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 Ferdinand G. Speth

Ferdinand G. Speth

Death 31 Jan 1961 (aged 66–67)
Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA
Burial Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA
Plot Section 1, Block 6
Memorial ID 102010006 · View Source
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Capital Times, February 15, 1974
"Oldest Family Business To Close Doors Soon

When Charles J. Speth locks the doors of the Clothes Post, 222 State St., for the last time some day soon, it will mark the end of the city's oldest continuous one-family-operated retail business.

The name of Speth has been identified with a men's clothing shop here for more than 80 years.

Through three generations of Speths, the business has kept pace with the revolution in men's styles - from the peg top narrow blue serge pants, the gray flannel suiting, the straw hat era, to the casual threads of today.

The store was the first in the Midwest to specialize in casual attire when Ferd Speth, son of the founder, switched from the business suit to the less formal style in clothes in 1955.

In 1961, Charles J. Speth, Ferd's son and present proprietor, adopted the name of the Clothes Post and redesigned the show window entry and interior of the shop

He had the interior of the shop redesigned with an Old English motif, somewhat characteristic of the Elizabethan era. He added a variety of antiques, using them to display the sweaters, jeans, jackets, and other items of men's wear.

On display were a spinning wheel, Boston rocker, milking stool, a fireplace completely with bellows and chestnut roasters, a high wheeled bike, old English stocks used to hold prisoners, and round oak tables.

It was a recognition of the revolution that was taking over the shops on State Street, a move from dullness to fascinating.

The store was found by Charles J. Speth, born in 1855 in Bavaria, Germany, who came here at the age of 17. He settled in the Town of Roxbury, where he began to learn the tailor's trade.

In 1973 [sic] he came to Madison, then a city of 10,000, to obtain a job as tailor with pioneer clothier, Samuel Klauber. Later he was with the firm of Olson and Winden.

He opened his own tailor shop on King Street in 1886. In 1893, Speth moved to 228 State Street to open a clothing store.

He next moved to a two-story wood-frame building at 222 State St. and operated the business until his death in 1907. His widow, the former Mary Heim, sister of Mayor John B. Heim, continued the business and was joined by sons William, Carl, and Ferdinand.

In 1913, the Speth brothers decided to erect a new store and had the old wooden building razed. A new basement was excavated, two feet deeper than the old.

Next door was the William Andrews Saloon, at 220 State St. A spring rain washed the soil from beneath the footings of the saloon building. At 11p.m. the patrons in the saloon heard the walls creaking and watched the west wall begin to crumble. They ran out the front door, while Andrews hurriedly emptied the till and then raced for the door. The back bar tilted and crashed down moments later as Andrews escaped safely.

Mrs. Anna Weber, owner of the buildings housing the saloon, and her family raced out of their second floor flat before the building collapsed. The wall of the Capital City Greenhouse, 226 State St., sagged but did not collapse.

The new Speth story was completed in 1914 and a grand opening was held on Mar. 14. The Quan-Sherer five-piece band was there to entertain customers and visitors and 2,000 carnations were given away.

Speth's was known for its amateur baseball and basketball teams. A spot check in 1924 reveals that the Speth team won the Industrial League basketball championship, defeating the French Ray-O-Lites (now Ray-O-Vac Co.) 19 to 12.

'The roughness displayed made football look tame in comparison,' wrote a newspaperman. 'Both teams were out to fight their way to the championship and the succeeded in doing the fighting at all events.'

For many years the Speth city league baseball teams were among the best with players on the roster carrying names like Hess, Ogilve, Miller, Nolford, Berigan, Wiedenbeck, and Kleinheinz.

Recently, huge signs were placed in the window announcing that Speth's, rather the Clothes Post, was having a 'Going Out of Business' sale.

With the closing of the story, Madison will lose a longtime State Street business and will see once again a sign of the revolution that has changed the character of the main drag between the Capitol and Bascom Hall.

Charles J. Speth, the last of those to operate the business, who was laid up a couple years ago with illness, has not yet decided what he will do next."

Family Members





  • Created by: Jade
  • Added: 10 Dec 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 102010006
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ferdinand G. Speth (1894–31 Jan 1961), Find A Grave Memorial no. 102010006, citing Resurrection Cemetery, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Jade (contributor 46951936) .