Sunday, October 07, 2012

Hometown: Sights and Memories--Now and Then on Superior Avenue

As I mentioned in my last update, visits to your hometown turn everyday sights into photo opportunities.  My stop at Superior Avenue is no exception.  Trying to compare my new images to old ones has left me with a challenge.

As a young child, I often walked along this street.  When I was in kindergarten at Jefferson School,  I walked the long way to school over the Superior Avenue viaduct.  Kuehlmann Sheet Metal and Heating Company was in the brick building on the southwest corner.   

Only later, as a teenager, did I learn that my mother grew up near this viaduct at 1711 Superior Avenue. We talked about many things in her life but we never talked enough about what it was like to grow up on Superior Ave. The best way I can tie back to her time there is through photos of now and then. 

The picture below on the left is my mother and her best friend, Lydia Schneider. I always thought this picture was taken in the 1940s next to the former Kuehlmann building, before Kuehlmann occupied the site. I captured the picture on the right during my recent visit to Sheboygan on August 18, 2012.

The ivy over the building now covers the bricks and the facade underneath it. Yet when I google the address, the view of the building without ivy does not match the brick facade on the picture from the 1940s.  Check out the link below and click on the arrows until you see the white brick building with just a trace of ivy.  

Also, the sidewalk in the 1940s picture is much wider than the sidewalk in the picture I took last August. Could the sidewalk now be narrower due to changes made when the viaduct was under re- construction?  I believe the viaduct was rebuilt in the 1990s.  It is possible the sidewalk changed but the narrow sidewalk appears older than the 1990s. Could these be the same sidewalks on which my mother roller skated as a young girl? And, the grassy patch between the sidewalk and brick building also contradicts my understanding of where the picture was taken. 

Ivy covers former Kuehlmann Building August 2012
So where were my Mom and her friend Lydia when this picture was taken?  There are many brick buildings in Sheboygan, from Central High School to many downtown stores.  I would greatly appreciate input from anyone who is familiar with the brick buildings in Sheboygan during the 1940s.  Any idea on the what building may match the one in the background?

I have a few clues about my Mom's early life in this house from experiences she shared with me.  I know her grandfather lived with her family. I know her mother was a great cook. Her father raised rabbits in the backyard.  My Mom considered them her pets, even though rabbit occasionally was the main course on Sunday. 

Another picture clearly shows my Mom at her home as it includes a view of the old Superior Avenue viaduct with the iron railings.  Below, Lydia and my Mom look south from her home and appear to stand between the house and an add on to the brick corner building.  While google shots of the house now show sidewalk on the other side of the building, it appears that the girls are between the house and an add on to the brick building.  

The photograph below shows the current view between the house and the brick building looking south from the viaduct.  You can see most of  the sidewalk is no longer there.  

This picture below clearly shows one piece of the original sidewalk which is the only piece which remains of the walk next to which my mom and Lydia stood.

Again, I am open to ideas to better pinpoint the location but I think it is reasonable to conclude the location of the photograph with the viaduct in the background.  

And, here is my daughter Ashley taking a photograph of the house at 1711 Superior Ave in August, 2012.

I am also curious about Irwin Koepke's business that occupied the brick building before Kuehlmann's opened on June 9,  1959. Koepke's business would have been in place when my mother lived here. (Source:

When I return to Sheboygan, I will be certain to more picture of this house, perhaps one from the alley so I can try to match up the setting with my photograph from the 1940s.  If you have any ideas on the site of the first picture, or ave  more information about the house at 1711 Superior Avenue, I would be happy to hear from you. 

Close-up of the Ivy on the former Kuehlmann building
The west side of 1711 Superior next to 1713 Superior Ave.

The new Jefferson School at the same site of the old school where I attended kindergarten

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