Christen Thiesen

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Christen Ustrup Thiesen
Born November 24, 1856
Aarhus, Denmark
Died 1934
Occupation Businessman
Spouse Emilie Lemkuhl (née Lupkes)
Children Rudolph John ("Jack") (1887–1963), Petrea Elizabeth (1890–1965), John Henry (1892–1989), Olga Marie (1897–1972), Bernhardine ("Dina") (1882–1964)

Christen Ustrup Thiesen (first name sometimes given as Christian) was a Pensacolian businessman best remembered for his ownership of the Thiesen Building.

Christen Thiesen ended up in Pensacola thanks to a quirk of fate. Born in Denmark, Thiesen was the navigator of a Danish sailing ship. He was stranded in Pensacola during the Pensacola yellow fever epidemic of 1882 when his ship left without him. According to a story passed down in the Thiesen family from generation to generation, Thiesen was the first sailor off the ship when it docked in Pensacola. He was informed of the epidemic, he told the crew, and they refused to let him back on board. At that time it was not generally known that yellow fever is not transmitted by person-to-person contact, but by mosquitoes.

Thiesen, who contracted yellow fever but recovered, found a job tending bar in a saloon. The saloon owner died in the epidemic. In 1884, Thiesen married the saloon owner's widow, Emilie Lemkuhl (or possibly Lehnkuhl), and thus became the owner of the saloon, located at the southwest corner of Intendencia and Baylen Streets.[1].

Christen and Emilie had four children who lived to adulthood; Thiesen also adopted his stepdaughter Dina. Emilie died in January, 1900 due to complications of childbirth. In April, 1901, Thiesen married Effie Lee Mitchell. Thiesen was granted U.S. citizenship in 1902.

He built the Thiesen Building on the northeast corner of Palafox and Romana Streets in 1901. He was reportedly warned that his venture would fail and the building would be lost to receivership. Thiesen responded by vowing to fly the Danish flag from the building each April 1st as a symbol of his continued ownership. It is said that Thiesen raised the Danish flag every April 1st until his death.

Thiesen's wife Effie divorced him in 1927. Thiesen died in 1934, and is buried in St. Michael's Cemetery.[2]


  1. Webb's 1885/1886 Business Directory
  2. Sutton, Leora "Christian [sic] Ustrup Thiesen",University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library, Special Collections (unpublished manuscript)