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. 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 kitchen. There will also be a quiet room, with couches and easy chairs, to be used as a rest room. This will be available for the use of business girls, as well as out of town shoppers who desire a place to rest before train time.
The third floor will be devoted principally to the physical education department. On this floor is a hall of good dimensions, ideal for a gymnasium, which will be greeted with joy by the many girls who at various times attempted basketball and other games in the cramped quarters on Cass Street.
At the rear of the gymnasium will be locker rooms, dressing rooms, showers, bathrooms and an office for the physical director. A well equipped kitchen will also be located on this floor, making possible the use of the gymnasium for banquets, etc.”
Once again, the John Rehfuss building is undergoing a historic renovation with the current owner and operator of The Wedding Tree, Debra Lash. Every square inch of the 22,000 sq. ft., three story building, will be touched when renovations are complete. Currently, the second floor bridal remodel finished in Nov 2014, with the 1st floor renovations occurring right now. The 1st floor will be men’s and women’s special occasion formal wear, including tuxes, suits and prom dresses. An elevator will be added, highlighted by a new lobby that features a drive though drop off for easy tux and suit rental and returns. What once was the 3rd floor YWCA gymnasium in 1930 will be transformed into “The Court Above Main” reception, banquet, corporate meeting hall to open this May 2015.
“We are bringing it back not only in a new way but in the way it once was,” Deb Lash, Owner.
Now booking 2015 and 2016 wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, private parties, anniversaries, corporate meetings, retreats and conferences, board meetings and birthday parties on our historic third floor. Contact us for more information.