Cedarburg, 1946-1964: An Introduction
The transformation of Cedarburg from a small country town into a growing suburban community is the central theme of this fascinating collection of 174 images created by local photographer Harold C. Dobberpuhl between the late 1940s and the mid-1960s

Dobberpuhl became a free lance photographer while still a student at Cedarburg High School and pursued this calling until he was elected Ozaukee County Clerk in 1964. He used either a Brownie Reflex, Roloflex, 2.25 x 3.25 Graphic or 4 x 5 Graphic camera to take most of his photographs. Some of the images were made while Dobberpuhl worked for the Ozaukee Press, while others were taken on behalf of the Cedarburg News. The Dobberpuhl Collection, generously donated to the Cedarburg Cultural Center by its creator, provides and excellent complement to the Center’s Edward A Rappold Collection, which consists of 1,500 images of Cedarburg in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Dobberpuhl’s early photographs present an overview of Cedarburg as a quiet community of 2,245 people, nestled along the banks of Cedar Creek as it had been for over 100 years. With their special attention to the community’s historic architecture, the photographs offer a sense of what walking down Washington Avenue in the 1950s would have been like. From their locations in landmark buildings along Cedarburg’s main street, small, family-owned shops like Jochem’s Grocery Store, Lehmann Bros. Hardware Store, Hickman’s Variety Store and Guse’s Drug Store met the needs of area residents. Curbside gas pumps in the front of the Tri-Par service station and the Nash dealership dispensed fuel for motorists. The Turner Hall served as the community’s cultural and entertainment center, and Firemen’s Park was the site of Cedarburg High School football games, the annual music festival, and motorcycle and stock car races.

Harold Dobberpuhl’s photographs also capture the people of the community and their social life. Portraits present the notables of the period, including the mayor, the fire chief, the newspaper publisher, the doctor and the dentist. Other Dobberpuhl photographs people the streets of Cedarburg with mid-century residents, fill its shops and stores with employees and customers, and gather together its citizenry for celebrations ranging from the county fair to skating parties on the community ice rink. The images also capture the exuberance of Cedarburg’s high school athletic teams, the excitement of parades which marked most holiday celebrations, and the back-breaking exercise required to clean up after the winter’s worst snowfalls.

Later photographs in the Dobberpuhl collection reflect growth and change in the Cedarburg community as it occurred over a period of eighteen years. Landmarks like Turner Hall and Bohrtz’s Blacksmith Shop were torn down. The Hacker Building On Hanover Street and the new Cedarburg High School on Evergreen Boulevard replaced the aging Washington and Lincoln buildings as the community’s educational facilities. A swimming pool constructed in 1959 near Firemen’s Park took the place of the swimming hole just above the Woolen Mill dam. And Paulus’ Super Market and the Super Valu on the corner of Keup and Columbia Roads competed with the smaller stores for the grocery business of area residents.

In the thirty-one years that have passed since Harold Dobberpuhl took the last of the photographs included in this collection, Cedarburg has grown into a community of over 10,000 people, many of whom commute regularly to Milwaukee for work and other activities. During this same period, Cedarburg has also become one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions, noted for its country charm and distinctive stone architecture. While some of the buildings in Dobberpuhl’s photographs have disappeared, the majority continue to fulfill functions not unlike those portrayed around mid-century. Some still look much the same; others actually look older, having been restored to their original appearances through concerted historic preservation efforts.

Harold Dobberpuhl’s photographs clearly suggest that Cedarburg’s carefully preserved structures have provided an island of stability for the community throughout nearly fifty years of growth and change. Hopefully, their continued maintenance and use will provide safe harbor for Cedarburg as future waves of change roll in upon the community.

Robert T. Teske, Director
Cedarburg Cultural Center