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Smith Shopping Center Photographs, 1947 MISC MSS 350

Smith Shopping Center Photographs, 1947


Summary Information

Photographs of the first shopping center in La Crosse developed by Clarence B. Smith include five views, one exterior and four interior. These images, taken by the Trane Company, date from about April 1947 when the complex had its grand opening.
Collection Title
Smith Shopping Center Photographs
Date of Materials
Trane Company.
Call Number
0.01 cubic feet (1 folder)
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Smith Shopping Center Photographs, MISC MSS 350, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

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Historical Note

Emerson School, located north and just to the east of this shopping center on Campbell Road, was opened in 1940 as an orthopedic school, helping children in the La Crosse School District stricken with polio. Shortly after World War II, the residential Crowley Addition was developed and young couples with families began to fill this neighborhood. With the dreaded polio disease at bay and a the beginning of the baby boom hitting the schools, an addition to Emerson School in 1952 allowed the former Washington School to the west of the UWL campus to close.

Clarence B. Smith envisioned this growth and planned the first shopping center on Campbell Road between the campus and the elementary school. He carefully planted his drug store/soda fountain in a double spot and made sure that a grocery store, clothing and appliance store would help round out the different types of shopping as a destination east of downtown. Smith's Pharmacy occupied that spot at least until 1953 but sold it by 1955 to Degen-Berglund Pharmacy. Smith began to focus on another location in what became the Smith's Boulevard Store and later the Village Shop at the Village Shopping Center, another Smith owned enterprise. Smith left the pharmacy and retail business to become a realtor and developer.

At the time this shopping center opened in 1947, it was located across the street from the Fairgrounds area. Shortly after, the former harness race track area became Veterans' Memorial Stadium and was dedicated in 1948. The eastern edge of the Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) was bordered by East Avenue until 1956 when the Board of Regents and the La Crosse City Council came to agreement on the former Fairgrounds land. Once this happened, the Smith Shopping Center was squarely across the street from the campus.

Today (2016) the original building still exists and continues to serve retail needs.

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Scope and Contents note

Smith Shopping Center Photographs include one exterior and four interior views of the first shopping center in La Crosse taken in approximately 1947 by the Trane Company. Built by Clarence B. Smith, the complex at 1908-1920 Campbell Road was home to originally four stores which are represented in these photographs: Smith's Pharmacy, Cram Brothers Super Market, Larson's Home Appliance and Miss Greene's Campus Shop. Later, Welch's Radio joined the group on the east end. The photos, taken by the Trane Company, date from the time the grand opening occurred April 18-19, 1947.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 2017 January 16

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

(Accession no. 2016.156) Transferred from the La Crosse County Historical Society. Original donor was Clarence B. Smith.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • La Crosse County Historical Society (Wis.).
  • Smith Shopping Center (La Crosse, Wis.).


  • Black-and-white photographs

Geographic Name(s)

  • La Crosse (Wis.)--Photographs

Personal Name(s)

  • Smith, Clarence B., d. 1989


  • Commercial buildings--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Retail spaces--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Shopping centers--Wisconsin--La Crosse

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Electronic Content

These materials have been digitized.

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