Tag Archive | antiques

Prairie du Sac – Village on the Sauk Prairie Waterway


prairie duc sac sign eraseWelcomeEagleWatchers

Sauk Prairie Riverway sign

After our fun morning at Wollersheim Winery, we crossed the Wisconsin River to have lunch and see more of Prairie du Sac and places to shop downtown.

Wollersheim Winery main buildings IMG_2571

And of course, watch the eagles during the winter. We saw only one at Eagle Island, but it is now nesting season.

We began our visit with lunch at the Sauk Prairie Eagle Inn, our first time there.  The food was delicious and we would definitely go back!

Sauk Prairie Eagle Inn

Time to see where the locals shop!  Next door to the Eagle Inn is Sauk Prairie Power Equipment where they can repair motors for you.

Sauk Prairie Power Equipment

Across the street is Luck’s Antique Mall, where we got an early start on Christmas shopping.  Stop here to find a unique gift or antique for that special someone.  It used to be a Ford garage 100 years ago.

Luck's Antique Mall in Prairie du Sac

Luck's Antique Store Formerly Ford Garage

If you cross the street at the bridge and walk far enough, you will see a HUGE eagle mural on the back.  Artist Randy Koenecke did a great job showing off the village mascot, the American eagle. The mural was painted in 2014.

Eagle Mural in Prairie du Sac

Visit the Tripp Memorial Museum to learn more about the Sauk Prairie (Sauk City and Prairie du Sac) area.

Tripp Memorial Museum in Prairie du Sac

Buy or rent or watch the latest movies at the Bonham Theater and Video in the Bonham building. You can also get video games here.  The building might date back to the 1920’s. It has an interesting historic feature in the lower left corner above the blue door, a cornerstone that says “air-conditioned”.  Neat!

Bonham Theater in Prairie du Sac

Air Conditioned cornerstone

Be sure to take a peek on the eagle-watching platform overlooking the river.

Eagle lookout platform

Eagle lookout platform

The viewing scope is free to use, compliments of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council and other sponsors.

Viewing Scope in Prairie du Sac

The Ruth Culver Community Library is another place to seek out Sauk Prairie history if the Tripp museum isn’t open.

Ruth Culver Community Library

Sauk Prairie Bait and Tackle will take care of your fishing needs for bait and tackle.

Sauk Prairie Bait and Tackle

Two shops are in the building to the right of the tackle shop. DMarie Knit and Fiber  has great knitted gifts yarn to make your own. Also needlepoint supplies.  Prairie Pet Styles next door to get your pet groomed.

dMarie Knit and Fiber and Prairie Pet Styles

What community doesn’t have a Masonic Lodge building?

IMasonic Temple in Prairie du Sac

Another bright mural downtown brightened up an otherwise drab day.

Butterfly mural in Prairie du Sac

River Arts on Water is the community’s art gallery. It also features live performances throughout the year.

River Arts on Water

Our last stop was down by the river at the Prairie du Sac VFW Post 7694. On display is a helicopter. There is also a campground at VFW Memorial Park with 25 sites available, open seasonally.

Prairie du Sac VFW IMG_2917

Veteran's Memorial Park in Prairie du Sac

From here you could see a boat launch and the dam beyond on the Wisconsin River. It was loud today with the sound of rushing water. Saw several fishing boats too.

Dam on Wisconsin River IMG_2935

Fisherman on Wisconsin River in Prairie du Sac IMG_2933

For great shopping and eagles too, visit historic Prairie du Sac!

Downtown Prairie du Sac

Portage – Where The North Begins!

11-27-12 & 1-19-14

Portage sign

Downtown Portage

Portage is a city of 10,000 with a fascinating history going back to June 14, 1673.  Fr. Jacques Maquette and Louis Joliet “portaged” here, making their way to the upper Mississippi to map and explore.  Portage is in a unique spot, the Fox and Wisconsin rivers meet here, making it easy for explorers to go to the Mississippi from here. This settlement was dubbed “la portage” by the French, latter anglicized to Portage.

The city has many markers showing the approximate spots where  many of these events took place.  If you enter town on Hwy. 51,  you encounter a red granite monument that was dedicated in 1905. It is close to where Marquette and Joliet entered the Wisconsin River, which is across the street.

Marquette and Joliet Marker

At nearby Pauquette Park, you see the marker showing the location of the Ferry landing at the  Wisconsin river.

Ferry Landing place

Bridge over Wisconsin River

Another important historic site in Portage is the Historic Indian Agency House.  It was built by the Federal Government for John Kinzie and his wife Juliette in 1832.  It is situated at the portage point between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.  Many events take place here throughout the year, the main season between May-October 15.

Indian Agency House in Portage WI

Other historic buildings have also been preserved,  Fort Winnebago and the Surgeon’s Quarters is another seasonal site open May through October 15.

Surgeons Quarters Portage

In town there are just as many interesting sights.  Portage was also home to playwright Zona Gale. Her former home is now called Museum at the Portage and is also open seasonally.

The Zona Gale house had a fire  April 13 and is closed until further notice.

Museum at the Portage

After achieving success, she bought a home for her parents. It is now the headquarters of the Women’s Civic League of Portage.  It has been an active organization for over 80 years.

Women Civic League Gale Home

To further honor Zona Gale’s achievements,  The Zona Gale Theatre is the  arts center in Portage.  Zona was very active in Portage until her death in 1938.

Zona Gale Theatre

The museum and this house are part of the Society Hill Historic District, where the wealthy and leadership of early Portage lived.

Society Hill Historic District sign

Many of the mansions are constructed of yellow “Portage brick” , similar to the “Cream City (Milwaukee) brick from Milwaukee but made in Portage in the 19th century. Read more about this brick on pages 15-18 of this document.

Society Hill District Yellow Brick house


A historic canal also runs through Portage. It was completed in 1876, connecting the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers for easy access in town.  It now has a recreational path alongside. Friends of the Canal have been working to revitalize the area around the canal.  Look directly ahead in the photo and you see Canal Feed and Seed mill, constructed in 1861. No longer a mill, the property is now The Big Chicken Resale and antique store, since 2011.

Canal Seed and Feed 1861

All this exploring can build up an appetite!  We have enjoyed meals at three establishments in Portage. One is The Red Apple. Another is The Levee. Also the big truck stop Petro off of I-90/I-94/I-39, Exit 108A (Hwy 78S). Their Iron Skillet Restaurant is wonderful!

The Red Apple Restaurant in PortageThe Levee Restaurant in PortagePetro Iron Skillet  in Portage

It’s time to work off that great meal you ate!  In the winter, if you are into winter sports, you are close to Cascade Mountain. Its just around the bend on 90/94 if you continue past Petro. You can’t miss the large billboard on the side of one of their buildings. Here is video taken by someone snowboarding down.

Cascade Mountain sign

Cascade Mountain


Ski Hill

Cascade Mountain cut out with us

We have enjoyed our visits to Portage. Come for the sports, come for the rich history!

Related Articles and Sites

* Cascade Mountain

* City of Portage

* Chamber of Commerce

* Amtrak in Portage

* Portage Daily Register newspaper

* Museum at the Portage

* Portage WWII History Museum

* Portage Canal Society

* “La Portage” Gets a Visit From the British

* Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters

* Indian Agency House

* Gretchen Willis Photography

* Downtown Portage Walking Tour pdf

Columbus – The Red Bud City


7-4-12 & 1-16-14 & 5-5-16

Redbud Tree and City Hall and sign

Welcome to Columbus! Also known as “The City of Distinction”, this community of 4,991 has many interesting landmarks and historic structures.  Featured above is the City Hall,  built in 1892 and still serves in this capacity. The living landmark as seen in the sign above the Redbud Tree.  They provide a great color accent to the downtown and resident yards in May when they bloom.  Columbus so reveres the tree they have a festival called, “Redbud Days”.

Red Bud days sign at Library

 In 2016 we were not able to come to the festival  but we did stop in to see their beautiful red bud trees. They were EVERYWHERE.  This city really earned it’s monicker “The Red Bud City”.  The sign above was on the lawn of the Columbus Public Library. It is no ordinary library though, it’s a Carnegie Library.  We have seen those in many of the towns we have visited.

Columbus Public Library

We begin our exploration of Columbus with the historic home of former Governor James Taylor Lewis.

Governor Lewis Mansion in Columbus


Governor Lewis home side view in Columbus

Governor James Taylor Lewis marker

The mansion is located in a historic district and we took a look at the other beautiful houses on this block and nearby.  Across the street on 147 North Lewis is the Wheeler House, 1870.  Louis Sullivan stayed here while the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank was being built.  President Taft once made a speech from the front balcony of this house too.

Wheeler house in Columbus IMG_6969

The Bellack House, 1897.

Bellack House 1897 IMG_6976

The beautiful Farnham House from 1867 dominates the corner on 553 West James St.

Farnham House IMG_6964

This is the Queen Anne/Tudor Revival House on 314 South Charles, built in 1900.

Chadborne House 1929 IMG_6930

This house that looks like a castle is the Albrech House on 334 South Ludington, built in 1930.  There are a great many more houses, be sure to get the guide book in the Farmers bank to find them all!

Albrech House 1930 IMG_7046

On a hill across the street from the Governor’s mansion is the Columbus historic Chapel Street Water tower,  a prominent landmark.

Columbus Historic Water tower


The whole downtown is a designated Historic District.  This fact did not escape Hollywood. They chose to film part of the movie “Public Enemies”, released in 2009. Here is a corner panorama of these beautiful buildings.

Downtown Columbus corner panorama

The Farmers and Merchants Union Bank is a special centerpiece of Columbus. It is only one of 8 “Jewel Box” banks in the entire United States designed by Louis Sullivan.  The outside of the bank was also featured in the movie Public Enemies. The inside was breathtaking!  One of the associates who was worked there a long time, Anita, gave us a tour of the bank!  On the upper floor is a small museum of bank artifacts.  We found out the beautiful molded “stonework” on the outside is terra cotta, less expensive than carved stonework.  The water fountain no longer works but it is still beautiful.

Farmers and Merchants Union Bank in Columbus

Farmers and Merchants Bank plaque


Farmer and Merchant Bank plaque in Columbus

The meeting room.

Farmers and Merchants Union Bank meeting room

Lobby and museum in Historic Mezzanine.

Farmers and Merchants Bank in Columbus collage

The bank also sells a few souveniers to visitors.  You can find the list next to the lamp that Louis Sullivan presented to the bank upon completion. We got the Columbus History and Architecture Tour booklet for $3, proceeds benefiting the Columbus Historical Society.  Thanks Anita for the great tour!

Louis Sullivan Bank gift lamp

A monument across from City Hall pays homage to Civil War soldiers.

Civil War Memorial in Columbus IMG_7274

A piece of personal history, the Town Tap was one of the sponsors of my husband’s sister’s Softball team in the 1970’s.

Town Tap in Columbus

Joretta Town Tap Columbus Softball Team

Kurth Brewery  building is also a landmark here.  They no longer brew beer but its still owned by the family and run a small bar and restaurant there.  The brewery burned down on July 20, 1916 and was not rebuilt. Prohibition began in 1919 and that didn’t help in trying to recover either.   They are open Wednesday and Friday evening from 6-10:30 PM only.

Kurth Brewery building IMG_7090

Kurth Brewery sign in Columbus

Kurth Brewery

The John Henry Kurth House on 902 Park is a 1897 Queen Anne style home.

John Henry Kurth House in Columbus

Columbus is known for its great shopping also, especially antiques.  The largest store in Wisconsin is here, the Columbus Antique Mall, a former canning factory. They are open 8-4 daily, and feature the Christopher Columbus Museum.

Columbus Antique Store Museum

Many artifacts in the museum, including models of the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. Also, 18 rooms of antiques for sale.  Get there early to see everything, the place is HUGE!


Columbus Antique Mall inside

We had a great July 4th there in 2012.   People liked getting dressed in their patriotic finest.  We had our picture with this man we met there just before the parade.  The celebration was held at Fireman’s Park afterwards. Lots of fun.  The historic Park Pavilion is 100 years old in 2016.

July 4 in Columbus Patriotic guy

Fireman's Park in Columbus 7-4-12

Columbus also has one of the few Amtrak train stations in Wisconsin.  It once was the Milwaukee Railroad Depot. When we visited in 2016 we were lucky enough to see the train stop by.  The depot was built in 1906. It was the 2nd depot built in Columbus. Notice the brick path?  They may have been laid there at the same time this depot built.  The company that made these brick pavers may have been Purington Brickyard in East Galesburg, IL.  The company that reclaims some of these historic bricks is  Gavin Historical Bricks. Not longer in production since the invention of concrete and asphalt, find these originals over a century old was a great find!  See them close up..

Columbus Amtrak Depot

Purington Brickyard path at Columbus Train Station

Inside the depot are benches from the 1930’s or 40’s.

Amtrak Depot 1930's benches

The ticket window at the front of the room.

Amtrak Depot in Columbus ticket window

The schedule, not much but better than nothing.  At least you can get to St. Paul or Chicago. From there you can connect to other trains going to points elsewhere.

Amtrak Schedule in Columbus

Just a little further down the track is the original depot, built in 1864. It was used for both freight and passengers before the newer one was built.

1864 Columbus depot

We also enjoyed a great Mexican meal at The Columbus Family Restaurant on our 2014 visit.  Our dinners were delicious, it was hard to choose since the menu was quite large.

Columbus Family Restaurant

Also stop at Apple Tree Family Restaurant, it is across the street from Kurth’s. We had a great meal there in 2016 and plan on returning.

Big Apple Tree Family Restaurant in ColumbusBig Apple Tree Family Restaurant sign in Columbus

If you want to cook at home, Columbus also has a Pick n’ Save right off the 151 exit.

Pick n' Save grocery in Columbus

Discover Columbus!  They have it all:  great shopping, rich history and friendly people. Stop by!

Columbus Water Tower 2016