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Historic Main Street: On-line Walking Tour



Historically, tobacco buyers and manufacturers built large centralized facilities to concentrate a number of smaller purchases into one large shipment.  Consequently, Stoughton’s location on the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad made it a logical choice for the siting of such warehouses.

The tobacco trade in Stoughton began in 1871 when Matthew Johnson bought and sold only a small amount.  Edgerton remained the local growers’ main market until James S. Hutson erected the warehouse in 1877. Tobacco growing, harvesting, sorting and shipping became a vital part of Stoughton’s economy. Stoughton prospered through World War I. Soon thereafter, however, the small city experienced a severe decline in the wagon making trade; while at the same time it felt the effects of years of soil-depleting tobacco farming practices. The amount and the rice of Stoughton’s tobacco declined.  By 1922, tobacco warehouses were laying off their employees or closed all together. By 1898, there were a total of seventeen tobacco warehouses in Stoughton, of which three still remain on Main Street near the railroad depots.  The success of the tobacco industry is reflected in the architectural details and massive scale of these warehouses.

The tobacco warehouses are representative of the development and longevity of the tobacco industry in Stoughton. The dependence of the tobacco industry on the local railroad is clear from the proximity of the warehouses to the tracks and freight depot.  Common to all warehouses are the tall windows capped with shouldered segmental arch lintels resting on protruding stone sills.

20.  515 East Main Street

Built between 1884 and 1887, this two story cream brick tobacco warehouse was originally used by Turner, Dearborn and Atkinson Tobacco. Different enterprises have used the building, including; Cullman’s and Rosenblum in 1892; Townsend & McCarthy and Cullman Brothers shared the building in 1898; Henry Miller and Townsend & McCarthy shared the building in 1904; and Cullman Brothers and Hanson & McCarthy shared the building in 1912.  Cullman Brothers and Halverson and Bitters shared the building in 1926.

22.  567 East Main Street

This cream brick two-story tobacco warehouse was constructed in 1888. The two-story brick addition on the east was added between 1912 and 1926. By 1898 it was the O.C. Lee Tobacco Warehouse.

21.  524 East Main Street

This warehouse was built of stone and cream brick in 1891 for Levi Kittleson of Waukesha. In 1898 the building was occupied by the O.K. Roe Tobacco Company. Between 1912 and 1926, it became the L.B. Carl Tobacco Warehouse.


23.  529 East Main Street:  Freight Depot

This building, Stoughton’s first depot, was constructed by 1861 at what was then the east end of Main Street, with tracks flanking the east and west sides of the building.  The depot has been altered on the front, but on the west elevation he outlines of the original Italianate windows and the Italianate brackets in the eaves are still visible.

24.  532 East Main Street:  Passenger Depot

Built in 1913, this depot has American Craftsman style architectural details, such as the wide overhanging eaves, the exposed rafters, the projecting belt course, and the use of stucco on the exterior walls.  The depot across Main Street became the freight depot, while this newer depot handled passenger traffic. Unlike neighboring villages where the railroad did not stop, Stoughton had a healthy, growing economy from the 1880’s to the 1920’s. The railroad’s presence made Stoughton a center for agriculture, since products and people could be transported easily to and from the city.


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