Prescott was a thriving river town during the 1850s and ‘60s. For the visitor interested in the Historic Walking Tour, we recommended beginning from the Welcome & Heritage Center.
Welcome & Heritage Center, 233 Broad St. N., is located in the 1885 H.S. Miller Bank Building which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The adjoining building was built in 1884 by E.H. Ives, where he published the Pierce County Plaindealer forerunner of the Prescott Journal.
Kaitlin’s Cottage/Amish Goods is the former Prescott Spinner Factory, 207 Broad St. N., 1869. Originally it was a saddle and harness shop. From 1928 to 1945 the Prescott Spinner Factory occupied the first floor where fishing lures, spinners, flies, and baits were developed and produced. The spinner inventor, Charles Stapf and his wife Della, lived on the second floor.
1870’s Brick Commercial Buildings are seen all along Broad Street. Many of these buildings originally had the same window design seen on the Welcome & Heritage Center and J’Bean’s Jewelry. Look at the second floor of Main Street business buildings as to a clue to the age of a building; first floor facades of most buildings have been altered during the 1950s. Wooden frame buildings on Main Street are over a hundred years old.
The Boardwalk, 202 Broad St. N., 1874/1918. This was a three-story building housing first-floor shops, second-floor offices and a large hall on the third floor. There was a fire in the building in 1918, after which it was rebuilt into its present style. Old limestone walls and burned rafters are visible in the building. At a later date it housed the Cernohous Chevrolet Garage, then was remodeled into a variety of shops and offices.
Brandt Law Office, 122 Orange St., 1857. Originally the building housed a harness shop and was the local telephone office. In 1985 the building was restored with careful attention to historic detail.
J’Bean Jewelers, 206 Broad St., 1883. This originally housed John Neinstadt’s saloon. The building retains its original structure and architectural detail including the distinctive windows and the interior tinplate ceiling.
River Bank Antiques, 220 Broad St. N., 1856. This is one of the oldest buildings in Prescott and originally housed a hardware store. During World War I it was used as a barracks for a company of Stillwater soldiers, who were sent here to guard the Prescott railroad bridge, a vital transportation link. Inside is a large mural of the steamboat landing on Prescott’s river front.
Mercord Mill Park located at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. In 1852 a sawmill was on this property, and later the Mercord family ran a flour mill on the location. A historic plaque was installed by the Prescott Area Historical Society in 1976 and in 1993 the Mercord family erected a historic marker.
Vertical-Lift Bridge Gear-house, 1923. This building was salvaged and restored in 1991 when the old highway bridge was replaced by the existing bridge. Step inside and enjoy the historical photo display as well as the original gear mechanism.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 269 Dakota St. S., 1912. The twin domed steeples are landmarks for travelers on the river and highways. The church towers above the downtown area on the site of the original church. A view of the St. Croix/Mississippi Rivers and downtown area can be seen from the parking lot. Two large stained glass windows depict St. Patrick and the Good Shepherd.
Daniel Smith House, 331 Lake St., 1853. This is the only home in Pierce County on the National Register of Historic Places. It is an example of Greek Revival style. A unique feature is the free-standing copper water tower in the yard. Smith was a gunsmith; Mrs. Smith taught school in the home prior to establishment of a public school in Prescott.
Other examples of Greek Revival and Italianate style homes occur through-out Prescott.
Point Douglas, Minnesota. There is a beautiful view of Lake St. Croix from the bridge sidewalk. Across from Prescott is Point Douglas, once a thriving community with a sawmill, two hotels, a school and 15 homes. The remaining home has been documented as a typical Minnesota Greek Revival style of the 1840s. It may be one of the oldest remaining such structures in the state.
Lake St. Croix This is the mouth of the St. Croix River where it empties into the Mississippi River. In 1855 there were 17 lumber mills along the St. Croix from St. Croix Falls to Prescott. Huge rafts of logs were floated down the St. Croix destined for downriver mills. Within 50 years most of the white pine trees had been logged off and the demise of river towns began.
The St. Croix is 154 miles long, draining a region of 7,500 square miles and is protected by an amended version of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
All text used with permission from Helmer Printing, Inc. Copywrite 2007-2008. All Rights Reserved.
Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce, 237 Broad St., Prescott, WI 54021
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