801 Oak

Stories and Structures: Downtown Winnetka and Beyond

801 Oak

Winnetka, Illinois 60093, United States

Created By: Winnetka Historical Society


While the building at 801 Oak has been home to Bratschi Plumbing for about 90 years, it was actually built 20 years before the business took it over.

This tall, slim building was first built c. 1907 by John T. Brady, a young yet experienced blacksmith originally from Evanston. He operated his blacksmith and horseshoe shop on the bottom floor, and he and his wife Mary lived in the two-bedroom apartment above the shop with their 4 children.

Around the same time, just a few blocks north, William P. Happ purchased a blacksmith shop at the corner of Chestnut and Spruce. William Happ was the grandson of Winnetka’s first blacksmith John Happ, who opened a shop at Maple and Elm in 1843. In the 1920s, Happ and Brady merged their two businesses at this location at 801 Oak, and renamed it the Brady and Happ Practical Horseshoers.

The blacksmithing shop stayed in business until the 1930s, when John Brady passed away. In 1939, Mary Brady, John Brady’s widow, rented the building to Walter Bratschi, a local Winnetkan and experienced plumber. In 1947, Bratschi purchased the building.

While it has hada few changes to accommodate the plumbing business, some of the original features from the blacksmithing shop still remain, including the stable flooring and hooks used to tie up horses that were being fitted for horseshoes. Elements of the original fireplace remain as well.

In 1952, the showroom in front of the original building was added, and in 1982, the addition at 803 Oak was built.

Thanks to the Bratschi family, the historic building at 801 Oak has not only been transformed but well preserved and cared for for over 115 years.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Stories and Structures: Downtown Winnetka and Beyond


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