Velkommen til Westby

Velkommen til Westby

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.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting all the Hagen store info. Rob was my dad's (Luther Olson) uncle. I have a memory of meeting him there in the store when I was a kid on one of our visits to Westby - some time in the late 60's, early 70's. Some of the Hagen store items are still around - passed down to our various families by my grandma, Harriet (Hagen) Olson. She and grandpa, Carmen Olson, moved to Powell, WY after my dad graduated. She had a few keepsake items from the store proudly displayed up on her shelves for as long as I can remember. That store was definitely a big part of her (and my Dad's) identity and their cherished memories of living in Westby.

    Mark Olson