Our Historic Building
“We are bringing it back not only in a new way but in the way it once was.”
- Deb Lash
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.”