Velkommen til Westby

Velkommen til Westby

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Westby Standpipe


Original standpipe (water tower) built in 1900
In 1899, when Westby had a population of 524, it was decided that all citizens should have the availability of a village water system for all their water needs as well as be able to fight fires. Before this, there was a village well located close to the stockyard and a wooden windmill located east of Main Street and north of First street. Apparently not everyone was connected to village water, however, and those who were, did not have enough water pressure if a fire emergency should arise.

Andrew H. Dahl, in his first general store, that was made of wood, had his own firefighting equipment. He had a sprinkler system. The sprinklers were either connected to the village water system or he had a water storage tank in the attic or both. In the bigger cities this was common but probably he was the only one in Westby who had such a luxury.

A half acre site for the construction of the water tower and well were bought from Ole Thoreson for $100. The site was described as a solid rock 60 feet hill, located in the center of the village.

Original tower with 15 feet in height
and a roof added in the ‘30s
Construction of the water tower and the new well were completed in 1900. Both were located on the hill behind where the Stabbur is located today. The new water tower was 16 feet in diameter and 50 feet tall and the well was dug a depth of 300 feet as a cost of $313.20. The last well dug in Westby in 1975 cost almost $250,000.

When the water tower was completed in 1900, it did not have roof, so anything flying over, could and sometimes did, fall in. A roof was added sometine in the middle to late 1930s. Also at this time an additional 15 feet of height was added.

For 84 years, with the addition of a water storage tank located north of the ballpark, this water tower served the water needs of Westby until it was replaced in 1984 by what we have today. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Country Collectables

Country Collectibles in the former Hagen Grocery
After Rob Hagen died, Betty and Leonard Lund bought the Hagen Store and opened B & L Antiques. After Leonard died, and before selling the Hagen Store to Country Collectables, Betty rented out the store, first to a shoe store for a short time and later Dulin Electronics.

Country Collectables started life in the Thorsen building in November of 1986 by co-mingling several home based businesses. Getting things out of the house took on new meaning as a building one thought could never be filled became pleasingly stuffed.

After 48 years the void created by the Hagen Store fire that happened in September 1941, was about to come to an end. When progress demanded moving, the decision led the Solbergs to purchase the lot formally occupied by the Hagen Store. Since the storeroom of the Hagen building remained on the property after the main store was destroyed by fire, the Solbergs decision to build their new structure in front of and including the storeroom seemed like a good one. Besides retaining the history of the Hagen Store it provided more useable space always at a premium in the antique business.

Upon completion of the new building all of the occupants organized a mass moving and with the aid of three trucks and a few strong-armed men, who carried a showcase across the road, neither store closed for even a minute.

The above photo was taken in the original storeroom of the Hagen Grocery Store that became part of Country Collectables. Some of the articles for sale in this 2000 photo are the same items that were sold 125 years ago when Johan Michelet had his store at this location. And many of the items are the articles that were sold by Hagen & Preuss, Hagen Mercantile Company, Hagen Dry Goods, Hagen’s Clover Farm and Hagen’s Grocery Store in the 69 years that Otto or Reuben Hagen were located at 105 South Main Street.

For more information on the Hagen & Preus, Hagen Mercantile Company, Hagen Dry Goods, Hagen’s Clover Farm Store and Hagen Grocery Store,  click  HERE.

Adams Eye Clinic is now located at this address and the original storeroom from the Hagen Grocery is still being used as part of the eye clinic.
Adams Eye Clinic


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hagen Grocery

Left to right: Clerk, Joseph Borgen, Chester Olson and Phillip Hagen.
In the Hagen Dry Goods taken about 1910 and 1915


Hagen & Preus, Hagen Mercantile Company, Hagen Dry Goods, Hagen’s Clover Farm Store and Hagen Grocery Store are the five names that Otto Hagen and his son Reuben Hagen (Rob) used in the 69 years that they were in business.

Johan Michelet established his Blue Front Store in 1891 and continued it until 1905. The details of how and why Otto Hagen became the new owner is unknown. Blue Front Store

For many years until 1972 when Westby combined the offices of treasurer and city clerk, Rob was the treasurer of Westby and anybody who had taxes to pay would make at least one visit a year to his store. And, as hard as it is to believe today, he really did keep our tax money in a cigar box. At least until the end of the day when the money went in his safe. 

For those of you who do not remember Otto, one of his distinguishing features was his very thick white hair.

Left to right: Chester Olson, Blaine Running, Ole Paulsrud and Phillip Hagen in about 1920

In 1905, when Otto Hagen and George Preus first opened their dry goods store it was only one half of the size it would later become as sometime before 1925 tow adjoining building on Main Street became one. Preus was partner for a very short time, later showing up living in la Crosse. He must have kept Westby ties as obituary was listed in The Westby Times as a former prominent citizen.

Like so many other early buildings built of wood, the Hagen Grocery became another victim of fire. In September of 1941 the main part of the Hagen Grocery was destroyed by fire. Instead of rebuilding the damaged part of the store, the storage room behind the store became the new store. This newer addition was made of a fireproof material so it was able to survive the fire without any damage. For almost 20 years, the floor of the old burned down building was left so anyone going into the store had to walk across the boardwalk-like decking surrounded by bushes and a few blooming plants.

First, Otto Hagen, and later his son Reuben (Rob) ran the Hagen Grocery from 1905 until 1974 when Rob died.

For a time, Hagen Mercantile sold gasoline. Two pumps show up on a few photographs and were located about where the curb is today.