Casper Weckerle Grocery Buildings

St. Joseph
Buchanan County

Capser Weckerle, a sSwiss-German emigrant, had for some years been a partner in the firm of Uhligner & Weckerle before opening his own grocery store in 1879. Weckerle’s store was located at 322-324 South 4th Street with his business on the first floor and the family home upstairs. Records point to the construction of these newer buildings in 1890. Casper Weckerle operated the store until his death in November 1901.

The Italianate style commercial structure and parapet of the flat roof is underscored by pressed metal dentilated molding. The storefronts below also use metal in the cast, fluted Ionic columns that flank the deep reveals host double doors and have been partially obscured by modern alterations to the transom, door, and bulkhead areas. The entry to the second floor apartment is between the two storefronts and has decorated indentations with chamfered corners. On the second story centered above each storefront is a wide round arched tripartite window surrounded by rough textured, radiating brick.

Weckerle in 1890 built a second commercial building immediately north at 318-320 S. 4th Street. The building’s wide, arched tripartite windows surrounded with radiating rough textured brick indicate strong influence from the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The store’s retain their original arch label lintels accented by keystones. Unfortunately the cornice on the front has since been removed. Each store entryway has cast metal supports with rope molding columns.

The interior of both buildings feature largely open floor plans with few internal partitions. Both buildings have suffered greatly from water damage. Permanent roof and structural repairs to the ceiling and floor joists are needed. Both 318-320 and 322-324S. 4th Street are contributing buildings in the South Fourth Street National Register Historic District.

Vacant for over a decade, the structures have suffered from deferred maintenance. Leaking roofs have caused structural damage, most recently resulting in the collapse of the first floor of one of the four units. Total re-roofing and stabilization of walls and floors are immediately needed.

Compounding problems even further, the property until recently was left abandoned when the owner of record passed away and no heirs claimed the property. The title has also been encumbered with various liens and judgments. A buyer stepped forward two years ago and has removed some seventy tons of debris from these properties. Unfortunately it appears that the new owner has run low on the additional funds needed to save these wonderful buildings. The question remains whether or not the property’s many problems can be resolved before it is too late.

Listed in 2004

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