Tag - wisconsin

Door Creek Orchard, Cottage Grove, WI

Door Creek

Door Creek Orchard

Door Creek Orchard is a fabulous apple farm in Cottage Grove, WI. Here, nature is a sacred paradigm of harmony, and in such environs human beings come to taste a bit of its bounty: dozens of varieties of apples, some raspberries, and bunches of concord and wine grapes. Just minutes from downtown Madison, the orchard is the perfect place to reacquaint with the outdoor world.

Door Creek Orchard brings visitors closer to the benevolence of the Leopoldian ethic of land and engenders strong appreciation of the beauty, bounty, and diversity of southern Wisconsin’s countryside. More than only apples, the orchard is the poet’s plea for what once was, yet could be again: a simple life in which a person has both the time and inclination to ponder old verities, attempt to fathom his universe and himself, expand his imagination, and exert his energy.

For the past 30 years, from August through late October, Tom and Gretchen Griffith have welcomed folks to share the autumn harvest at Door Creek Orchard, which spreads across what was once an early 19th-century Norwegian-American dairy, tobacco, and hog farm. Tom and Gretchen live on the property, in an 1860 farmhouse, which has sheltered their family since 1985, the year the orchard opened. Lush wetlands, rolling fields, and colorful, open woodlands envelop the land. Preying turkey vultures, flocks of blackbirds, cranes, and the occasional bald eagle soar above, painting a nuanced portrait of a singular natural character. Some mornings a white turkey roams the rows of its diverse, neatly planted apple trees.

In addition to the pleasant fall fruit and cider for sale in the shed, Door Creek Orchard provides customers with a quiet place to pick nature’s bounty, a true harvest experience that offers an escape from the pressure of fast-paced urban life. Indeed, the orchard is the result of Tom and Gretchen’s magical and sympathetic coordinations of nature, and though less than a few miles from the swelling peripherals of Madison, and a little over one hour from the urban edginess of Milwaukee, most visitors sense a resurgent aliveness and a refreshed closeness to the soil.

Door Creek agriculture

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep-Door Creek

In an era in which corporate identity is trampling local identity, Door Creek Orchard’s agricultural philosophy thrives in a garden rooted in bedrocks of sustainable parochial farming. Mindful of minimizing the orchard’s environmental impact and committed to a minimum amount of spray, they produce quality, healthful crops while embedding strong protective safeguards. The owners of Door Creek Orchard understand that their produce affects not just the environment but also the community as a whole. Each October morning, Tom Griffith, 62, a seemingly indefatigable man, wakes up with the sun to tend to the orchard’s daily needs. Teeming with life, intelligent, and literary, as well as a competent conversationalist, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of apples. Indeed, both Tom and Gretchen Griffith face down each new morning with the exuberance of contented beavers with more dams to build.

At the upper orchard, American Black Welsh Mountain Sheep graze, frolic, and grovel for apples. This rare, versatile breed provides tasty, mild mutton and a dense, durable fleece. The global population of Black Welsh Mountain sheep is approximately 10,000, with the largest populations found in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, as well as approximately 800 North American animals in over 50 flocks in the U.S. and Canada. Mature ewes average 100 pounds; mature rams can range from 132 to 143 pounds. No limits exist as to breed height, though most purebred animals are relatively squat, typically measuring between 20 to 30 inches at the shoulders. The ewes are polled and the, well, rambunctious rams have awesome sets of horns. Lambs are quick to their feet and vigorous.

For more than two decades, fall to the Griffiths has meant sharing Door Creek Orchard, 3252 Cottage Grove Road, and offering their land and crops to the community; in the process, they have galvanized the latter’s regard and esteem of the land they love and labor. For hours, picking information, or directions: 608-838-4762.

The Mustard Museum Middleton, WI

Mustard Museum exterior

Mustard Museum exterior view

The Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin, is that special place where it is socially acceptable for mustard lovers to openly share, declare and sample their love of that great golden hue which so many of us love but don’t generally show much gratitude for. If you have ever felt like sounding off a few hip, hip, hoorays for this beloved condiment, Middleton is the place to be.

The person behind the World Mustard Museum is Barry Levenson, curator and Chief Mustard Officer of the Mustard Museum. The story begins on the early morning of October 28, 1986. The Boston Red Sox had just lost the World Series to the New York Mets, and just hours after the devastating undoing, Levenson, traipsed through an all-night grocery store, soul-searching for a clearer understanding of life. Crushed by his team’s seventh game squander, he waltzed by the pickles, the ketchups, the relishes, the horseradishes, and the mayos. When he hovered over the mustards, he says he heard a powerful voice, à la Field of Dreams: “If you collect us, they will come.”

“It was a painful time,” recalls Levenson. “I began collecting jars of mustard that night and the collection started to grow and to fascinate me.” At the time of this zestfully zany epiphany, the Massachusetts native served as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. Five years later, the collection grew so large that it warranted a bigger spotlight. Therefore, Levenson fully heeded that voice, quitting law to start a museum with space enough to display the 1,000 jars he had already amassed.

Levenson at the museum

Levenson at the museum

Since then tens of thousands of curiosity hounds have come to the Mustard Museum, which opened April 6, 1992. And even after 17 years of talking mustard, Levenson has not lost his interest in discussing the pungent paste’s history, origins, varieties and virtues.

“Ancient Egyptians chewed mustard seeds to release their essence,” says Levenson. “Dijon mustard began centuries ago in France. Each country since since put their own spin on it. My favorite is whatever I happen to be eating at the time. Putting ketchup on a hot dog or putting mayonnaise on a corn beef sandwich is a travesty!”

The Mustard Museum represents the whole world of mustard powders and plants, from A to Z, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, and quite a few places in between. Slovenian, South African, Italian, Scottish, Welsh, Russian, and Japanese mustards receive special highlighting. Wisconsin mustards get a distinguished exhibition as well, with displays of Wisconsin Wilderness, famous for its cranberry mustard, East Shore, noted for its sweet hot variety, and Koops, an award-winning Eau Claire-based pepper mustard producer.

“You can find so many uses for these super Wisconsin mustards,” says Levenson, “like dill mustard on fish, pepper mustard as an ingredient in guacamole, and putting brown mustard in soups or salad dressings. Wisconsin mustards are worth the trip alone.”

The museum houses more than 5,000 mustards and hundreds of items of mustard memorabilia, including mustard and hot dog art, literature, apparel, toys, coffee mugs, billboards, gift boxes, dispensers, model trucks, and souvenir buses and railroad cars. Other items include 19th century mustard crocks, grand old English silver mustard pots, mustard ads, classic tins, and a Gulden’s radio. Mustard patrons learn just how versatile, practical and diverse mustard is; thousands of hot pepper, garlic, veggie & herb, maple walnut, spicy apricot, herb, black truffle, champagne, mild organic, dill, Dijon, and fruit variations await discovery.

About 35,000 visitors a year from all across the country and globe travel to the Mustard Museum in search of a little culinary or cultural insight. Nevertheless, for Levenson, who has even authored a children’s book entitled Mustard on a Pickle, no praise is too lavish for one of the world’s most ancient spices and oldest known condiments.

Mustard Museum- Wall of Mustard

Mustard Museum- Wall of Mustard

“It’s the smartest condiment of them all,” says Levenson. “as opposed to the dreaded K-word, ketchup, which is, according to National Condiment Research Council, now the leading cause of childhood stupidity. We do not traffic in the lesser condiments here. Just think about how gloomy, fatty and boring mayonnaise is! At least horseradish and mustard belong to the same botanical family, with the same essential element. Horseradish is another acceptable condiment.”

Levenson says that Americans consume approximately 700 million pounds of mustard each year, probably more than any other country, making the wholesomely red-white-and-blue striped Midwest the logical setting for his castle of condiments.

For 20 years, National Mustard Day had been celebrated annually at the Mustard Museum’s Mount Horeb home on the first Saturday in August. The Mustard Museum moved to a new larger space in Middleton in the fall of 2009.

Burnie’s Rock Shop Madison, Wisconsin

Burnie's Rockshop

Burnie’s Rockshop

For all those curious about the ancient world of minerals, here is the sweet lowdown on lapidary. Collecting and learning about the geological landforms of the earth can be a fun, educational and outdoorsy hobby. Similar to most life pursuits, you will need a starting point, and no Wisconsin shop is more equipped to help do it than Burnie’s Rock Shop, where people have been gabbing about gems since 1963.

The majority of rock collectors are aesthetes,” said Nevin Franke, owner of Burnie’s Rock Shop. “Some like the looks and some have a technological interest. For me, it’s all the above, and there’s a sentimental value to it.”

Mineral collecting is a hobby requiring one to learn and study. It can be a lifelong endeavor and the neophyte’s smartest approach would be to cozy up to experienced lapidarists. Rock lovers, like Nevin, are eager to share their knowledge of minerals and explain what makes a certain rock distinct.

Hundreds of rock and mineral clubs exist in the country as solid reference sources. If you are interested in rock hounding, the Madison Gem and Mineral Club, is a fine place to learn, listen and tag along. It meets monthly at the Geology and Science Hall at UW and welcomes new members. Founded in 1962, it was chartered by Burnie Franke, the same year his son Nevin was born.

“The club has had outings nearby on the edge of town at limestone quarries and gone to Ontario, and to sapphire mines in Philipsburg and Helena, Montana,” said Nevin.

Essential ingredient number one, said Nevin, is finding a good resource guide to help identify your finds. Field publications such as Roadside Geology of Wisconsin are chock full of data, maps and graphs. GPS oriented guides make things even simpler for newcomers by eliminating the hassle of trying to comprehend arcane topo maps.

Burnie at work

Nevin Franke at the grinding machine

“After you’ve got the books, taking a mentor with you is the best way to have a good start,” said Nevin. “You want to be with somebody who will show you their favorite spots and is happy to help.”

Once you have rounded up some field guides and a few friends, you will need to purchase a standard-issue, 22-ounce rock hammer and rock chisel, a short pry bar, gloves, and a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes. Then you can start whacking away.

“It’s a real inexpensive way to experience the out of doors with family and friends,” said Nevin.
Other optional accouterments, which tend to make rock-hounding excursions more enjoyable and safe, and a little less stressful, include a backpack to plop your specimens in, a compass, and a big water jug, as junkets tend to take place during warmer months.

Rock hounding enables outside adventuring and it usually inspires hounders to try other new things, such as stone carving, or bead and jewelry making. It keeps enthusiasts engaged – physically and socially – whether it is through traveling to new dig sites or conversing and trading with like-minded lapidarists at mineral shows and rock swaps. The ethics of rock collecting are simple and quite similar to the principles of other outdoor-based pursuits. Don’t trash a site, litter, trespass, or pilfer protected areas.

As far as attractive local haunts, Devil’s Lake State Park is a standout geologic feature worthy of exploration. Other close by beauties are the 1,700- million-year-old sandstone deposits in the Baraboo Range and the Wisconsin Dell’s 14,000-year-old glacially carved sandstone beds.

If you don’t want to go personally plucking rocks, well, that shouldn’t prohibit you from reconnecting to that natural rock collecting spirit you had as a frisky, muddy little kid. The vast majority of Burnie’s inventory comes from vendors, importers and mine owners, and visitors are greeted with everything from Montana agates, Russian garnets, Moroccan fluorites, Chinese pyrites, Brazilian rutilated quartz, and Czech orpiment. Some of the inventory is perhaps as old as the soil it was discovered in, like the late Cambrian, Paleozoic trilobite fossils, estimated by Nevin, to be at least three quarters of a billion years old.

Whether you are interested in collecting rocks and minerals straight from the depths of the earth or purchasing them at a familiar 901 East Johnson Street favorite, just remember that the rock itself may not always be cherished as warmly as the experience of the hunt.

“The rock is often secondary to the time you had searching,” said Nevin. “So, go and have fun—you have to start somewhere. With rock hounding, wherever you start is the right place.”

Hamlin Garland Homestead

Hamlin Garland

Hamlin Garland

Some pithy poet once said, “A man lives, he dies; he is only killed by forgetfulness.” Generals, statesmen, celebrities, sports figures, movie stars, and writers are by and large the types of characters who, for better or worse, usually keep and store well in the collective recall of public awareness. But while history records them as notable, often the communities in which they labored or lived irrespectively overlook their native yields. Many fail dismally even to remember or to recognize the value of their distinct achievements.

Since its beginning in 1851, West Salem, Wisconsin, has seen many noteworthy events take place and many an individual has left their mark upon the village. One of the most consequential is Hamlin Garland. To think of and to understand Garland, a prolific author and poet, it is necessary to begin by keeping in mind the forces which brought his parents to West Salem; to see his father, Richard Garland, as he pushed onward toward the goal of level, rich farmland on the expanding frontier.

Hamlin Garland home

Hamlin Garland home

It’s illuminative for us to revisit a few words of description of Wisconsin and West Salem as written by Hamlin Garland:

“My Wisconsin birthplace has always been a source of deep satisfaction to me. That a lovely valley should form the first picture in my childhood memories is a priceless endowment. It doesn’t matter so much what Green’s Coulee looks like now or what it looked like to grown-ups in 1865. It will always remain a charming and mysterious place to me”

“It is still vivid in my mind. I have but to closed my eyes to the present, and the tiger lilies bloom again in its meadows. The mowers toss up once more the scarlet sprays of strawberries. The blackbirds rise in clouds from out of the ripening corn. A hundred other sights and sounds, equally beautiful and equally significant, fill my inner vision.”

shaded maple

Maple Shade

Born in Greenwood, Maine, on April 1, 1830, Richard Garland ran away from home to work on a railroad. Later he returned home and persuaded his parents to move westward. Arriving in Milwaukee in 1850, they started out across the promising countryside. Weeks later, they had arrived in an open meadow not far from the Mississippi River and the Minnesota border, a place called Green’s Coulee. To the east was a mill pond. A trout brook came in from the north, and a grist mill rose against a conical hill around whose base the mighty river ran in a reedy curve. On the bottom lands to the west, scattered pines were growing, and in the edges of these groves and on the banks of the stream, a group of wigwams denoted the presence of Indians. Here they laid down roots. Richard worked at various jobs, always dreaming of owning his own farm. He soon married a woman called Isabel McClintock. It was in a swatter’s cabin, half way between West Salem and the county hospital that Dr. William Hughes Stanley delivered a baby boy, christened Hamlin Garland, on September 14, 1860.

During the Civil War, Richard joined the Union army. Upon his return, the family moved westward, making their new home in Winnesheik County, Iowa, in 1868. After spending his teenage years in rural Iowa, Garland became a teacher in the Boston School of Oratory. Between the years of 1885 and 1889 he taught private classes in both English and American literature. Some time was also spent lecturing on land reform in and around Boston, where he made the acquaintance of Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Bernard Shaw, William Dean Howells, Edwin Booth and other worthies.

A trip back to Wisconsin in 1887 led him to write his Mississippi Valley stories. His impressions induced a mood of bitterness. During the weeks he worked on his father’s farm, he became aware that every detail of his daily life on the farm was assuming literary significance in his mind.

“The quick callusing of my hands, the swelling of my muscles, the sweating of my scalp, all the unpleasant results of physical pain I noted down…Labor when so prolonged and severe as at this time my toil had to be its warfare…I studied the glory of the sky and the splendor of the wheat with a deepening sense of the generosity of nature and the monstrous injustice of social creeds.”

It was three years later that Main Travelled Roads was published. An instant attack was made on the book in the Midwest because it pictures the ugliness, endless drudgery and loneliness of life on a farm. Reviewers in the East, such as William Dean Howells, however, praised him.

“The stories are full of those gaunt, grim, sordid, pathetic, ferocious figures, whom our satirists find so easy to caricature as Hayseeds,” wrote Howells in Harper’s Magazine. “The type caught in Mr. Garland’s book is not pretty; it is ugly and often ridiculous; but it is heartbreaking in its rude despair.”

Hamlin Garland home

Hamlin Garland home

In 1891, his first novel, A Spoil of Office, was published. It was based on the political unrest in the agricultural regions of the country. The Populist movement was now in its heyday, and Hamlin’s father, Richard, was a delegate to the Omaha convention of the Populists. The winter of 1892 was spent in New York, but the following year Garland moved his headquarters to Chicago. One year later Hamlin bought his parents their first home, called the Hays House, in West Salem. It was situated on the road leading to the town of Mindoro, where so many of his mother’s family and friends lived. Built in 1857, the house was part of a wooded, four-acre lot, and immediately Hamlin began enlarging it, raising the west end to the two- story bay window first, tearing out the partition in the living room, putting in a furnace and bathroom. The only part left unchanged was the stairway. From 1893-1915, Garland summered here, and from 1916-1938 he extended his stays from spring till fall.

In 1912, an overheated grease fire, which started in the kitchen when the maid was lighting the fire in the oil stove to heat water for the morning washing, destroyed much of the home.  But Hamlin quickly restored it. The Garlands had the first tennis court in West Salem and tennis parties were frequently held there. Named “Maple Shade” for the beautiful maple trees which shaded the kitchen and rear entry, it held tremendous views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Garland’s mother lived permanently in the house, but Richard continued to spend summers in Dakota.

Hamlin’s first born, a daughter named Mary Isabel, was born in West Salem in 1903, while the second was born in Chicago in 1907. Their summers were spent in West Salem until 1915 when they began summering in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The folks of West Salem recall Garland as an eccentric and withdrawn man, as an article in the Saturday Sentinel alludes:

“The inhabitants of La Crosse County have been troubled by the fact that he writes books. From the society of these blissfully unliterary persons he departs each year into the book sets of Chicago and New York, where he is more profoundly terrorized at the display of new books.”

It was written that Garland might be met on the street but never acknowledged the passerby. One woman called Mrs. Tilson, who lived across the street from Garland for many years, when asked how she ever got the man to return her greeting, said that the exchange happened only because she had been “working on it for twenty years.”

It was in 1917 that A Son of the Middle Border was published. The next year, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Four years hence, A Daughter of the Middle Border was published. For this novel, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for best biography of 1921. The University of Wisconsin gave Garland the degree of Doctor of Letters on June 21, 1926. In bestowing this honor, Professor Frederick Paxson said: “Hamlin Garland is the novelist of our northwest farmer country. For thirty-five years his easy pen has worked at the life of our people…His writings are words of art, but they are also documents that may become the source of history…as the preserver of the fact and flavor that gave identity to the Middle Border from which we sprang.”

Garland sold Maple Shade in 1938. In the long run every man has to shut down – Garland died in 1940 – and if he is remembered thereafter it is by the effort of others.

In 1959, Errol Kindschy was a young man, barely into his 20s, when he first saw the village of West Salem through the eyes of a fledgling social studies teacher. He had only been in the town for two weeks before the school year began, and on the first day he posed the same opening inquiry to each of the six classes he was hired to instruct.

“I asked if anybody famous was from this area,” recalls Kindschy. “For five classes, I was told quite affirmatively no. But on the last class of the day, one of the boys raised his hand, and he said that an author of some kind was from the town. He didn’t even know his name. This got me curious.”

Kindschy asked neighbors and coworkers about this famous mystery man, most of whom knew nearly nothing about the accomplished writer beyond the vague recognition of his name: Hamlin Garland.

There was one woman, however, one Rachel Gullickson, who was rather offended by Kindschy because he didn’t know the slightest bit about Garland. Not only was she familiar with Garland, a huge fan of his writing talents, but she lived in what was once his homestead.

“Gullickson moved in when Garland moved out,” said Kindschy. “This made me even more interested in Garland, and also quite interested in the fact that no history of West Salem had ever been written. When the Garland homestead came up for sale in 1972, I bought it, restored it, formed the West Salem Historical Society, and resold it to the society at a low rate.”

Although a bit run down and neglected at the time of the purchase, Kindschy saw a glimmer of a forgotten world. He understood that a single house may have only limited architectural significance, but the former residence of a great writer makes an indelible impression.

Thanks to Wisconsin Historical Society funds, donations and volunteer muscle, the Hamlin Garland Homestead was restored to the period of 1912 to 1915. The restoration of the Garland Homestead, which neatly reversed the structure from a jumbled three apartment subdivide, started in 1974, and concluded two years later, opening to the public on July 4, 1976.

It’s been more than 30 years and most of Wisconsin still doesn’t know we are here,” says Kindschy. Kindschy wants to push forward nevertheless. He intends to translate some of Garland’s better material into German and Japanese himself. Plus, he still has ample material from Garland’s extensive catalogue to get acquainted with.

I’ve read thirty-eight out of the fifty-two books Garland wrote,” says Kindschy. “And, honestly, some of them I wish I never picked up, and some of them are fantastic. Main Travelled Roads and Trailmakers, which is the story of the Garlands coming into this area, are my favorites.”

“Somewhere in Garland’s life,” he continues, “he discovered that all the books he was reading had happy endings. He didn’t like this. In my opinion, he became the first American realist, Jack London and others followed. In his lifetime, he was known as a controversial dean of American Literature. I’ve dug up old newspaper articles in which he was booed off the stage here in West Salem at the old settlers’ meeting, and booed off the stage at the University of Madison, for supporting American Indians and women’s independence and education, promoting the occult and séances, and proposing a single tax system.”

Kindschy and I toured Garland’s study, which includes his rocker, desk, movie projector, ink wells, pictures, and books.  It’s one of the most evocative rooms in the house, silent and peaceful, with Garland’s own card table and playing cards, and a bookcase of his original books, many autographed to members of his family or friends.

It’s Kindschy’s favorite room – and it shows in his keenness. I never saw anyone so feverishly alive as this little, old man in this room, his bright, withered cheeks, over which the skin was drawn tightly, his darting eyes, under their prickly bushes of eyebrow, his fantastically-creased white and gold curls of hair, his subtle mouth, and, above all, his hands, never at rest. His fingers are short, tight, bony, wrinkled, with every finger alive at the tips, like the fingers of a mesmerist. His hands are never out of his sight, they travel to his nose, crawled all over his face, and grimace in little gestures.

Garland had an indoor bathroom and tennis court and lawn mower,” says Kindschy, pointing to the back yard. “So people thought he was putting on heirs. He wouldn’t converse with the local people at all. His short stories were thought to have portrayed some of the local Germans in a negative light. He described them as he saw them, I guess. They wanted to talk about family and farming, he wanted to talk about literature and books. Those farmers, they didn’t see his work as a writer.”

One hour or so later, we were back downstairs in the museum room, which includes Garland’s actual Pulitzer Prize, his original book illustrations, first editions, family photos, letters, autographs, cards, and poems, all of which have been collected by Kindschy over time.

“One time I was playing Hamlin Garland,” says Kindschy, flipping through a scrapbook of Garland-related press clippings. “And this 80-year-old woman came up to me and said, ‘do you remember when I brought cookies to your house? I knocked on your door, and you asked me what I wanted, grabbed the plate, said thanks, and slammed the door. I cried all the way home.’ She must have thought I was Garland.”

As we exited the museum room and prepared to return to the vagaries of the banal, comparatively dull world outside, Kindschy speculated on the long-term fate of Garland’s writings, which he thinks might someday have a revival. A revival he hopes to spark with a blitzkrieg of Garland events scheduled to coincide with the one-hundred and fifty year anniversary of his birth in September.

During a brief interlude in the conversation, I told Kindschy how much I appreciated all that he has done to preserve and enhance a deference that transcends a single, tangible structure, and that stimulates symbolic, hopeful feelings drawn from the desire to learn our cultural heritage.

Seemingly quite touched, he clicked off the lights, grinned affectionately, took a deep breath, and said, “I am proud of what I have been able to do to contribute to the recognition of Hamlin Garland.

Sterling North Boyhood Wisconsin Home, American Literary Landmark

Sterling North Boyhood Home

Sterling North Boyhood Home

Wisconsin has produced many influential writers and served as the mental and emotional source for many literary bodies of work. In Edgerton, Wisconsin, the tourist with the most bookish of bents can visit the landmark boyhood home and museum of Sterling North, world-famous author of Rascal, So Dear to my Heart, The Wolfling, and 28 other works.

Native Wisconsinite Sterling North grew up in the once thriving tobacco town of Edgerton. In 1963 he completed the book Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era. Set in 1917 when he was only 11 years old, the best-selling book chronicles a boy’s fondness for and friendship with a pet raccoon in the fictitious “Brailsford Junction.”

The home, which is open from April 5 (on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. through December 20) may be toured by appointment. Refurbished to its 1917 setting and furnished with period antiques, the museum showcases North’s desk, typewriter, photos, books and many family artifacts and memorabilia. The renovated barn is also part of the tour. It opened in 1999, and it has been utilized by several area civic and cultural groups as a conduit for educational programs for school kids.

History of Sterling North Boyhood Home

Sterling North Boyhood

Sterling North Boyhood

The locally-organized Sterling North Society purchased the home in 1992 for $65,000, and later hired architects Engsburg and Anderson to retrofit it to centuries past. The structure was erected in 1894 by North’s grandfather, Thomas North; Sterling and his Father, D.W. North, moved into the house in 1914.

Architects recreated as much as was doable from the days when North wrote Rascal: non-original walls were razed; woodwork and molding removed; windowpanes replaced; doorways widened. Exterior porches were restructured, floors sanded and refinished, walls plastered and painted, and light fixtures installed. All total, the complete restoration project cost $122,000.

Sterling North Boyhood Home, Edgerton, Wisconsin

The Sterling North Boyhood Home, 409 West Rollin Street, Edgerton, Wisconsin, is used as a scholarly center housing the complete collection of North’s books and poetry. North’s accomplishments are featured in the upstairs museum room with glass-encased memorabilia, including the typewriter on which he produced Rascal and The Wolfling. Other notable artifacts include North’s desk, his father’s typewriter, and his brother Herschel’s W.W.I uniform.

One room of the home is dedicated to Rascal, North’s memoirs about nurturing a raccoon, published in 1963. The book, which has sold more than two and one-half million copies since, has been translated into 18 other languages. Rascal was even crafted into a Walt Disney film in 1969. It became a 52-episode cartoon in Japan in 1977, establishing itself as one of the country’s most popular cartoon adaptations of a children’s book ever. Visitors from Japan have gifted the room with an interesting assortment of Japanese Rascal souvenirs.

Wade House, Wisconsin, Historic Site of American Stagecoach Travel

StageCoach Wadehouse Hotel

Stagecoach Wade House Hotel

Wade House Stagecoach Inn, Greenbush, Wisconsin, opened in 1850 to serve stagecoach travel on the bustling Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Plank Road. An excursion to the Wade House takes visitors to the 1860s era of horse-drawn transportation, westward expansion, the American Civil War, and the mid-19th century architectural design of a town and settlement.

Wade House, Wisconsin, Stagecoach Inn

Tours of the Wade House and grounds begin without a short, illustrative ride to the Wade House aboard a horse-drawn wagon. Dressed in period attire, a costumed interpreter leads tours through all three floors of the inn, which was originally constructed in 1844 as a log cabin and tavern. Comprised of locally-harvested and sawed lumber, the regal and distinguished three-story, Greek Revival-style inn typified the trendy building design of the era. The 27-room stagecoach inn, which functioned as a respite for fatigued travelers, was the idea of Yankee settlers Sylvanus and Betsy Wade.

The Herrling Sawmill, reconstructed in 2001, was operated by Theodore Herrling and soon became the supply of lumber for the local settlement’s requirements. The original sawmill that stood at the same spot operated from 1854 to 1910. Utilizing the heat of the forge, it was the blacksmith’s craft to keep carriages operating and horses well-shorn. Recreated when the site opened in 1953, the fiery, utilitarian shop is an exact period representation of a role essential to the period.

Home to one of the country’s finest, rarest, and most eclectic array of carriages, sleighs, wagons, and more, the Wesley Jung Carriage Museum holds more than 125 horse- and hand-drawn vehicles. Wesley W. Jung was the grandson of Jacob Jung, the owner of a successful carriage-making company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Forty percent of the museum’s carriages were made by the Jung Carriage Company.

Wade House Civil War Reenactment

History 1850 wadehouse

1850 Wadehouse

The Wade House celebrates not only the world of plank road stagecoach travel, but it also hosts a slew of special events and programs throughout the year. One of the site’s biggest and most attended events, the immersive two-day experience, which includes Civil War music from the battlefield and a visit from Abraham Lincoln, usually falls on the last weekend in September. Reenactments include two battles daily and explorations into a soldier’s battle life in artillery, infantry and camp.

Bordered by 240 pristine acres within the northern boundaries of the Kettle Moraine National Forest, Wade House Historic Site is located off Highway 23, midway between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac.

Odd Wisconsin Attractions: Clinton’s Truck in the Tree

 Clinton's Truck in the Tree

Clinton’s Truck in the Tree

Along Interstate 43 near Clinton, in southern Wisconsin, a shiny, classic Chevy truck sits high on the horizon like an absurd vision above the concrete and asphalt. You look once at the Chevy wedged between two tall trees. You look a second time. You gawk at it a third and fourth time. You still cannot comprehend what you are seeing. It’s a spectacle unlike any other: a truck in a tree.

The Truck in the Tree began as an ordinary request to a father from his son for a tree house. A creation of the “Mad Man of Wisconsin”—a play on Clinton resident Mark Madson’s last name— the turquoise and white, 1959, half-ton Chevy Fleetside pickup truck has been wedged between two basswood trees since 1994. It stands as a sentinel to Madson’s maniacal, motley collection of reworked vehicles, statues, and sculptures made of old scraps, parts and components.

Madson has long been an ardent thinker, recreating new from old and looking at things from a uniquely keen perspective. In fact, he describes himself an “upside-down and backwards guru.

One of Madson’s more recent vehicular-based creations is the Packer Mobile, a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz that he debuted in 2008 when the Pack was headed toward a 13-3 season. He drove nearly 400 miles round trip to Green Bay to watch his beloved Packers annihilate the lowly Lions. Four hundred miles isn’t too demanding of a pilgrimage. Except for when it is late December, and you are driving the northern section of Wisconsin in a convertible with the top down, the wind whipping front to back and sideways. During the drive, it was a bitter 13 degrees, with a wind chill dynamic of about 40 below. The Packer Mobile featured a six-foot flagpole bearing the Packers flag, as well as an 11-foot flame-painted surfboard, a blue shark fin, and bullhorns. The Packer Mobile is in fact Madson’s sixth conversion of this Cadillac-turned-convertible, the last of which was dedicated to the saucily insolent Jimmy Buffett.

The Truck in the Tree stands as a testament to one Wisconsinite’s bold attempt to change or enhance the state’s landscape. In fact, Madson’s experience and imagination has garnered him appearances on television shows, such as Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Junkyard Wars, and the Discovery Channel’s Monster Nation. On Monster Nation, he morphed a car into a small package – the ultimate act of inventive recycling and mashing.

Joseph Webster House

Webster

Webster

At 9 East Rockwell Street in the small town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, stands the modest, white Greek Revival style house where Joseph Philbrick Webster lived from 1857 until his death in 1875, at the age of 56.

Webster’s compositions were eclectic, including music for ballads, religious hymns, nationalistic drama, and a cantata – a vocal composition intended for musical accompaniment and a choir. He penned most of his more than 1,000 songs in his Elkhorn home, and some of his classics are still well-known today. “Lorena”, for example, was heard and immortalized in the classic film Gone With the Wind.

Joseph Webster, a precocious musical talent, was a businessman, music teacher, and piano tuner, who moved his family to Racine, Wisconsin, in 1856 and eventually settled in Elkhorn one year later. The prolific Webster composed “Lorena” in 1857, an antebellum melody with Northern roots and considered to be the most popular song of the American Civil War era. “Lorena” was based on Webster’s fond recollection of an Ohio girl named Ella Blocksom. In 1860, he composed “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets“, which later found fame under the titled “Wildwood Flower”. In 1868, he wrote one of the most enduring and recognizable Christian hymns in American history: “In the Sweet By and By.”

Webster’s family continued to live in the house until 1951. After the last Webster descendant passed away, the house was sold to the Walworth County to serve as a museum. The Webster House is loaded with vintage pieces that belonged to Webster and his family. The Music Room displays Webster’s splendid compositions, notes, and song books, as well as his treasured rosewood piano and numerous other 19th-century period instruments.

webster house

Webster house

Directly behind the Webster House stands an 1850 hand-hewn oak beam barn, with the carriage of General John W. Boyd inside, as well as other artifacts related to the Boyd Family’s achievements. Webster is interred at the Hazel Ridge Cemetery in Elkhorn, where his epitaph announces, “Joseph P. Webster. In the Sweet By and By We Shall Meet“.

The Webster House is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now the center of the Walworth County Historical Society.

The Webster House is located at 9 East Rockwell Street, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, on the corner of Rockwell and South Washington Street, one block from Highway 67.

Dickeyville Grotto

Grotto

Grotto Gift shop

The Dickeyville Grotto, located on US 151 in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, was erected in the village of Dickeyville, Wisconsin, on Holy Ghost Parish grounds. The main grotto and related shrines are the works of Father Matthias Wernerus, a Catholic priest and pastor of the town parish from 1918 to 1931. His crowning realization, built from 1920 to 1930, is devoted to the pursuit and harmony of two great American loves: God and Country. Remarkably, these religious and patriotic shrines were constructed without an outline or draft.

These shrines are striking designs of stone, mortar, and vividly colored objects. Materials collected from all across the world include multicolored glass, bright gems, antique heirlooms of pottery, porcelain, stalagmites and stalactites, commemorative China, sea shells, starfish, and petrified sea urchins and fossils. Embedded within are a variety of corals, amber glass, agate, quartz and ores, such as copper, iron, and lead, fool’s gold, rock crystals, onyx, amethyst and coal, petrified wood and moss. Most of shells, stones, tiles, wood, glass, gems and geodes were donated by parishioners.

Grotto of the Blessed Virgin

Grotto of the Blessed Virgin

There are quite a few shrines in the handsome Grotto garden. Besides the main shrine, which houses the Grotto of the Blessed Virgin, there is a patriotic memorial, the sacramental temple of the Holy Eucharist, Grotto of the Blessed Virgin, Grotto of the Sacred Heart, Christ the King shrine, Fatima shrine, the Eucharistic Altar, the Holy Ghost Tree, and the Stations of the Cross. These structures surround the Holy Ghost Church. Visited by 40,000 to 60,000 travelers every year, Dickeyville Grotto stands at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 151 and Highway 35.

In 1920, Father Mathias Wernerus commenced his first undertaking in concrete and stone for the benefit of his parish. He took his duties as builder, supervisor, and caretaker of the Holy Ghost Parish seriously, putting up numerous shrines on church property. Wernerus is said to have viewed the shrines as his personal contribution to return his lost sheep to the flock. The memorials and grottoes, which comprise Dickeyville Grotto, were built from 1920 to 1930 (the site was renovated between 1995 and 1997). While most of the site’s components are religious in nature, the Patriotism Shrine includes depictions of Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Grotto

Grotto

Dickeyville Grotto inspires visitors to broaden and explore their imaginations. Every corner and surface of the grotto is layered with gorgeous colors, glass-shard flowers, vividly patriotic and religious symbols, even quirky minutiae, such as ornamental perfume bottle stoppers. A visit to the Dickeyville Grotto is an enhancing experience that delights the eyes on innumerable levels. It is no wonder that it has served as inspiration for many other smaller folk and religious mosaic art constructions in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Wollersheim Winery

By Brian D’Ambrosio,
Wollersheim

Wollersheim

Nuzzled on an attractive knoll facing the Wisconsin River, Wollersheim Winery is rich in history. It is one of America’s oldest wine-making estates, and its original 19th-century, limestone winery is its handsome centerpiece. The Wollersheim family has been producing red, blush and white wines for just over 40 years and had further reason to celebrate its anniversary upon winning “Winery of the Year” at the San Diego International Wine Competition in 2012.

Wollersheim Winery Wisconsin

An ambitious, Hungarian count by the name of Agoston Haraszthy chose this location for his vineyards in the 1840s. However, following a number of years of failure with winter damage to the vines, he sold the property to his vineyard manager, Peter Kehl, and pursued the great Gold Rush out West in December 1849. In due course, Haraszthy became noted as the founder of the California wine industry.

Wollersheim Winery Wisconsin

Wollersheim Winery Wisconsin

Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim purchased the neglected grounds in 1972, with the goal of re-establishing it as a working- family winery.

More than 120 years later, the Wollersheim family sowed the banked slopes with vineyards, cultivating in the unique climate and growing conditions of Wisconsin.

As part of the fix up, the Wollersheim had the underground limestone wine cellars reconditioned with oak barrels and the upstairs of the main building turned into a wine store. It was a veritable dream come true for Robert Wollersheim, who was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An electrical engineer for the UW-Space Science program, Robert helped build weather radar and space satellites during the 1960s and 70s. Once tiring of engineering life, he moved to Prairie du Sac with his wife and children and started a new career as a vintner.

Frenchman Philippe Coquard, who grew up in France and worked at his family’s wineries, joined Wollersheim Winery and  became a winemaker here 1985. The prominence of family heritage lives on as Philippe and his wife, Julie Coquard, Robert and JoAnn’s daughter now operate the estate winery.

Wollersheim Winery Midwest Nationally-Recognized Winery Tours

Wollersheim Winery

Wollersheim Winery

Wollersheim harvests 27 acres of vineyards and produces seven different wines, such as Prairie BlushFumé, Ruby Nouveau and Domain du Sac, from four hybrid varietals. The family further collaborates with wineries in Washington and New York to grow varietals like Chardonnay, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir.

Annual productivity, including the Cedar Creek label, has surged from 15,000 gallons in 1987 to of more than 240,000 gallons in 2014. The winery mostly markets wines in Wisconsin, with the majority sold at Prairie du Sac and Cedarburg locations. This provincial South Wisconsin winery has received ample awards for its productions and has earned recognition as a principal winery in the Midwest.

Since 1995, Wollersheim Winery has undergone several expansions to augment wine production capacity. In 2008, it commemorated the 150th anniversary of the original winery building, with the expansion of its visitor space.

Wollersheim Winery Wisconsin

Wollersheim Winery Wisconsin

In December 2010, Wollersheim announced that it would begin to distill white wine. The liquid will become brandy after aging in oak barrels for two years. The company began distilling 2,500 gallons of wine made from Wisconsin-grown La Crosse and St. Pepin white hybrid grapes with the use of a Portuguese pot.

The Winery offers scheduled, daily tours and wine tastings are available at anytime. The outdoor balcony and wine garden provide particularly attractive vineyard views from spring through fall. Wollersheim Winery is on Highway 188 and across the river from Prairie du Sac, just 25 miles northeast of Madison. Hours: MondaySunday: 10am – 5pm; Closed: New Years Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Forevertron: The Mythic Obsession of Dr. Evermore’s Kinetic Architecture

Dr Evemore

Dr Evermore

Commentary? Why bother? Is it part of a categorical genre or label?

No such classification exists.

Materials? How about carburetors, generators, brass copper, steel, early x-ray machines, scrapped vehicles, saw blades, oxidized pipe, theater speakers, river barges and rusty hamburger signs signs–to name just a few components.

Is it a time travel machine or a rigorously sane ecological statement? On a reasoned level, it is the stockpiling of all the shapes, forms and mechanisms of the industrial age, with parts gathered from all over the world. Capped by a copper-clad glass ball, the top section is a constructed space capsule.

Look hard and see it all: junk heaps of industry, contaminated plastics, reused industry surplus, rejected A-frame houses, historical artifacts, agricultural detritus, and utilitarian mechanical remnants, the brilliant discoveries that have altered the way that man influences the world.

Peer out into the sublime vastness of the solar system, imagine a tumble through the abyss of geological time, and one can not help but think, too, of how infinitesimal the moment of our own existence now appears. To the fantastical soul, how futile seems the span of an individual life.

Metaphysical Beauty

Metaphysical Beauty

Metaphysical Beauty

Beauty is indeed in the metaphysical. And there are plenty of both – marvelous beauty and freedom of interpretation – here at the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. All you have to do is accept the scenic and historical integrity of the site, resist definition, let your thoughts synthesize, smile, and you will be just fine. After all, it is only a complex, futuristic assemblage to be used as a means to transport to the heavens that you are looking at. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Instead of imposing your interpretation, it’s best to leave it alone,” says Tom Every, aka Dr. Evermore, the progenitor of this artistic innovation. “I don’t impose my interpretation here, but I let others find their own interpretations. People that are stymied come here and pick up the brushes of energy. It’s a place to get the imagination and inspiration going, and what more can you really do for people than that?”

This is the good doctor’s world at Forevertron, a fascinating salvage of bits and pieces of machineries, bridging the industrial revolution to today’s computer-driven, de-industrialized dimensions; between fifty to one hundred years old, parts stand welded and bolted together for stability. Historical components include a pair of bipolar electrical dynamos constructed by Thomas Edison, in the late nineteenth century, and a decontamination chamber from the Apollo Space Mission.

The Thought Patterns Of Nikola Tesla

Dr Evermores's masterpiece

Dr Evermores’s masterpiece

“These Edison bipolar dynamos have Tesla’s thought patterns on it, constructed around 1882. They came from the Ford Museum. With all designing and engineering, people stand on others’ shoulders to progress things.” – Tom Every

In a world seemingly without very much order, priority or focus, it is surprising perhaps that Every can recall the true origins and exact functions of each piece of metal. He knows each bearing, grinder, shifter, cannibalized car, rusty winch, and block of iron. He claims there is a story behind each, a tale of hauling, a memory of turbulence, and a remembrance of what was. It seems that the eschatologist in Every revels in the doctrines concerning the final matters of steel, industry, and, ultimately, human existence and fate.

“You can’t reverse our impact or what we made things for,” says Every. “I don’t believe junking iron and steel. I am for showing what the consequence of humans on the planet has been, not expunging it. I see trouble in what we are building nowadays. Because there is no real integrity, just short-term patterns. I did three hundred and fifty major wrecking jobs, and I sure can tell the difference in construction materials used then and now.”

The Gravitron, which took three years to put together, consists predominately of circular metal components: wrought iron, copper, brass and stainless steel are the most evident. Its principal central section is a kinetic bank of generators, thrusters and other electromagnetic power sources. It is a monumental sculpture, weighing roughly three hundred tons and standing one-hundred twenty feet wide, sixty feet deep, fifty feet high. Every sees it as a sort of gateway between worlds. If all goes accordingly, the Gravitron force will somehow leave the earth, connect with outer space, and return to re-connect with him on the earth – all in preparation of an afterlife. The ‘Celestial Listening Ear’ should permit him to broadcast extraterrestrial observations to those on earth.

“All the elements and thoughts patterns of electricity and time travel are involved here,” says Every. “There is a reality, progression, and integrity of touching electricity and time, and this is the product of that. I am most into energy flowing, and I have nothing but respect for it.”

Dispersed in proximity to the Forevertron are fanciful pieces that reveal themselves perfectly suited to the good-bye bonanza of Dr. Evermore’s separation from earth. The most lovable group of peripheral figures is the Bird Band, a coterie of figures pieced together from brass bedposts, old tools and other hardware, pipe fittings, bike brakes, survey markers, gasoline nozzles, facsimile laser guns, and a full complement of working musical instruments. One is comprised of Haitian steel drums and another has chimes that form an old church hanging on its back. Just where it is that the doctor will end up once he has blasted off is anyone’s guess, but at least some facts exist as to where and how this man came to be.

Being Doctor Evermore

Forevertron
Forevertron

Of Cockney descent, Every appears intimidating, but in actuality he is a friendly eccentric who could chat for hours about his work – and energy force. Born in 1938, country kid Tom O. Every was enthralled by scrap, steel and junk. Traveling by bicycle through the quiet streets of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, he sought out unusual objects to turn into useful gadgetry. This childhood fascination with such materials led to a career in industrial wreckage.

As a salvage man, Every traveled to factories and industrial sites and dismantled obsolete machinery. He soon shifted from wrecker of shambles to preserver of clutter, hoarding odd shapes and forms that he felt would soon somehow disappear from the landscape, such as tank ends with interesting rivets, or brewery furnaces.

Dr. Evermore And Forevertron

Every sorted and saved as many unusual components as space and energy allowed, by his account about a thousand tons. He renounced his former ideas and business plans, becoming reborn as Dr. Evermore, and through this new identity, he built Forevertron.

“I had to become Dr. Evermore back in 1983,” says Every. “I was bothered by all that I saw in the world; I wanted to perpetuate myself back into the heavens on this magnetic lightning force field.” 

The mission of Forevertron and its kinetic sculpture is restless exploration. Ultimately, pushed against this steely reserve of earthly time and its transience, Every, 75, like many of us, dreams of posterity. His passion for art is fresh and innocuous. He does not hunger for fame or utility, but hopes for a lasting monument, and, in the interim, a secure place on earth to illustrate his energies; to muse over the question of extinction and the march of time, and man’s place in the universe. And well, just to live like a young boy enthralled by metal.

“This is the place for playing around and to have fun without the bullshit of life interfering,” Every smiles. “It’s like a disease here because all I see are positive things. I have a set amount of time here to do the best that I can, and I am happy with each new load of stuff I can use.”

Choice Chitchat: Tom Every’s sculpture garden is located on Highway 12, five miles south of Baraboo, Wisconsin. No admission fee is charged. On most days from late spring to late fall, you may find Dr. Evermore in the center of Forevertron, reading, writing, drawing, or just thinking–hours vary. The garden sits behind Delaney’s Salvage, the perfect compliment for artistic eccentricity.

Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

by Brian D’Ambrosio,

“Gilded Age Mansion the Link to Pabst, the Man”

Pabst

Pabst

Esteemed for its cheap cost and blue-collar image, Pabst is the perennial favorite of college kids, country folk, and your average patriotic red-white-blue beer guzzler. Behind the legendary product, however, is the unique life of the forgotten Captain Frederick Pabst (1836-1904), an enterprising immigrant, a successful industrialist, and a fine philanthropist.

 Frederick Pabst emigrated from Germany in 1848 at the age of twelve with his parents. After they arrived in their new country, they traveled west to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, still a frontier town in 1848, was not to their liking and so they settled in Chicago. During the next two years, Frederick and his father made a living by working in various hotels and restaurants. He worked as a hotel waiter, then as a cabin boy on a Lake Michigan steamer, eventually becoming head of one of the vessels. By age 21, he had worked his way so far up the shipping trade hierarchy that Frederick Pabst became Captain, a title he affectionately retained until the day he died. In his riverboat travels, he met a German entrepreneur named Phillip Best, owner of a small Milwaukee brewery.

After marrying the man’s daughter, Frederick came into partnership of the brewery’s operations. A few years later, Frederick bought out his father-in-law, and, in 1889, Best Brewing became Pabst Brewing Company. Soon the prosperous man needed a home fit for his needs and those of his family. He chose Grand Avenue in Milwaukee as that place, for it was an attractive, well-heeled, tree-lined thoroughfare with many great mansions. Construction began in the summer of 1890, and over the course of the following two years, the Pabst Mansion took ornate, extravagant shape, each room ingrained with Flemish style custom furniture, paneling, and panache. At the time of its completion, in July 1892, the Pabst Mansion represented novel standards of modernity and sophistication in design. Since then, it has stood sentinel to Milwaukee’s history, tendering one of the few constants in its changing urban environment, surviving as the epitome of America’s Gilded Age splendor in that city.

Pabst Mansion

Pabst Mansion

John Eastberg is the Director of Development at the Pabst Mansion, and a senior Pabst Historian. He started as a volunteer at the mansion more than 15 years ago. Since then he has learnt the details of every nook, cranny, cubbyhole, slot, ornament, and piece of artwork inside. “Up until the 1890s,” said Eastberg, “there really weren’t any major Flemish Renaissance Revival Style buildings like this in Milwaukee. This was an aberration and a trendsetter. It has the classic American gilded age interior that exemplifies the very best that European design had to offer. Here, we see everything from the artwork, furniture, paneling, and the compartmentalizing of rooms harmonizing with that style.”

At several points, from the beginning of the 20th century onward, the Pabst Mansion has faced the unfortunate prospect of annihilation via the crashing thud of the wrecking ball. The Pabst heirs sold their family home in 1908 to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. For sixty-seven years, five archbishops called the Pabst Mansion their home, preserving the house during urban renewal demolitions. “There were so many structures of the same character and caliber lining the streets here,” said Eastberg. “And this one is the only one left still intact with its original furnishings. Original furniture and family heirlooms are always filtering back to us. We just received armchairs from Mrs. Pabst’s sitting room.” At the time of his death, Captain Frederick Pabst had amassed a veritable brewing and real estate empire. He died on January 1, 1904, leaving the brewery to his sons. Eastberg says that Pabst was far more complex and multi-dimensional than simply being a wise business magnate; he was humbly devoted to his family, friends, and charitable works.

“Frederick Pabst was known in his lifetime to be a very good person,” said Eastberg. “Many famous people in American history we come to learn are not-so-great people. He did great things for the community, his employees, and his family. As far as any gossipy stuff, he was a beer baron who drank a lot of wine. He may have even preferred it.”
Pabst Mansion- old days

Pabst Mansion- old days

Pabst Brewing Company closed its Milwaukee brewery in 1996, and now conducts operations out of corporate headquarters in suburban Chicago. The mansion exists today as one of Milwaukee’s great architectural landmarks, and towers as a prominent link to the Captain’s life and times, bridging three centuries in the process. While dignified, proud, and in remarkably good overall condition, certain rooms show inevitable signs of decay. The success or failure of tending to the Pabst Mansion, says Eastberg, has broader implications than whether or not Pabst enthusiasts have a fun destination for an eccentric road trip or not. The way we treat our historical sites, he says, is a good indication as to how we treat our community, and a building of this stature deserves vigorous attention.

 “The restorations here never end,” said Eastberg. “It’s just like owning your own home, the work never ends. I know that the restoration projects here are complicated and expensive, but there’s no place that’s anything like this in the state – or anywhere else for that matter. It is definitely its own entity and destination.”

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