Watertown is a city of 23,000 with a rich history carefully preserved. It was founded by Timothy Johnson. He arrived at the Watertown site 12-10-1836. He also co-founded nearby Johnson Creek. If you are heading to Watertown from the west, at Rest Area 13, where you can see a historical marker describing hills left by the glaciers called Drumlins.
German immigrants built many of the historic buildings all over town. It’s home to the famous Octagon House (shaped like a stop sign), built prior to the Civil War. The house is now the base of operations for the Watertown Historical Society, and is open for tours April to October, and some special events Nov-March.
Also on site is the first Kindergarten in the US. The white building is behind the Octagon House along with the an early settler’s farm, both restored. Watertown has many brochures for self-guided walking tours available.
A marker commemorating this school is on the side of the building.
The red barn also has a marker.
We also paid our respects at Memorial Park, where a tall Civil War Monument stands, erected in 1899. Also more recent monuments to soldiers in more recent wars.
The downtown is quite beautiful too. Be sure to stop by the Chamber of Commerce if they are open.
The beautiful Watertown Public Library, the present building in use since June 14, 1907.
The Cole Memorial Bridge is the centerpiece of downtown, the Rock River runs under it.
We also discovered this site was also important during the Black Hawk War of 1832.
Many murals also adorn the sides of many buildings highlighting Watertown’s early history. Here is a pretty circus mural, picture taken in 2010. It is somewhat obscured now by the business occupying the building.
Watertown is known also for many buildings constructed of brick made from a special light color clay found near Milwaukee. Because the clay was so plentiful, Milwaukee was dubbed “Cream City” The Octagon House is built from this brick.
We have also enjoyed patronizing some of the great businesses here. Berres Brothers Coffee Roasters is our favorite place for the best coffee ever! Not just coffee but a cafe serving breakfast and lunch.
Another great place is Mullen’s Dairy Bar downtown.
Another favorite place is Glenn’s Market and Catering. They make their own meat products and so much more! Even have a selection of gluten-free products. We highly recommend stopping here for your grilling and party needs!
We also enjoy shopping at the Bethesda Thrift Store when we stop in Watertown. We always find great stuff here!
Photo by Bethesda
Across the street from Glenn’s is the former Railroad depot, now Garden Path Floral Garden and Gifts.
If you look right of the depot, you see an impressive large building up on a hill. It’s Maranatha Baptist University, since 1968. One hundred years earlier in 1872, it was Sacred Heart College, then Sacred Heart Military Academy in 1955. Read about the early history here.
There is much more to learn in Watertown and will be back again soon!