The history of Weller Hardware dates back to 1873. At that time, Henry Winter and his son William built a frame building at the corner of E. 12th and 1 S. Main in Clintonville, Waupaca Co., WI. The building contained a hardware store and tin shop. In 1884, this building was destroyed by fire and the Winters constructed the building which exists today, except for a new front was built in 1928.
Frank Weller (my great grandfather) came to Clintonville in 1908, after selling his farm in the Town of Little Wolf in Waupaca Co. He came with the intention of retiring. But he couldn’t take retirement and purchased a farm. In November of 1916, he had sold the farm and purchased H. Winter and Son Hardware.
Frank and his oldest son, Henry, operated Frank Weller Hardware Co. until 1922 when Russell, my grandfather, graduated from high school and came to work with his father. Frank Weller died in December of 1935 and Russell operated Weller Hardware until 1972, when he retired and sold the store. Both my dad and his brother worked in the hardware store.
We didn’t live near Wisconsin when growing up so visits with our grandparents were pretty rare. When we did visit in the summer, my parents would drop us kids off at Grandpa’s store and they’d continue a couple of blocks to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We’d get to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with Grandpa.
The store had a garage on the side of the building on 12th Street. Grandpa would park his car there and go in through the back. The garage was very small and his car barely fit through the door. He had a little office in the back of the store. I also remember going down into the damp basement that was used for storage.
Clintonville is a very small rural town with a population of about 4,000 people. Weller Hardware was a classic small town hardware store. The wood floors creaked and there was that unforgettable “hardware” smell inside.
He sold everything it seemed, from fishing tackle to bicycles, and every hardware item you could think of. Those were the days when everything wasn’t prepacked. I remember the bins full of every nail, screw, nut and bolt you could think of. I still have my little red wagon that we bought from the store. Even though I was young when Grandpa had his store, I have great memories of spending time there.
The building currently is the home of Zaddack & Associates Financial Group.
Pictures of the building in recent years: