Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Biederstaedt – Breitenbach Grocery
Erected 1977 by Madison Landmarks Commission. (Marker Number 55.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin, Madison Landmarks Commission series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1891.
Location. 43° 4.766′ N, 89° 22.199′ W. Marker is in Madison, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is at the intersection of Paterson Street and Williamson Street, on the right when traveling north on Paterson Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 853 Williamson St, Madison WI 53703, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Timothy and Katherine McCarthy House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hyer - Jaquish Hotel (about 400 feet away); John George Ott HouseB.B. Clarke (about 700 feet away); Madison Candy Company (about 700 feet away); Klose Cottage (about 800 feet away); Sauthoff House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kircher House (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Madison.
More about this marker. The marker is located on a building at the corner of Paterson and Williamson streets. The marker is facing Paterson Street, near the front of the building just below the painted advertisement for King Midas Flour.
Regarding Biederstaedt – Breitenbach Grocery. Breitenbach grocery was operated by George Breitenbach Sr and George Jr until George Sr’s death. Otto Breitenbach, George Jr’s brother, joined the business and remained proprietor with his wife Blanche after George Jr’s death in 1940. (1)
Another brother Henry Breitenbach operated a grocery store in the same block of Williamson St. (2)
Charles Biederstaedt’s sons Edward and Otto Biederstaedt built the Majestic, Madison’s second vaudeville theater, in 1906 (3) and attempted to establish a string of vaudeville theaters throughout the upper Midwest (4).
1) Noll, Henry, “Henry Noll’s Sunday Thoughts”, Wisconsin State Journal, Dec 5, 1943, vol. 153, no. 67, page 6.
2) Noll, Henry, “Henry Noll’s Sunday Thoughts”, Wisconsin State Journal, June 1, 1930, Vol 136, No 61, page 3.
4) Wisconsin State Journal, Oct 26, 1907, vol 110, no 23, page 7.
From Madison Landmarks Commission
The Biederstadt-Breitenbach Grocery was built in 1874 after the large fire that destroyed the back wing of Hyer's Hotel at 754 Jenifer Street also destroyed Biederstadt's grocery store on this site. Biederstadt soon rebuilt a large brick store building on the site and operated a grocery store until his death in 1890. The storefront was then leased to George C. Breitenbach and his son George F. The Breitenbach family eventually bought the building and continued to operate the store until 1951. A 1949 article in the Capital Times summed up the importance of the building:
Williamson Street in the old days was a very importan[t] thoroughfare...it was by far the best (an[d] under certain weather conditions, the only) street that tapped the rich farming country to the east and even the northeast of Madison. And Breitenbach's corner ...was the busiest spot on the street. The hitching posts and curb rings always tethered a full quota of farm wagons or bob sleds.
As was usual in those days, the grocery store also sold dry goods, feed, china and glassware. It also had a popular candy counter and the storefront at 851 was run by the family as a saloon. Of the several corner grocery store buildings remaining the Biederstadt-Breitenbach Grocery is the best and most intact example.
The landmark nomination form can be viewed at:
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. The original grocery was destroyed by the same fire that damaged the Hyer-Jaquish Hotel.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 15, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 15, 2010, by Diane Booth of Madison, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,613 times since then and 39 times this year. Last updated on July 18, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 15, 2010, by Diane Booth of Madison, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.