100 South 3rd Street, La Crosse, WI

The Rodolf Building, built in 1868, 1870, 1878. Currently The Renaissance Center.

100 South 3rd Street,La Crosse


RENT: Negotiable, depending upon lease term


Click Here To Read The History Of This Building


115 5th Ave S. La Crosse

View from sidewalk on Main Street facing south on 3rd Street

This ground floor retail/office space features an expansive show room, gas heat, numerous electrical outlets, restrooms, display windows along Main Street and 3rd Street, and is located on one of the busiest retail corners in downtown La Crosse.

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Located on the southwest corner of Third and Main Streets in the heart of downtown
La Crosse, the three-story, red-brick Rodolf Building is the oldest surviving example of Commercial Italianate architecture in the city.

The removal of the 1960s vintage metal false-front has revealed the facade of the second and third stories with most of the original architectural ornament intact. The exterior of the Rodolf Block now complements many of the other restored and well-maintained late 19th century facades in the 100 block of south Main Street.

The nearly cubic Rodolf Block is divided into three bays on both the Main Street and Third Street facades with a symmetrical grouping of two, three or four matching, tall, narrow windows. The projecting, ornamental hood moldings, slightly different on the second and third floors, are typical of the Italianate commercial style. The brick pilasters with cut limestone base and capitals along with the corbelled and cut cornice are also common Italianate decorative details. The projecting parapet with curved limestone insets defines the center of each of the three sections built sequentially from east to west along Main Street over a ten-year period. On the northeast corner of the building, just above the base of the corner pilaster, is a limestone corner block with the street names inscribed. Cast iron elements used in the remodeling of the Rodolf Block in 1891 were supplied by the John Torrance Foundry of La Crosse. Like many commercial buildings built in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the street level façade of the Rodolf Block was significantly altered years ago and is now being rehabilitated. New tenants include two specialty shops with plans for offices and living space on the upper floors.

Theodore Rodolf (1814-1892) was born in the German-speaking canton of Argovia, Switzerland. In 1832, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in New Orleans where two years later his father died of yellow fever. Two years later, the Rodolf family traveled up river and settled in the lead-mining region of southwestern Wisconsin. After farming, mining and merchandising with varying success in the Mineral Point area, in 1853 Theodore Rodolf was appointed receiver of the newly opened land office in La Crosse. He quickly became a prominent civic leader and chaired the committee that drafted the City of La Crosse charter in 1856. After serving four years on the La Crosse County Board, one year as chairman, he was elected to a one-year term as mayor of La Crosse in 1868 and elected again in 1870. During those two terms as mayor, Rodolf also served as a representative in the Wisconsin State Legislature. He was active on the national political scene as well, serving as a Democratic presidential elector in 1864 and 1868.

The Rodolf Block, which was built in three nearly equal-sized sections in 1868, 1870 and 1878, became the center of the city’s social life for many years. This prominent downtown building became the home of several fraternal organizations serving the Norwegian and German-speaking population in La Crosse. The Young Men’s Library Association also met in the Rodolf Block until their merger with the La Crosse Public Library in 1888. The first meeting place for the YMCA in La Crosse was in the Rodolf Block. One of the longest residing and best-known tenants was the La Crosse Business College which opened in the Rodolf Block in 1872. The Rodolf Block is historically significant for La Crosse because of its long-time association with numerous fraternal and social organizations in the city during the historic period of social and economic growth in the late 19th century.

- special thanks to Eric Wheeler and the Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse