Carpenter Lumber Going Down

     The building came down on Thursday, October 16th, 2008, eight days after the first wrecking crew gutted the inside.  Downtown traffic was normal most of the day with people going in and out of the Post Office, the Floral Shop, the Meat Market, and Floyd’s.  Several people stopped for a time to witness the demise of the C.H. Carpenter Lumber Building.  Its prominent location in downtown Victoria meant there were lots of other onlookers as vehicles on busy Highway 5 stopped at the lighted intersection at that corner.  It was all sort of exciting.   Large pieces of equipment had begun ripping into the building from behind, so at the end of the long afternoon, all that was left to demolish was the streetside facade.  Other equipment on this site was scraping and grading behind C.H. in the location of the four single family homes that once lined Quamoclit Street.  A grocery store and parking lot are now under construction!



The big empty space will become a parking lot for the Fresh Seasons Market and Drug Store.  The actual Fresh Seasons store will be constructed next to the parking lot where those four homes used to be.  Plans are for the store to open in early spring 2009. 


It was on Wednesday morning, October 8th, 2008 -- one hundred years after it began -- that the inside of the lumber business in downtown Victoria met the wrecking crew.

When the Gazette office was located (for a short time) across the street in the old bank building, Rod let me use the bathroom at the lumber store.  Morris helped me lift mail bags from my truck every month.  Reno was also one of the nicest guys and so was Darrel Kutzke.  Rod let me use their copy machine and then their fax machine in my early days of doing the Gazette. 

Then big time builders started developing land and building homes in Victoria and they didn’t get their lumber at C.H. Carpenter.  It also became more and more difficult to be progressive and successful with a lumber store in a confined downtown business district.  People are clamoring for the grocery store that will soon replace it.  A fall and a rise usually go together.

In the heyday of small town builders, there was probably no other community around  that had more contractors and carpenters than Victoria, Minnesota.  I’m talking about a heyday that lasted a full century.  Victoria Lumber began in 1908 (possibly 1910) and E.B. Plocher was the first employee, the first manager. 

Practically every old Victoria name included a family member who could build a house or a barn or paint or plumb things:  Diethelm and Schmieg, Schrempp and Schmidt, Hartman and Miller, Vogel and Michel, Kerber and Carroll, Geske and Leuthner.  Many, many carpenters also came from outside Victoria to do business here.


th Victoria Lumber.  The store expanded in 1980 to accommodate more plumbing and electrical supplies, a fuller line of hardware, tools, and some lawn and garden supplies.


The End

Love, Sue




I walked through the familiar spaces and felt a tug at my heart.  All the lumber for our new home came from this place.  Every time I painted a room in my house, I bought cans of paint here and watched the big wobbly machine shake the living daylights out of them to stir it up.  I chose stain, varnish, stripper, sandpaper and brushes here when I refinished my antique furniture.

In the early days Victoria Lumber also sold coal, cement blocks, brick, clay drain pipe, chimney flues.  I interviewed Ed and Ruth Plocher and featured them and the store in the September 1980 issue of the Victoria Gazette.  It was entitled, “Just Lumbering Along.”  Wilfred Plocher followed in his father’s footsteps as longtime manager of the Victoria Lumber Company.  Rod Groff of Waconia became the next manager, followed by Rod’s son in law Mark Bartels.

Grading and excavating for the grocery store continues on the site at this very moment and will continue through the winter months.  They want to get the parking lot done first so there’s a good surface from which to work.

As Wilfred Plocher said to me, “Guess that’s progress.”  Wilfy’s dad was the first employee and manager at the lumber store and he spent time at the lumber store until practically the day he died of old age.  Wilfy was the second store manager.

Ray and Frannie Schmieg, each with a cane in hand, strolled up from their home on Victoria Circle and stood quietly together on the corner across Highway 5 and watched the lumber building come down.  Ray was a carpenter and customer of the place all his working years.  “Guess that’s progress,” they said.


Dave Linderman.


Morris Bartels.

Bookkeeper Ramona Groff.



Darrel Kutzke.

Former Manager

Rodd Groff.

Former Manager

Wilfy Plocher

and his wife Inez who worked as a bookkeeper at the lumber store.

This group photo of employees was taken in November of 1994, for the Christmas issue of the Gazette that year.