Wisconsin’s Culture --- Neat Buildings and Homes

As we drive around the state, we wander into some great reminders of the past, buildings and homes with character, or, we just plain like them a lot. Hope you enjoy!

I headed south on Hwy 35, the Great River Road, a few miles out of the town of Maiden Rock to take a look at the Maiden Rick bluff. This marvelous home was on my left. I had to photograph it, so beautiful.

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This home is located in Nericke, Pierce County, off CH SS on Nerike Road which turns into 40th Ave. It is actually a community in the town of Maiden Rock. From where I stood, this home was stunning.


As I drive through the rural sections of Wisconsin, I see quite a few old school houses and churches converted into home. I found this one on CH CC north of Pepin City.

I visited the architectural gem of a city, Mineral Point, in the hills of southwest Wisconsin. While in town, I noticed three magnificent homes. There were, no doubt, many more.





We were on our way to stay at the Heidel House in Green Lake. I spotted three magnificent homes, I believe, on Illinois Ave close to the Heidel House. I did not take notes, so I hope I am correct about the street. I know I am correct about the beauty of these homes. They were situated on the lake.






A wonderful old home of limestone blocks at 5601 Hwy 83 next to Michigan State Wildlife area, Racine County.


Oconto City Hall. This building, at least from the outside, is a real beauty.


We were fooling around in the area of Sister Bay in Door County, on Woodcrest Road, and came across this post unusual and beautiful home. It was the home of architect, Carl W. Carlson. He designed and built it with the help of his sons, workers from his company and friends. He passed away in October 2014.


This was an adjacent structure one would think was a garage, but it is so large it might well be that and something else, or just something else. As I was on private property I dared not peek in to look.


The Rising Star Mill in Nelsonville, Portage County is the one of the oldest mills in this part of the state and the last of its kind in this county, built in 1855. The Portage County Historical Society now owns it and occasionally hosts events there. It is right next to the Tomorrow River, a beautiful sight.


City Hall, New London. New London actually straddles Waupaca and Outagamie counties, but the city hall is located in Waupaca County


This beauty sat in a marvelous setting off Hwy 78 near Merrimac, Sauk County.


This home is at the end of Teal Lake, off Bear Trail Rd. in northeastern Lincoln County, in an area referred to as Harrison. I stood outside staring at it, nearly ready to cry because I wanted to buy it, but I just do not have the money right now. A magnificent place overlooking the lake.


I thought this to be a terrific old building in Sheboygan, Sheboygan County. It is known as the Henry and Charles Imig Block, restored with the help of the Community Development Block grant and input from the owners. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The Wisconsin Historical Society writes, “The project architects, Linde Jensen Marcheske Architects of Sheboygan, designed new storefronts … They also re-created an elaborate cornice. A historic photograph of the building was used as the source for the cornice design, including the realistic eagle cresting. The eagle, with its wings spread wide, now looks down on passersby just as it did when the building was completed in 1882.”


This was one of my favorite shots, right in the center of Elkhart Lake, Sheboygan County. The red building hosts “Off the Rail,” serving breakfast and lunch, baked goods and specialty coffees.


An interesting architectural style on Broadway in De Pere, Brown County.


Spotted this beauty on my way out of Bailey’s Harbor in Door County, heading north. Cool!


I wished I wold have stopped and studied this longer. I believe this is a barn-home with a couple cabins around it. I think the downstairs is forearming implements, while the upstairs is for living quarters. Note the small cabin to the left. I want to show you another view largely of the area to the right of this complex.


Here you see another small cabin to the right, and a small vineyard. Fabulous. I found this in Brown County on Fair Road which ran along a ridge. Brown County is in the Eastern Ridges and Lowlands Geographic Province of the state. Fair Road is along the base of a ridge just to the east of Hwy 32/57. If you were to look from here to the west, you would see land as flat as a pancake. There were quite a few homes lining the ridge. What a wonderful location for them.


This marvelous “home” is in Genesee Depot, Waukesha County, on Hwy 83. At the moment, however, she is Pal’s Ice Cream Shoppe and Grille, but is for sale (as of April 18, 2012 when this shot was taken). It’s a beauty.


This is a most interesting home we spotted in Calumet County on Schmidt Road off of Hwy 32/57. There’s something about this home and its surrounding landscape that are an eye-catcher.


I’d buy this home in a heartbeat. But she’s not for sale, and one can understand why. Who would want to leave this. She is at 5920 Waterford, Town of Hartford, in Washington County. Actually, we spotted the barn scene I am about to show you first, and then saw that the house goes with it. Fabulous.




This is the Clark Building, built in 1886. Mrs. Borgwardt’s class, 3B Galesville History Project, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District, wrote the following about this building:

“The Clark Building was built in 1886. It has red bricks, a flat roof, and grouped windows, with semicircular arches. The Clark Building also has a corner entrance. This building was built originally as the Bank of Galesville by Isaac Clark. The bank was there until the 1960s when it moved to where it is now. Today the building is occupied by Ristow Insurance and Jackie-Os.”


Spotted this wonderful home from Berlin Road, just north of Berlin center, Marathon County. Not only is the home beautiful, its surroundings are magnificent.


Tuft’s Mansion is a B&B in Neillsville, Clark County. The upstairs has four renovated suites with private baths. It is available for weddings, anniversaries, class reunions and the like.


The old high school overlooking Black River Falls, Jackson County. It has been converted into apartments, and has maintained its beauty.


This is the home of Steele Street Floral in Algoma, Kewaunee County, on Lake Michigan. I did not get to stay here long, but this town is a well kept secret in my book, worth visiting. Splendid. They have worked hard to preserve their historic down center.


I suppose in the scheme of things, you might remark, “Why’s he put this home in this section?” In part, I guess it’s my northeastern blood. She struck as me as looking very New England, a home on Lake Michigan, wonderful grounds, neat, with a spectacular view of the lake. I love it. I was on CH U and just left Door County and pulled into Kewaunee County when I spotted her. I’d live in this at the drop of a hat.


Wisconsin House, Stage Coach Inn, Hazel Green, Grant County. By 1824 the lead miners had moved north from Galena digging into what would become Wisconsin. Their first settlement was Hardscrabble, soon renamed Hazel Green. In 1846 lead mining was booming. Hazel Green was a bustling town on the stage coach trail from Milwaukee. The Wisconsin House was the second inn to be built.


Water Street Place, pub and eatery, Schullsburg, WI, Lafayette County, another magnificent preserved and restored town. This is a historic in, Italianate architecture, built in 1883. Schullsburg is Wisconsin’s third oldest city, settled by the French.


I get hungry and thirsty just looking at the pub’s dining room.



Two homes in Berlin, Green Lake County, both Italiante Architecture of the 19th century. Berlin is filled with marvelous homes like this and other historically important designs, a delightful place to visit, park your car, and just walk around.


This home is located on Hwy 75 just as she heads south from Hwy 29, Clark County. The owners operate the Potting Shed Greenhouse. What a marvelous setting and wonderfully built home. I am partial to this shot, but I did take one of the front.


It's a shame there was no sun. I bet under those trees and a full sun, this would all be too spectacular for me to describe.


The Heritage House in Minocqua was built in 1898 as the first Catholic parsonage. It was occupied by the St. Augustine Hospital from 1901-1916. It is now the home for a bunch of legal eagles.


This home used to be a school, called Shadow Oaks, Red Springs, Shawano County. I am told it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The first floor has a ceiling about 14 ft. high. One bedroom, with a working bell in the bell tower. On CH G near Hwy 47.


I love the simplicity and lines of the architecture, the limestone used, the magnificent setting against the Wolf River to the rear, and the way the sunlight reflected off everything. It's in the city of Shawano at 619 Danks St. facing the end of S. Weed St.


This home caught my attention while on CH N just east of Maple Rd. in the Town of Birnamwood. It really has the Old World look. Those are not logs for the lower half of the home. They look like hand hewn wood beams, held together by some kind of masonry such as concrete. I was most impressed by that stash of neatly piled fire logs in the rear. It would be interesting to know whether this is the original home, or whether it was built from reclaimed wood from very old structures.


Gresham Depot Museum in Gresham, Shawno County, at Red Lake, a unique Soo-line station in its day. Inside it displays an excellent, unique collection of railroad memorabilia including telegrapher's equipment, pictures and timetables, old fashioned railroad lanterns, freight wagons and a variety of other railway equipment along with local history.


Neshkoro Feed Mill, a most interesting place on the White River in Marquette County, near the North American Hydroelectric Dam. Inside the feed mill is the Coffee Mill Cafe. The whole scene is delightful.


It was January 5, 2009, but this house in the Town of Harrison, Waupaca County, on CH C near Hwy 49, glistened in the sun and was still greeting all with a Merry Christmas.



It was a gray, icy and cold day in January 2009 and I spotted these lovely homes all dressed up for the holidays, both of which improved more morale quite a bit. The first one was on Main Street in Iola, Waupaca County. The second was on West Fulton Street, also in Iola.


Crystal Bell Inn & Spa, River Street (Hwy 32), Wabeno, Forest County. This is a Victorian Mansion which now operates as an Inn & Spa, with eight rooms. It is in a beautiful setting.


Two houses to the south of the Crystal Bell Inn is this equally marvelous home. The outside of the first floor is built from rock, the setting here is fantastic as well, I could live simply on the porch! Look carefully, you'll ee the Stars and Stripes hanging in the proch as well.


City Hall, Columbus, Columbus County, built in 1892. The town's historic buildings were spruced up for the March 2008 filming of Universal's "Public Enemies," starring Johnny Depp, which focused on the government's attempt to catch John Dillinger and his gang in the 1930s.


This is, we believe, an example of Norwegian or Norse Architecture for a home on CH P at Trastad Lane just northeast of Coon Valley. We show this shot to give you a feel for the magnificent surroundings and setting for this home. The next photo is a closeup.




Strawberry Lace Inn, 603. N. Water Street, Sparta, Monroe County is an Italianate Victorian Home, now a bed and breakfast. It was built in 1875 for Major James Davidson, a Civil War veteran with the 5th New York Cavalry who became an important figure in Wisconsin lumbering and merchandising.


"Groceries-Tavern," directly across the street from a large log loading and landing operation in Fifield, Price County. This is a wonderful building selling exactly the right stuff in the right place, on Balsam St. and West Central Ave in Fifield, Wisconsin. The store offers lunch, candy, brewskis and all kinds of things and, of course, proudly boasts a Green Packer emblem in the front window. It reflects this town's proud logging heritage, which in its early days could be boistrous. I love this place, and I love the food and beer combo!


Known as the Old Town Hall Museum in Fifield, Price County, this building now serves as the home of the Price County Historical Society. It once served as a government building, from 1894-1967. This building is on the National Register of Historica Places. The museum has displays of logging artifacts; collections of household, clothing and personal items; railroad memorabilia; a Victorian living room and kitchen; old farm equipment as well as changing exhibits.


This is the old Greenfield School, a one-room school, moved to the site of the Old Town Hall Museum in 1998. It has been restored and serves as a repository for rural school history, school artifacts, research materials and books. It is also the society's office which serves the museum.

Eau Claire City, in the county by the same name, has done some wonderful things to preserve its older architecture. During a January 2008 visit, we happened into the 400 block of Water Street, across the river from University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Given its location, it stands to reason that this block boasts boutiques, pubs, cafes and restauarants. Best of all, they are tucked into the old architecture. Many call this area the Water Street Historic District.


From left to right, an Asian restaurant, the Willow Gift Shopsporting wonderful wares, unique and antique gifts, and florals, and the Goat Coffee House. Note the use of brick along the sidewalk and in the median of Water Street, adding a very nice touch.


A marvelous building, the brick facade is fabulous. Of course, your editor was attracted to the Pioneer Tavern on the left, a most relieved that it has winter hours! Next in line is Eau Claire Bike & Sport, which also carries snowboards, slateboards, skates and fitness stuff, and then to the far right, and the Nucleus Cafe.


It's fun how the buildings painted in different colors. Note the two gargoyles on top the one building, there to scare away evil spirits. To the far left is Avalon Floral boasting fresh flowers and plants. The next two buildings to the right, in green, one with the gargoyles, is Mona Lisa's Restaurant, an upscale restaurant specializing in Italian fare, with large picture windows. The next, we believe, is part of the House of Rock, featuring top rock and blues bands and famous for its Bloody Marys and artwork.


This is Le Chateau Boutin, part of the Old Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, Wisconsin. It overlooks Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay. It is an excellent example of the Queen Anne style, popular around the turn of the century. It has seven restored guestrooms. We'll show two more photos. It's a wonderful place to stay in a wonderful town.






St. Ann's Church, Greenwood, Wisconsin was constructed in 1888 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The church and its cemetery are located just south of Rib Lake, Taylor County, on the corner of Brehem Ave and Wellington Lake Road, in a most picturesque setting. Local volunteers keep working to preserve the building and its contents.


This is the Long Branch Saloon & Eatery in Minong, Washburn County. Its historical name is Fielding & Sons General Store, built in 1917. The Mining Comprehensive Plan lists it as one of nine historic sites. The town says this about its historic sites: "Community cultural resources are a significant element in defining local character." This is a neat place. Oh yes, she's on Fifth Avenue! Bud and Kay Pollock think a lot of it. They're celebrating their 50th Anniversary here on July 8, 2007.

When you visit Marinette, Wisconsin, right on the border with Menominee, Michigan in the northeast, you will come across the beautiful Dunlap Square. It was created in 1992 through historic renovation of the Dunlap Square Building, and two Lauerman Brothers buildings, one a warehouse, the other a department store. We'd like to give you a look at all three. You can read a little more about them at The Walking Tour of downtown Marinette.


The Dunlap Square Building was built in 1902. The architectural style is known as Queen Anne. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


It has beautiful windows on the first floor, along the sidewalk on Hall Street. Here is a look at two. These are "fabulous stained-glass windows that go back to the building's original use as a historic turn-of-the-century saloon with spectacular decor."


Directly across the street from the Dunlap Square Building is the former Lauerman Brothers Co. Wholesale House. It is connected to the former Lauerman Brothers Department Store, to its left in this photo. The Dunlap square Building is to the right, across the street.


This is the former Lauerman's Department Store, which we believe common nomenclature includes as both the store and the Wholesale House. We understand it was once known as "The Largest Small City Store in America." It was constructed in 1904. Both Lauerman buildings are included in the National Register of Historical Places. They are of the Italianate, Classic Revival architectural style. The large upper-story windows were an innovation of the "Chicago School of forward-looking architecture."

All these buildings are now a mix of apartments, fine shops, coffee houses and other retail endeavors. This is a fun place to visit, the heart of Marinette.


A wonderful old brick home in a fabulous setting in the Town of Maple Valley, Oconto County, not far from Suring on County M. We've got a soft spot in our hearts for this kind of reddish brick, and such a great porch, especially when adorned by the colors of patriotism. This the home of Leo and Dolores Thielke. Leo celebrated his 80th birthday on July 2, 2008


The Washburn Historical Museum and Cultural Center, Bayfield County, is known to many as the Old Bank Building, built in 1890. It is a beautiful brownstone structure and is on the state and National Register of Historic Places. A gift shop and changing arts exhibits are on the first floor, the historical society museum on the second.


We lost our notes describing the exact location of this beauty. It's in the town of Westboro, on Route 13 south of Ogema in Price County, at N7784. It was snowing a bit and we spotted this home on the left side of the road not far south of Ogema. What a terrific home in a terrific setting.


There is a very small community known as Hollister, Wisconsin, in Langlade County, about a mile north of Langlade Town (population 487) and the intersection of Hwys 64 and 55. This building once was the Hollister School, but is now a family's home. It's marvelous. We have noticed several old schools now being used as homes throughout the state. It's better than letting these terrific buildings go away.


Here is some grand old fun, Gina Rae's "Pie's are Square" restaurant on Main Street in Wilton, Monroe County. Gina says customers have given her the title, "Goddess of Pies." There's a great story about this restaurant at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. We, of course, love this style of building and absolutely love the ad on the side for Gold Medal Flour. Great story here, too. Way in the lower left of this side of the building is painted the name, "Thomas Cusack & Co. Chicago." There is case law from 1916-1917 regarding Thomas Cusack Co. v. City of Chicago, having to do with outdoor advertising. Cusack was a company engaged in outdoor advertising. The city apparently tried to enforce an ordinance against outdoor billboards and the company sued. The company lost! Well, quite clearly it's okay in Wilton, and we agree.


Wisconsin has a rich history of barn architecture and some terrific stories to go along with it. The website, Wisconsin Barns: Stories in Wood & Stone, gives you some great insights to the history and the nostalgia associated with the old barns in the state. We found this one in the Town of Blenker on CH F near the junction with Hwy 10. She's a beauty. She looks like a Fieldstone barn topped off with wood. We'd like to give you a closer look at her fieldstone workmanship.




The Marchetti (Louis) House, 111 Grant St., Wausau, Marathon County. Also known as the Judge Marchetti House. It is a "Second Empire" archtectural style, built around 1878. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is presently a classic antiques, treasures and flowers retail store. Judge Marchetti came to Wausau from Vienna, Austria in 1867. He worked as a river pilot and in sawmills, became a school teacher, bookkeeper, city street commissioner, judge, and lawyer. He served as Wausau’s mayor from 1901-1904 and published the first comprehensive history of the county in 1913. Marchetti was very patriotic and loved displays of loyalty to the country. There has been talk of tearing this building down, or moving it; the same for the Church of the Resurrection across the street, and its old school behind it --- don't let that happen.


The Oneida County Courthouse, Rhinelander. This is the second courthouse structure, the first having been completed in 1887. This present courthouse was completed in 1911, and is on the same site as the first. The old court house was moved one block and was used as the County Training School for teachers. The dome of this building is most intriguing. This next photo shows you a zoom view of it.


It is a wonderful dome. We regret not having gone inside the building to view it from there. We've not been able to find anything written about this dome. From the outside, the dome appears built with stained glass to create a vision of the county's rural landscapes. We'll give you an even closer view.


Next time we will be sure to go inside and get some details about this dome. In the interim, we would be grateful to hear from knowledgeable readers.


"The greatest place in town" so the sign says on the left corner of 1806 Main Street in Merrill, Lincoln County. The paint job on this home is vibrant and the colors waving in the wind out front are wonderful. There's no missing this home! It's a beauty. (The last time I drove through Merrill, this home had suffered greatly from a fire.)


A wonderful, stately home turned into offices by Menzner Lumber & Supply Co. on Main Street in Marathon City, Marathon County. We think it to be Colonial Revival Architecture, prominent throughout the US 1876-1955. It's gratifying to see companies save these kinds of places. It probably costs them some profit, but it most certainly preserves our culture.


Our compliments to IGA Stores. Here in Athens, Marathon County, the company used an existing old building that fit in perfectly with the architecture of the downtown for their store. Even the sign on the side of the brick building connotes character.


Langlade County's Courthouse, Antigo, Wisconsin, is on the National Register of Historical Places. It was built in the early 1900s and accepted in 1905. It is Classical Revival architecture, period of signficicance 1900-1924. Gregory Stanford of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has described it as a "stately, rust-colored" building.


The Riviera Building in Geneva, Wisconsin. There are many historical buildings in this town, but this one dominates Riviera Park and the lakefront in the downtown area. It is in the National Register of Historical Places, of the 19th and 20th century architectural revival style. We have seen one report saying it was built in 1932. We believe that is wrong. We have seen a postcard of it from 1905. Geneva has been a tourist attraction since the Civil War. We will try to nail the building date down.



This is downtown, Berlin, Wisconsin, the way a downtown ought to look for a town first founded in 1848. The town clearly understands the value of its heritage. Once a quarry and manufacturer of street paving blocks, a major cranberry packing center, cigar maker, and fur and leather industrial site, the town's businesses might now focus on other things but has worked hard to retain the flavor of its heritage.


This is a view into the Nathan Strong Park in Berlin, Wisconsin, that also Provides a nice glimpse at a beautiful Victorian house, one of many in the town. Jason and Sirenio, and then Kendra and Shy, provide nice descriptions of each, drawn from Country Mouse, Country Mouse, written by Mrs. Debbie Coats and her second grade class, Berlin, Wisconsin. Monument: "Nathan Strong set aside this park in 1848. It was first called City Park and then East Side Park. The name of the park was changed to Nathan Strong Park in 1976." House: "There are many Victorian houses in Berlin. This one was built in 1882 and is 124 years old! Susan B. Anthony slept in this house when she visited her friend, Lucy Morris."


"Berlin, Wisconsin's town clock was purchased in 1913 from the E. Howard Clock Company in Boston. The clock tower is 42 feet high. The clock used to be wound by hand every week, but now it runs on electricity." Text by Hailey and Jordan R., from Country Mouse, Country Mouse, written by Mrs. Debbie Coats and her second grade class, Berlin, Wisconsin.


Old Oak Inn, Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. In the Victorian period, this 1902 mansion is now an inn. It holds 19th century art, woodcarving from Germany, stained and etched glass windows, Victorian lighting fixtures, hand-decorated brass hardware, and an open staircase from England.


The old Medford RR Station, which had later become the Pine Line Depot Restaurant. The Pine Line takes its name from the huge quantities of eastern white pine shipped on this route by the Wisconsin Central Railroad between 1876 and 1988, and because of the beautiful stands of pine which dominate the area.


The Taylor County Courthouse is on the National Register of Historical Places, added in 1980. Her architectural style is classical revival. Its period of significance is 1900-1924.


Maple Grove School, Hamburg, Wisconsin in Marathon County, founded in 1904. The school runs K-12 and has about 112 students and seven teachers. She was not always this big, and not always red. It started a nice bright white, and in 1949 was painted red as part of a modernization effort funded by the Fromm Brothers. Fred Fromm's kids, Herbert, Walker, Edward, John Henry, Clara and Erna all were attending in its first year, 1904. The boys continued their education and each became a teacher. Together, they referred to themselves as "The Company" and in the late 1940s donated a sizable amount of money to modernize their alma mater.


Greenville Station site, on route 76 just west of Appleton, Outagamie County. Heather LaRoi wrote about it in 2003, and said, "Over more than a century, the building now known as Greenville Station has been a meeting spot in the community, serving as everything from a post office to a funeral parlor. It’s now a restaurant and bar ... The original building was built in 1897 as the Joseph Kronser Hotel and Saloon, which is how it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It served then as a railroad hotel, saloon and multi-purpose meeting place." October 5, 2005.


Lincoln County Courthouse, Merrill, Wisconsin. Ground broken in 1901 and the contract called for its completion September, 1902. Extensive nation-wide strikes at that time caused work to be suspended for over a year; no part of the iron work could be secured. Today, the colonial style building stands 192 feet tall and will for years to come. It is a monument to the progressiveness of the early citizens of Lincoln County.


City Hall, Merrill, Wisconsin was built in 1888-1889. Several rooms in the City Hall housed the T.B. Scott Free Library, which had been established through a bequest of Thomas B. Scott. The Library rooms opened in 1891, and were used until 1911. The city offices utilized this building until December, 1977, when they were moved to the former Church Mutual Insurance building. In 1978, this building was placed in the National Register of Historic Places. After being sold to private individuals, the historic structure was renovated into apartments.