith shops in the downtown business area.
Dyson Bennett owned the shop in the 100 block of South Main Street. He came to DeForest for a visit and bought the business with the $50 he had in his pocket. He ran the business for 50 years and enjoyed a long retirement as he lived to be 100 years old.
On the other side of the main square, Ed Boehm had a shop at the corner of Market and East Holum Streets. It was known as an implement company, but the major part of the business was Eddie’s blacksmith work. The building was built in 1889 and originally dealt in buggies, machinery and parts. Eddie sold his business in 1949 to Lloyd Legried, who dealt in new and used farm equipment. The shop was still used but the blacksmith equipment was moved out.
The third blacksmith business was on East Holum Street in a small shop that was run by Tom Moran. It was across Holum Street from the old pumping house and fire station.
There were two car dealerships in DeForest back then. Pulsfus and Johnson had the Chevrolet dealership at the corner of East Holum and Durkee Streets. The Grinde Motors Ford dealership on Durkee Street was right next to the used car lot of the Chevrolet used car lot.
Lloyd Thompson ran a busy auto repair business across the street from Pulsfus & Johnson, and had Standard Oil gas pumps in front of the building. This was before self-service gas stations and an attendant always came out to pump your gas, clean your windshield and check your oil. This downtown spot is now the fire station.
What is now the Genesis Hair & Spa building used to be the Wisconsin Power & Light building. The offices and an appliance show room took up the front part of the building which faced Commerce Street. The back part of the building was the garage for all the WP&L trucks and warehouse.
The Quam Grain Company, with its tall storage silos, was the high point of the downtown skyline and were taken down a few years later. The DeForest Area Library on Market Street was built after seven old buildings were taken down. One of those buildings was the old DeForest Times Office. For the first 12 years of my life I lived in the flat above the Times Office.
Many more old buildings on East Holum, South Main and Commerce Street were taken down to make way for the DeForest Main Square apartment buildings, with nice apartments on the upper floors and ground level shops and offices.
It would have been nice if some of the old attractive buildings like the old drug store and the brick building next to it could have been saved, but the truth of the matter was that the majority of the buildings had fallen into disrepair and it made economic sense to take them all down and put up new. If the redevelopment project would have started in the early 50s then many of the older buildings could have been saved although construction would have been more complicated to tie everything together.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
I do have to say that the library building with its dragon heads roof is a great looking building right in the heart of DeForest.
(Editor’s Note: The following is a joke.)
WELL, I FINALLY LOST IT . . . I was at the drug store where I saw a man whose cart was full to the point of overflowing with hand sanitizers, baby wipes, soaps, everything that people need!!
I called him a selfish @$%!#, and gave him the low down about the elderly, moms, and people who need these types of things. Told him he should be freaking ashamed of himself!
He said: “Are you done? Cause I really need to get back to re-stocking the shelves.”