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HISTORY

AD German and Wright

John German came from Wales to America in 1840 with his parents when he was eleven years old. The family took up residence in New York state where he lived for twenty-seven years before moving to Richland County, Wisconsin. German was an inventor of a number of items including a corn planter, an adjustable hospital bed, and a cheese factory milk can. The large family home still stands near Aubrey Corners just off Highway 58. Albert German, who built the warehouse on Haseltine Street, was the youngest of seven children born to John and Louisa German: John, Fred, Daniel, Grant, Anna, Minnie, and Albert.

Albert stayed on the farm until he married his first wife Grace Alta Moore in 1899. He started his German Jobbing Service soon after locating in Richland Center. In 1909, Alta died leaving him with two daughters, Anna and Veva. He had built a home on Church Street in 1906 and in 1907 bought the Mitchell Hotel located on the corner of Haseltine and Church Streets. In 1909 he built another home almost like the first next to the hotel; renamed the Hotel Badger.

A.D. German married a second time to Mae B. Joslin the youngest daughter of Major W.H. Joslin. Major Joslin had served in the civil war and his family was well known in Richland Center. Albert and Mae married in 1912, which coincided with building the first German Warehouse directly adjacent to the Hotel Badger. German’s business in 1912 was quite successful with additional operations in Platteville and Prairie du Chien. 

A.D. German is primarily known for his relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright and the subsequent design and partial construction of the German Warehouse which began in 1917 on the space formerly occupied by the Hotel Badger. In the Richland Democrat of Oct. 4, 1916, German explained his plans to build a warehouse to house the commodities he traded, flour, sugar, feed, and other grocery items. He announced the plans were being prepared by the Architect Frank Lloyd Wright and that the building would cost approximately $30,000. The building eventually cost $125,000 when construction had to be stopped in 1921 and the functions other than a wholesale grocery warehouse never came to fruition. German used the warehouse for wholesale storage of sugar, flour, feed, coal, cement and groceries from 1921 through 1927.
Mae Joslin German also died prematurely at age forty-four from a stroke. Mr. German’s third marriage to Lucille Haas was short lived. A.D. German relocated to Florida, then Cincinnati, eventually settling in New York City. He died while on a trip to Holland, Michigan in 1945 at the age of sixty-nine and burial was made in New York City.

The German Family

John German came from Wales to America in 1840 with his parents when he was eleven years old. The family took up residence in New York state where he lived for twenty-seven years before moving to Richland County, Wisconsin. German was an inventor of a number of items including a corn planter, an adjustable hospital bed and a cheese factory milk can. The large family home still stands near Aubrey Corners just off Highway 58. Albert German, who built the warehouse on Haseltine Street, was the youngest of seven children born to John and Louisa German: John, Fred, Daniel, Grant, Anna, Minnie and Albert.

Front Row (L-R): Minnie, Albert, Louisa, John Sr., Fred, Anna
​Back Row (L-R): Daniel, John Jr., Grant - Trudy Kinyon photo.

AD German Warehouse

The A.D. German Warehouse, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 300 South Church Street, NRHP 1974.  Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867 to William Carey Wright and Anna Lloyd Jones Wright somewhere in Richland County. His exact birthplace remains a matter of dispute with seven locations being in contention. During, 1917 through 1921, some of the most tumultuous years of his life, Wright designed the German Warehouse in his home town for Albert Dell German. A.D. German was in the wholesale grocery business. Legend has it that Wright’s work on the warehouse was initiated as possible pay back for money owed

The Warehouse follows the design mode of this time frame exhibited in other Wright buildings such as the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, the Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York, Midway Gardens in Chicago and the Frederick C. Bogk House in Milwaukee. The Warehouse features plain brick surfaces broken by vertical slits extending from the base to the frieze. The German Warehouse is dominated by a broad corbeled concrete frieze ornamented by cast concrete ornament and narrow window slits. The building has four floors, approximately 4,000 sq. ft. each and has an open floor plan on each level. Significant as an example of early poured concrete construction, the building rests on a pad of cork for stability and shock absorption. Wright used concrete slabs for the floors supported by concrete columns that grow smaller in size proceeding upward to the fourth floor. Construction was stopped with the building unfinished in 1921, after spending $125,000. The building has been altered over the years with modifications of the interior to accommodate the various occupants. It is the only remaining commercial structure designed by Wright that still exists from this time period. As time passes, its architectural and historic significance continues to grow, reaching far from its location on the corner of Church and Haseltine Streets in Richland Center.

The First German Warehouse