Lens on History: Living free from care
Ben Clausen came to America from Germany in 1872. After arriving in Rochester, Ben was soon engaged in the hardware business.
In the spring of 1896, he saw an opportunity in a building at the corner of West College and South Main Street. Known as the Ozark Flats, the building from the 1860s had fallen into such a terrible state of disrepair that only part of it was inhabitable. The rest of the building was being used for grain storage.
Under Clausen’s guidance, the building’s transformation was remarkable. Inside, eight two-bedroom flats were constructed, complete with parlors and kitchens. Water closets were on each floor. Gas was furnished for cooking and lights. Outside, a brick veneer was added for a modern look.
Clausen named his new enterprise Sans Souci Flats which when translated into English meant free from care, a decided difference from the building’s former condition.