William Schornstein was a prominent member of the local German American community. The first mention in the historic record said that listed him as a bartender at the Tivoli, a downtown tavern. By the 1880’s he had a combination saloon and grocery made of brick. Unfortunately in 1884 a fire destroyed that building as well as a nearby house.
The Schornsteins then decided to rebuild in grander fashion and he hired prominent German-American architect Augustus Gauger to design the structure at 707 Wilson. The result was one of the few French Second Empire style business buildings in the city. It was a combination grocery and saloon, that included family living quarters. The establishment was especially popular among the area’s German-Americans and there was a large hall on the third floor for meetings and special events.
William Schornstein and his wife Wilhelmina resided at this address starting in1885. He operated his grocery and community gathering place until 1920, the year of his death at the age of seventy-two. The building continued to be used and, for instance, the 1937 city directory listed it as a grocery and meat market.
Architect Augustus Gauger and his family left Germany for the United States in the 1860’s. He moved to St. Paul in 1875, was employed in one of the city's most successful architectural firms. He set up his own practice in 1878 and remained active until the late 1920s. In addition to his private practice, Gauger served as architect to the State Board of Education and was a St. Paul city building inspector. His firm was responsible for buildings throughout the country, including courthouses in fourteen states, school, commercial and institutional structures and many residences. The Schornstein Grocery and Saloon was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.