Cushing Land Agency In St. Croix Falls

This cute building was built in 1882 and was home to the Cushing Land Agency in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. The Cushing Land Agency was the first major real estate company in Polk County. Business owner Caleb Cushing would end up acquiring more than 45,000 acres of land in Polk County, including most of the land within St. Croix Falls, by 1875.

The Cushing Land Agency

When the building was constructed, the business’s namesake, Caleb Cushing, had been dead for three years. He’d spent the last years of his life buying up land throughout Polk County. Caleb became very wealthy after sitting on his holdings until the wave of Swedish and Danish immigrants came looking for land to start a new life in the state. After his death, Caleb’s land agent and friend Joseph Baker took over the business. 

Joseph formally incorporated the Cushing Land Agency in 1901 with himself as president. He named his oldest son vice president (in name only, he was actually a writer), and his younger son, Harry, as the secretary and treasurer. They changed the business’s name to Baker Land and Title Company in 1911. 

A New Headquarters

After a fire destroyed the Cushing House Hotel where the original land agency’s offices were located, Joseph decided to build a new headquarters just a few blocks away. The Cushing Land Agency owned most of the land in town, so he’d had his pick of lots. It was built in the pretty Queen Anne-Eastlake style, and the interior was accented with Eastlake-style decor. The building initially only measured 16-by-32-feet, but an addition was made to the rear of the building in 1887. 

The setup of the office was pretty simple. A wide, open office in the front of the building was where all the general real estate business took place. Two doors were located at the back of the room, one led to Baker’s private office and the other to a hallway to the rear of the building. After the addition was built, that door led to the vault and additional office space. 

The business grew to include nine banks, abstracting and title services, and insurance sales. After Joseph’s death, Harry took over the company and operated it until his death in 1966 at the age of 92. The business was sold to a party outside of the family. Still, it continued to operate under the Baker name until 1986.

A New Life For The Building

In 1999, the building was sold to the St. Croix Falls Historical Society. They restored the building in 2002 to covert the space into museum space, a reading room, and office space for the historical society and chamber of commerce. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. 

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