On March 15, 1988 the General Store made its way to Pinecrest Historical Village. This project marked the first major development at the Village since the Petzold Smokehouse in 1985.
The General Store, built in the 1870s, was originally located in the village of Clarks Mills, just four miles west of Pinecrest Historical Village. This 20 x 55 foot one-story frame building features a “Boomtown” or false front, gabled roof, recessed doorway and a hardwood floor.
The General Store was operated by Michael and Catherina Pritzl prior to 1910 and by William and Rose Klann from 1910 to 1926. The building was purchased by Harold Morgan in 1926 who operated it as “Morgan’s Store” until his death in 1961. The building was sold again in 1977 to Dennis Jagodzinsky who operated it as DJ’s Appliance Sales and Service until 1983.
The general Store was sold for one dollar to the Society by the United Savings and Loan Association of Manitowoc (now M&I Bank). It was moved in 1988 at a cost of $6,000. Public restrooms have been added at the rear of the building.
The front of the building wasrestored to its original appearance using double front doors and windows salvaged from the 1868 Killen General Store and post office razed in 1994 during the U.S. highway 10 relocation project at Cato, Wisconsin. Renovation work was guided by photographs and picture postcards of the store building from 1907 and 1909. The exhibit features counters, bins, barrels, crocks, jars, household items and farm supplies from the Society’s permanent collections, including historic items from the Schuette Brothers Company department store which was located in downtown Manitowoc from 1849 to 1994.
In the days before the advent of the automobile, movies, radio and television, the general store was the meeting place where news was exchanged, mail was sent and received, gossip and tall tales flowed around the pot-bellied stove, and checkers and cards were played over the cracker barrel.
General stores were the center of economic activity in many small communities in the late 1890s and early 1900s, a place where seed and crops were bartered or sold and everything people were not able to make or raise at home or on the farm could be found. The general store was the place to purchase a bar of soap, nails and hardware, thread or broad cloth for making clothes for the family, hats and hat pins, candies, toys and other treasures. Storekeepers were leading citizens of their communities. They extended and denied credit for food, supplies, and other goods against farmers’ next crop. No rural community could hope to become a village without a general store.
In late 2001, the Manitowoc County Historical Society Board of Directors re-evaluated the status of the General Store and gave high priority to its restoration. A General Store committee consisting of members Richard Smith, August Schuette, Judy Brasser and Marjorie “Peg” Harder, were tasked with the restoration efforts. A diving wall was constructed and existing shelving was re-fabricated and painted.
The General Store officially opened to the public on September 21, 2003 during the Society’s Harvest Festival.