The Tribune is taking an A-to-Z look at La Crosse area history.
Doerflinger's Department Store, which was located at 400 Main St., was a fixture in downtown La Crosse until 1984. Duluth Trading Co. opened a retail store on the building's first floor in 2016, and the upper floors now house offices, including those of La Crosse-based Authenticom. Here's a look back at the history of one of the city's landmark businesses and buildings.
Doerflinger's Department Store opened its first branch location, a 2,500-square foot store in Jackson Plaza. Later, the La Crosse-based retailer would have stores in the Village Shopping Center and Valley View Mall in La Crosse, and Center 90 Shopping Center in Onalaska.
A remodeling project at Doerflinger's Department Store was completed in 1976. New fixtures, lighting and flooring were part of the $250,000 project, according to Doerflinger's President Samuel Fellows.
This was the view of the remodeled accessories department, which was located inside the Main Street door of Doerflinger's Department Store.
A new cosmetics department was part of a remodel in 1976 at Doerflinger's Department Store.
This photo, taken in the spring of 1979, shows the renovated basement at Doerflinger's Department Store.
Anita LaPage, left, a merchandising coordinator at 17 magazine, is assisted in her fashion demonstration at the Doerflinger's Department Store in Valley View Mall by Onalaska High School student Ellen Fernholz.
Clerks Sue Anderson, left, and Cherryl Merfeld, demonstrate a new IBM 5260 computer system at Doerflinger's Department Store. The La Crosse store was one of the first retailers in the county to install such a system.
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Doerflinger's Department Store was one of the first tenants of Valley View Mall when it opened in 1980 along Hwy. 16.
The handiwork of senior citizens was displayed at the Gifted Hands gift shop, which was located on the third floor of the Doerflinger's Department Store. Helen Moen is shown here arranging some of the items.
People stand outside Doerflinger's Department Store on the morning of May 31, 1984, before the retailer opened its doors for the final time. The family-owned store failed to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings earlier that year. "Everyone's said they're sorry to see us go," cashier Annette Jacobsen told the Tribune.
People crowd around to bid on store fixtures during an auction on June 12, 1984, shortly after Doerflinger's Department Store closed after 103 years in business.
Mike Keil purchased the Doerflinger building in 2004 and spent years renovating the four-story structure. The city took ownership of the building in 1987 after one failed development, and its future remained very much in doubt throughout the 1990s. After several development proposals, the city sold the building to MPC Systems Inc. in 1998 with a promise from developer Conrad Seymour that he would restore the building. The development seemed doomed from the beginning, and after years of legal battles, the city finally won the right to buy the building back in 2004, and it was then sold to Keil.
Workers with La Crosse Sign Co. install a sign for Duluth Trading Co. on May 18 that is a re-creation of the Doerflinger's sign that hung in the same location years ago. The Wisconsin-based retailer held its grand opening on June 16.