NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Historic Homes Walk in Lake Geneva's Maple Park District

As I mentioned before, I've been walking around the historic neighborhoods of Lake Geneva on my lunch breaks this past week. I discovered there are quite a few historic homes in what the Lake Geneva Historic Commission calls the Maple Park District. The Commission presented historic plaques to over 120 buildings in the city to encourage a renewed interest in restoring homes and commercial buildings in the community. The plaques were what first caught my eye while walking, and then I kept an eye out for more. The earliest date I saw was 1852 on my walk. The city also has 7 buildings listed on the National and State registers.

Before you enjoy the lovely architectural details I captured on my lunch hour, here's a quick background of the settlement of this neighborhood which I borrowed from the Commission's website: 

Following the Black Hawk War of 1831-32  many Indians in Wisconsin were removed by the United States Army to Kansas.   A questionable treaty agreement with our local Potawatomis in 1833 laid the foundation for the eviction of Chief Big Foot and his tribe in 1836.  Once the power of water was harnessed by the first settlers, flour and wool carding mills were built.   The 14 foot drop of water provided the most economical milling, and farmers brought their grain to Lake Geneva from as far away as Kenosha, Milwaukee, Belvidere, and Beloit.  The town was surveyed and laid out in 1837.  Earlier land prices were $1.25 per acre. Immigrant settlers from New England and New York flooded into the town.  Most came via the Erie Canal and steamboat or sailing ships through the Great Lakes, disembarking at Southport (Kenosha) or Milwaukee.  Others trudged through the swamps and forest of Southern Michigan, Northern Ohio and Indiana.  By 1840, there were two hotels, two general stores, three churches, and a distillery added to the mills, cabins and houses. In the years leading up to the civil war, Lake Geneva was on the route to the Great Lake ports for slaves escaping from Southern Illinois and Kentucky.   In the early 1870's two events shaped the future of our community:  The Great Chicago Fire and the arrival of the railroad.  Wealthy families, seeking refuge as Chicago was being rebuilt, constructed palatial lakefront "cottages" on Geneva Lake.  As this wave of affluence settled over the lake, Geneva (the early name of the village) became known as the "Newport (RI) of the West".   Visitors included Mary Todd Lincoln and Generals Sherman and Sheridan.  Over the years well known families such as Maytag and Wrigley developed summer estates on the shores of Geneva Lake.

I can't wait until the hydrangea turns color!

If you live in Wisconsin in an older home that was part of an architectural survey it may be recorded on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website and you can do your own research. This beauty below is for sale if you'd like a historic Lake Geneva home of your own. I couldn't find it on the realtors website, but it seems the homes in this neighborhood run from 200 to 400 thousand dollars. Or if you'd like one of the homes I saw on the lake shore path walk, just gather together a little over a million and you too can have strangers walking across your patio all summer long!


  1. Homes like these in northern California would go for no less than a half a mill...and those are the fixer-uppers.

    1. Good thing I'm not planning on buying any real estate in California! You can buy a home like one of these in other "non-resort" towns in Wisconsin for half the price of the ones in Lake Geneva! Now Illinois is another story...