160 Year Old Law Office Gets Freshened Up
The late start to winter benefited the Garnavillo Historical Society’s tuckpointing project at the Clefisch Law Office, 108 S. Main Street, Garnavillo. Kuempel Masonry, Guttenberg was contracted for the project and was nearly done before cold temperatures set in necessitating a plastic enclosure for working.
J.O. Crosby and Alonzo Brown started building their ground level law office in the fall of 1860 and finished in 1861 based on references in the Clayton County Journal and mention in J.O. Crosby’s diaries. (Previously their office was above the C.W. Hagensick store on Main Street.) The Clayton County Journal indicates a “mister Smart” was the builder for the new office, likely H. G. Smart who advertised as a bricklayer at the time. Although an exact date for occupying the new brick office can’t be found, ads citing their new location started to run in the Journal August 22, 1861. Brown was only with Crosby to 1866-67. Crosby continued in his office until his retirement in 1902 and was said to visit it often after his retirement.
Crosby died in 1921 and the building changed hands numerous times after that. In 1922 it was sold to Alvin Kregel for $1,100. In 1938 it was sold to Henry Mensing Jr and in 1947 to the City of Garnavillo. From 1953-1959 the building was used as the Public Library. In 1959 it was sold to Hans Peterson. In 1971, the granddaughter of James O Crosby, Caroline Crosby, purchased the building. She was quoted saying “Didn’t want anything to happen to it. Feel about it like my grandfather felt about the “church.” (The “church” referred to is the building now housing the Garnavillo Museum.) Under Caroline Crosby’s ownership, renters included the Grimm Barber Shop in 1972, Patty Szemkus’ Golden Touch Salon from 1973-1975, and since 1975 the Clefisch Law Firm. In 1999 Caroline Crosby deeded the building to the Garnavillo Historical Society.