Journey to the past among Old World’s historic buildings
More than 120 years old, Clausing Barn is among the historic buildings that help tell the stories of Wisconsin’s pioneer past at Old World Wisconsin. Photo by S. Johnson/courtesy of Old World Wisconsin
EAGLE — Did you know that Old World Wisconsin is home to more than 60 historic buildings? Most of these buildings came to Old World Wisconsin in the 1970s and 1980s from various locations around Wisconsin. In most instances, they were painstakingly taken apart brick by brick or log by log, transported and reassembled, much like putting together an intricate puzzle. Of course, the bricks and boards were numbered so it was not a guessing game. Nonetheless, this process was no quick or easy task.
St. Peter’s Church is one of the oldest buildings at Old World Wisconsin. Originally called St. Luke’s, it was built in Milwaukee in 1839. This historic building was Milwaukee’s first Catholic church. As the Catholic population in Milwaukee grew, the building became obsolete. It is a simple building with elements of Greek Revival and Gothic architectural style.
The iconic Clausing Barn now houses the Café at Old World Wisconsin and a banquet space that hosts many events each year. This building was one of 14 octagonal barns built by Ernst Clausing. Built in 1897 within one mile of the Lake Michigan shoreline, the structure’s design made it capable of withstanding the fierce winds that blew off the lake.
These buildings are not just rigid structures that need continuous care, they are portals that transport guests back in time. They set the stage, tell a story and create a space for historic exploration to begin. Discussions about the resilient people who built and lived in these buildings are encouraged by facilitators who not only give facts, but paint a picture of life in the past. Often guests are able to make connections to their own family history within these carefully preserved walls.
If you love historic buildings, join us June 22 for our Sunset Soiree — an enchanted evening celebrating historic restoration at Old World Wisconsin. For tickets, go online to oldworldfoundation.org.
For information about visiting these buildings at Old World Wisconsin this season, go online to oldworldwisconsin.org
(Gwen Griffin is the executive director of Old World Foundation.)