Museum logo

La Crosse County Historical Society discovers, collects, preserves, and shares the history of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object Name Print
Catalog Number 2015.fic.364e
Description The Holway Home
Collection La Crosse County Historical Society Collection
Title The Holway Home
People Nudd, Chris
Search Terms Holway Home
Notes Part of a series of 15 prints by Chris Nudd "La Crosse Scenes".

Text with print:

"Cass Street is often referred to by youngsters as the "street of castles". A typical example of what they refer to is the Holway house located at Cass and 14th Street.

In 1888 the architects Stoltze and Schick formed a partnership and curing the next few years designed many buildings in La Crosse. Some of these are the present city hall, the Tillman Brothers store building (Leitholds'), the Holway house and the Gantert house on the southeast corner of 13th and Main Streets.

Gustav Stoltze, a German, received his architectural training in the technical schools of Boston. He came to La Crosse in 1885. Hugo Schick, whose training had been acquired in his native Vienna, came to La Crosse in 1886.

A style of building which gained popularity in the 1890s was the Romanesque structure which was usually brick or stone in various patterns and textures. The buildings were picturesque and castle-like in appearance with steep hipped roofs, corner towers or turrets and semicircular arched windows and doors. All these features can be seen in the La Crosse City Hall.

Residences followed the same ornate design with the addition of bay windows and the covered drive entrance or port-cochere as seen in the Holway house. The former jigsaw ornament was now replaced by the product of the turning lathe and was used wherever space would allow.

The Romanesque style was suitable for large buildings and even its influence was seen on the small house in steep roofs, corner towers, bay windows and gables with patterned shingles and front porches with turned posts and rails. Although the present Episcopal Church at 9th and Main Streets is not the work of a local architect, it was built in the nineties and is an excellent sample of Romanesque architecture.

N. B. Holway came to La Crosse in 1854 and started business as a manufacturer of, and dealer in, lumber lath and shingles. He was a native of Somerset County, Maine, and his wife, Sarah Jane Blackwell, was also a native of Maine. Holway had four children by his first wife and three by his second wife Jessie M. Hogan of La Crosse.

Holway's sawmill was located on the Black River in north La Crosse, near the railroad track of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad and included four blocks. It was purchased from Robert Ross by Holway in 1876, and he worked it until June, 1877, when it was destroyed by fire. In no way disheartened by the calamity, he soon rebuilt and was in business again by the following spring. The cutting capacity of the mill was 100,000 feet per day.

In June, 1878, another calamity closed the mill until May, 1879. A bolt in the engine gave way and was carried into the machinery, breaking it and causing incalculable damage. However, 1880 excelled all previous years by turning out 18.5 million feet of lumber, 7.25 million shingles; 1 million laths and 7,500 cords of slabs, and all of this with only two circular saws.

Nearly all the lumber, shingles, and lath manufactured by Holway were rafted down the Mississippi to lumber markets between La Crosse and St.Louis. The mill employed 150 and wages ranged from $1.25 to $5 per day. Holway was the only lumber man in La Crosse who paid any attention to the sale of sawdust. The dust was sifted and kept clear of bark and sticks. It sold for 50 cents per cord at the mill and was shipped to customers by railroad at $8 per car. The sale of this article increased rapidly and netted Holway a tidy profit.

There was no city in state more interested in the lumber business than La Crosse, and the city made quite a name for itself as a lumber center. Comparatively speaking, lumber was to La Crosse what iron was to Pittsburgh, cotton and sugar to New Orleans, commerce to New York, mines to San Francisco and beer to Milwaukee. In the 1800s it was by far the largest and most important industry in this section of the country.

Many leading lumbermen settled here and gave the city standing and reputation as a lumber center of importance. The majority of the wealthy citizens of La Crosse were engaged in some capacity in the lumber trade. They were public-spirited men and contributed heavily to the welfare and growth of the city."