Our Historic Building
“We are bringing it back not only in a new way but in the way it once was.”
- Deb Lash
Once again, the John Rehfuss building underwent a historic renovation in 2014 with the current owner and operator of The Wedding Tree, Debra Lash. Every square inch of the 22,000 square foot three-story building was touched when renovations were completed, including an addition to the back of the builiding allowing a private entrance for The Court Above Main, elevator access to all four floors, and a private bridal suite included with all wedding rentals of The Court Above Main. The second floor now holds all of the bridal gowns, finishing touches of veils and jewelry, and 6 private bridal fitting rooms for your closest friends and family. The first floor has bridesmaid dresses, flower girls, special occasion and Mother’s dresses, the largest prom dress selection in western Wisconsin, and a tuxedo/suit formal wear department. An elevator has been added for easy access to the new historically renovated third-floor event/reception hall, The Court Above Main. What once was the 3rd floor YWCA gymnasium and La Crosse society ballroom in 1931 and before, has been transformed into “The Court Above Main” reception, banquet, corporate meeting hall, booking for wedding ceremonies and receptions, rehearsal dinners, private parties, anniversaries, corporate meetings, retreats, conferences, and board meetings.
Built in 1894, the John Rehfuss building, located at 418 and 420 Main Street, Downtown La Crosse, WI was built for the Ludwig Coren Dry Goods and Ladies’ furnishings and in 1918 became the S.S. Kresge Department Store until 1963.
S.S. Kresge was one of the original “dime store” owners, also known as five-and-ten-cent stores. By 1917, Kresge had over 150 stores and was second to the biggest dime store Woolworth’s.
During the time that Coren operated his store here and continuing with the next two tenants, the building also served as a public hall on the third floor. This is one of many around the City of La Crosse where groups could hold their meetings, etc.
The John Rehfuss building has some historical significance for its association with the social history of La Crosse as the site of the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) from around 1918 until 1931. The YWCA was headquartered on the second floor of the building at the same time that the Kresge Department Store occupied the building.
On November 22,1918 the YWCA announced their move downtown to our building at 418-420 Main Street:
“How it is planned: The association rooms proper will be located on the second floor of the building, with the front portion devoted to parlors and reading and music rooms. On this floor, there will also be general business office, office of the general secretary, cloak rooms, a number of class and club rooms with folding partitions allowing the rooms to be thrown open into an assembly room, lavatories and a kitchen. There will also be a quiet room with couches and easy chairs to be used as a restroom. This will be available for the use of business girls, as well as out of town shoppers who desire a place to rest before a train time.”