"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Al and I were in Verona, gathering photos for a blog post. We took a look at the businesses and buildings in town and discovered this. The Matts House in Verona, Wisconsin was vacant at that time and deemed an eyesore. It was one of the last historic buildings in town, built in the 1840’s. The only other building that is historic that is left is the Cahoots Bar, a former Stagecoach stop.
In my photo, you could see a sign that the house was for free to anyone who could get rid of it. Thank goodness, nobody took up the offer.
We were shocked to see this and hoped somebody would save the house before possible demolition.
Two years pass. Building Rehabilitation Specialist Troy Rost persuaded the city alders to sell him the house for $1. Troy also restored the Stamm House in Middleton as well. He promised to have the house ready for occupation within two years. Read the article about this development here. Also here.
October 19, 2017
The renovation was well underway at this point, we stopped by to take an interim picture of the house.
We attended a meeting in Verona that day called “What’s Up at the Matts House?” Here is a video of the meeting you can also watch. It outlines the history of the house and showed some renovation photos. Troy Rost himself was the presenter.
The building renovation is finished on schedule. Now, the next task is to find a tenant. The Purple Goose women’s boutique store jumped at the chance to move to this beautiful historical building. This was their building in 2017.
On October 13 of 2018, they reopened in their new building to an enthusiastic crowd. I was able to see it for myself on October 22nd. Very impressive!
This beautiful door is possibly from one of the previous businesses here, they kept it and it looks beautiful!
To the right of the register, step through the doorway for some beauty time at Makeup by Francesca. I am not skilled at all with makeup application. I will come here if I need her help! Francesca Clemente will bring out your best features to look your best, whatever the occasion!
Everyone interested in seeing the Matts House is welcome during business hours at The Purple Goose. The citizens of Verona are grateful this beautiful building was saved for all to enjoy. Thank you, Troy Rost, for taking charge and turning this dream into reality!
We had just recently heard the news that Yerkes Observatory will be closing on October 1st of this year and knew we had to hurry back to take another tour before they ended. The news had just been announced a week or two earlier.
My first visit was actually in 6th grade in February 1977. Here is a picture I took then.
We went together for the first time in 2012. Richard Dreiser has been giving almost all of the tours since 1980, 38 years! Six years later, he said he remembered us and was happy to see us again. He is really nice and we will miss him. He is writing a book though about Yerkes so we look forward to getting that when it’s published.
It wasn’t really crowded since the news only just came out about the closure a week or so earlier. We heard that the tour groups in September were quite large. We could look around the hallway shortly before the tour started.
The back of the hallway was cordoned off, it wasn’t in 2012. Let’s see what is back there.
Richard began by showing some beautiful photos taken by the Yerkes telescope and others in the hallway adjacent to the lobby.
After discussing these photos, we then moved out to the lobby. It is quite beautiful, decorated with terracotta accents, marble floor and a skylight in the ceiling. The light fixtures are original too. The building was officially opened in 1897.
Under the skylight.
Richard pointed out the many features in the decorative artwork of the building in the lobby area. Faces, angels, and owls abound!
We then moved outside, where Richard pointed out the many distinguishing features in the artwork on the columns and above the door. Art is everywhere at this building, something you don’t see anymore.
Then, we went back in and concluded the tour at the big telescope. We could not go up on the platform on this visit.
Yerkes had been visited by many scientists, including Albert Einstein in this group photo taken in the 20’s.
We all got a special treat that most people don’t get to see, the dome rotating (see video at 48:33). He went to the console on the right side of the dome and made the adjustments.
Laurie Kutil 2012
Our tour came to a conclusion 10 minutes later, Richard spent the remaining time answering questions. Went back down the stairs.
Saw the library and stopped in the gift shop.
Our visit concluded here. We are sad this valuable resource is no longer a part of the University in Chicago. However, it may reopen again at later date under new ownership. I will update this post if this happens. We hope Richard will be hired to continue his excellent tours. Meanwhile, enjoy the video of the original tour.
The last time we were in Columbus for July 4th was in 2012 so we decided to go back. The parade started at noon and it was wonderful! It lasted nearly two hours. The Parade Marshalls. (click to enlarge)
Watch it here.
After the parade we headed to Fireman’s Park where all of the festivities were taking place. There was a carnival also, Mr. Ed’s Magical Midways.
The main attraction that drew us here was the First Brigade Band from Watertown. They were in the parade. They are a Civil War-era band, complete with instruments that were played in the 1860’s. We knew about them but never saw them perform before. See them below.
At this point, rain was threatening. The next show was Ballet Folkloriko Mexico. They were also really good, but it began to rain half-way through their performance and they had to cut it short. They had someone also getting video, but they had to stop because of the rain. I held my hat over my camera to keep it dry! You can see my video below.
And that was the conclusion of our July 4th celebration in Columbus. We had a wonderful time here today! Let freedom ring!
Our last old-fashioned picture was in 2008, also on Broadway but not here. It was at Professor Samuel S. Porter’s Old-Time Portraits.
To treat ourselves for our 19th wedding anniversary that occurred the day before, we arranged to get a tintype picture at the famous H.H. Bennett Studio on Broadway in the Wisconsin Dells. Our Photographer was David Rambow, expert in wet-plate photography since 2001. He is also Site Director for Wisconsin Historic Sites under the umbrella of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. We booked it well in advance at the H.H. Bennett website, deposit is $50. From there you can choose your package and complete your payment during your sitting.
We arrived at 10:30 for our 11 AM sitting, ready to be impressed! I had picked out clothing we had that looked sufficiently “period”, late 1800’s. My lace collar that I wore over my blouse was crocheted by my Grandma Tauchen when they were in style in the 1980’s!
Dave greeted us warmly and invited us to the very studio where Bennett made the Dells famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is how the backdrop looks in color.
Behind the chairs are head braces to help you hold still while the picture is taken. This is a long exposure photo. The darker the studio, the longer the exposure. Since it was a bright sunny day, it only took 6 seconds.
Photographer Robert Squires was there too and documented our visit. Thanks for the great photo! He got a picture of Dave installing the prepared wet plate into the camera. It takes 3-minutes to get it camera-ready after exposure to the chemicals. There is no going back once it is preparing!
Dave graciously allowed us to shoot video of getting our photo “struck” so we could show everyone how it’s done! See it below.
We had a great time doing this amazing photo, and they said Al looked like a Civil War vet. We were sent a digital copy ahead of the photo that would be sent in the mail to us.
On August 1st we received our photo in the mail. It was varnished to help protect it from scratches. It was beautiful! On the back was David’s info about the photo.
Also some information on how the photo was made.
I already had a frame to put the photo into that looked good with it.
Don’t pass up your opportunity to get a tintype photo taken by David at THE H.H. Bennett Studio!
Today was a special day in the Village of Oregon. Oregon is a big believer in preserving their heritage and history. They proved that again by not tearing down their historic “Tin Man” water tower. Instead, they chose to restore it and light it up! Tonight is the inaugural lighting of this Oregon landmark. The Pump House below the tower was previously restored and now the tower is too! It was also open that evening.
Before that, it was time to enjoy a concert by the Oregon Community Band. It takes place at Waterman Triangle Park downtown. They have entertained Oregon since 1981. Jim Baxter is the current Conductor.
Enjoy the concert too! At the end of the show, the Tin Man Water Tower’s lights were turned on for the first time!
A beautiful evening in Oregon, Wisconsin. This community preserves their history in a way that all can enjoy.
Winter Hours: From September through May we are open by appointment only.
This was the building in 2016.
The building in 2017/18.
Since we were here for the Big Top Circus Parade, learning more about the history of clowns was a great addition to the day. We could tell by the entryway it was going to be a fun visit! Tours are conducted daily at 2 June through August.
Inside is a large room with displays dedicated to famous clown past and almost present.
The clown giving the tour was talking about the clown’s roles in history and even had some artifacts from their performance days.
Bobo‘s tiny clown car, I don’t know how he got into that!
My visits to the former Sear’s Tower began the year the skydeck was open for viewing in 1974 when I was 7. It opened on June 22 and we went that fall. It is on the 103rd floor. I don’t remember a lot, but my grandparents Norm and Barb Braton came along and grandpa filmed some of the view out of the North-facing windows. This is the Lake Point Tower Condominiums building on the right side of the photo. This photo is composed of two frames of the Super 8 film. It was color but it was inconsistent so I changed it to monochrome. The reason why this view is significant is because it was where Al’s Mom would be living in the late 70’s-early 80’s. As you see, there are no buildings around it YET.
See the video in its entirety.
Photographer Jack Bradley took this photo from the tower in 1975.
Here is another view of the city from the 1970’s from a postcard taken from that era-Phil Valzez.
Cost of admission in 1977, probably the same in 1974. Found in this 1977 guide published by the Chicago Tribune.
The button was my souvenir from then.
10-17-03 29 years later…
Still the Sears Tower until 2009. This time, Al and I went alone. We got more photos this time. They also had a very nice brochure on cardstock. For some reason I don’t have a lot of memories from this visit.
Prices that year.
A couple displays on the walls.
The Northwest view.
Revisiting the Lakepoint Condo viewpoint, much more built up now around it. You can see another building going up nearby.
The clover leaf on the East-facing side.
1-30-18 15 Years later…
It took awhile but we finally made it back. This time we did a day trip. We took the Metra commuter train in from Harvard, IL at 5:47 AM. We learned in advance Tuesdays are often the slowest days and be there when they open the doors at 9:30 AM. I recommend monitoring the Skydeck Chicago-Willis Tower page on Tripadvisor. We knew the express elevators were not in use so waits might be longer.
They opened promptly at 10:00. We put our stuff through the security check then went to get our tickets, general admission. I have no photos on this area since they were prohibited. Prices have really risen in 15 years. Of course, different ownership too.
The brochure as it looks now, no longer on cardstock, just glossy paper.
On your way to the elevator, they take your picture in front of a green screen with the option to buy before your exit or online. This is what it looks like, we didn’t get this one.
We got in line quick, aware of the growing crowd behind us. You can also see an informational 9-minute movie about the tower called “Reaching the Sky” before going up.
We were in the first elevator(s) up! The views were just as incredible as we remembered, and there were more towers built or being built.
We revisit the Northwest view. That tall silver building in the middle is the Trump Tower. Construction began in 2005, completed in 2008.
And back to the Lake Point condo building. A new skyscraper is going up on the left!
The biggest change at the tower since 2003 is the installation of The Ledge™. It’s a reinforced glass “box” that extends outside beyond the other windows. The view was incredible in there, you either feel like a bird or queasy. Al and I did it and felt fine! This picture was taken by another visitor. You are facing East.
Looking at another ledge from inside.
And down. You can see where we entered the building.
View of the ledge boxes from the ground, how tiny they look!
This is the same side as the clover leaf we saw in 2003. Let’s take a new look.
One of the most interesting buildings we saw was the MCC Jailhouse Skyscraper. Even the jails are tall here and saw a volleyball game played by the inmates on the roof. It holds 681. This is on the West-facing side. Apparently it’s hard to see from the ground.
Other skyline views. This is the Chicago north side. That cone-shaped object in the upper left corner is the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. It is 16 miles north of here.
We have been up in the tower for about two hours now, it was nearly 12:30. It was time to go see more of Chicago since we had to be back on the train at 3:30. We could not resist getting a copy of the picture the staff took on the Ledge™.
Enjoy video of our visit!
Blackstone? Tower future
The tower had been sold to the Blackstone Group in March of 2015, though you could not tell that yet on the outside. In the near future it will be undergoing some renovations to make it a more welcoming place to visitors. Perhaps in 7 or 8 years, we will be back to see this 3rd incarnation of Chicago’s largest office building.