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WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Editor’s note: Saving Downtown is an award-winning series by freelance writer Lisa Schmelz exploring how Walworth County communities are breathing new life into their historic downtown districts. This is the seventh installment.

Visit other towns in the Saving Downtown series by going online to communityshoppers.com/tag/Saving-downtown.

David John Dietrich, a classically trained artist, recently purchased one of the 16 historic buildings that once served as the main artery of downtown Darien. He opened the doors to his gallery in March with an exhibition, bringing storefront occupancy on this lonely stretch of the past to 53 percent.

Editor’s note: Saving Downtown is an award-winning series by freelance writer Lisa Schmelz exploring how Walworth County communities are breathing new life into their historic downtown districts. This is the sixth installment.

Visit other towns in the Saving Downtown series by going online to communityshoppers.com/tag/Saving-downtown.

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- On a recent Sunday afternoon, the streets of historic Sharon were eerily quiet. There were very few cars, very few people and many vacant storefronts in this rural village on the Wisconsin-Illinois stateline. Don Weig, 82, owns three of those empty buildings in what appears more Hollywood set than a place of commerce.

“The downtown itself is pretty much a ghost town, with the exception of the restaurant, the bank, the gun shop and the telephone company,” Weig said. “It’s not what it used to be.”

Editor’s note: Saving Downtown is an award-winning series by freelance writer Lisa Schmelz exploring how Walworth County communities are breathing new life into their historic downtown districts. This is the fifth installment. Visit other towns in the Saving Downtown series by going online to communityshoppers.com/tag/Saving-downtown.

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Last Sunday morning, a table was hard to come by at Daddy Maxwell’s in Williams Bay. Two hours before the Packers-Bears kickoff, this igloo-shaped diner felt as crowded as Soldier Field -- provided one made the proper per-capita and square-footage adjustments and was still prone to exaggeration.

But folks here didn’t mind waiting for a table, being elbow-to-elbow at the counter or shoulder-to-shoulder along the western wall, where a row of tables overflowed with locals and weekend visitors. The mood was jovial. Conversations were a mix of politics, town gossip, including whether or not the cashier should be allowed to wear a Bears jersey in Packers country, and the glorious fall weather of the moment. There was also much pontificating as to where downtown Williams Bay started and stopped, and even more specifically, if Daddy Maxwell’s could claim to be a part of downtown Williams Bay.

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