Historic Properties – “Shawano has History”

The Upham & Russell Building


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A Brief History

The Upham & Russell Building
153 S. Main Street
Shawano, WI

In 1858 when Charles Upham was just 21 years of age, he came to Shawano and opened a 16′ X 18′ store where the Farmers Brewery now stands. The old growth forests were untouched except for the little settlement of Shawano having less than 100 inhabitants.

There was only an Indian trail from New London to Shawano. The nearest railroad was at Fond du Lac. Charles Upham walked the 32 miles from New London while the provisions and dry goods for hist store were poled on the river to Shawano by Indians. He chose Shawano for his business because of its strategic position on the Wolf River – it was a natural point for supplying loggers operating north of Shawano and driving logs on the Wolf to Oshkosh.

When this first store became too small, he moved first to what was later called the Dave Black home on the NW corner of Main and Hill Streets. Upham then moved to the NW corner of Main and Division Streets. In 1870 a partnership of Upham and Russell was formed, the latter being Upham’s brother-in-law. In 1884 the partnership merged into a corporation with the addition of George Gibbs and R.W. Jackson.

At Upham’s 50th anniversary in business, the 288 square feet of floor space of the first store became 52,064 square feet including the general store, meat market, hay barn, grain and potato elevator, coal shafts, the men’s clothing store called The Hub and the hardware store at the corner of Main and Green Bay streets, later known as the Farmer’s Hardware and in 1973 as the Sperberg Brothers Standard Service station. C.M. Upham’s business was continued by his son, Robert Upham.
The second Upham-Russell building on the NW corner of Main and Division still stands today.

Charles Upham’s involvement in the community:

  • 1861 Postmaster of Shawano County.
  • 1862 Purchased interest in the Shawano County Journal from Masonic Brother Myron McCord and became its editor.
  • 1865 Purchased a hotel at the northeast corner of Main and Green Bay Street.
  • 1868 Founder of Shawano Masonic Lodge #170.
  • 1875 Elected Shawano’s second mayor (Shawano’s first Mayor was his Brother D.H. Pulcifer).
  • 1876 Temperance Law fights in the city council became so heated three aldermen and Mayor Upham resigned.
  • 1881 Organizer of Shawano Water and Power and River Improvement Company. The company built a dam across the Wolf for waterpower purposes.
  • 1893 Became the owner of water powered gristmill where the Shawano Paper Mill now stands.
  • 1900 Reorganized Shawano County Bank as Shawano first national bank chartered under the laws of the United States. He was president of it and it’s successor First National Bank for twenty years.


Businesses in the Upham & Russell Building include:

  • Upham and Russell
  • Montgomery-Ward
  • Chiropractic and Wellness

CHARLES M. UPHAM – Since the pioneer days of Wisconsin, the Upham family has furnished some of the most notable figures in public and commercial affairs of the state. To those familiar with political history, perhaps the name which would first come to mind would be that of former Governor William H. Upham, soldier, manufacturer, and banker at Marshfield, since 1878, and Governor of Wisconsin from 1895 to 1897. Of a second generation of the same family, is Frederick William Upham, one of the foremost business men of Chicago, and a national political leader. Concerning these men and other representatives of the family, appropriate mention is made on other pages of this work. For the present consideration is introdnced the remarkable career of Charles M. Upham, who for fifty-five years has been engaged in business at Shawano, in Shawano county.

Charles M. Upham grew up to manhood in southern Wisconsin, and his first business experience was at Weyauwega, in Waupaca county, where his brother Nathan had opened a store. A few years later, they determined to extend their business to Shawano, and it was for the purpose of opening up the establishment that Charles M. Upham made the trip across country, previously described in 1872.  Mr. Upham married Julia Parsons, of Racine. Their two children are: Robert A., and Sarah B. Mr. Upham has been affiliated with the Masonic order for a great many years and though he keeps up his dues, seldom visits the lodge rooms any more. For a number of years, he had extensive building holdings in Marshfield, the home of his brother, Governor Upham, but sold-out his property there a few years ago, and practically all his interests are concentrated in Shawano, and vicinity.

SOURCE (Google Books): “Wisconsin: Its Story and Biography, 1848-1913” Volume 5, pages 1163-1166, by Ellis Baker Usher.