Hidden Gems of Cedarburg


Hi Friends!

On our recent visit to the quiet town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, we explored Washington Avenue from top to bottom, soaking up all of its friendly, festive, Christmas charm. As darkness fell, the tiny, white lights and buildings decked in fresh evergreen garlands gave this peaceful, historic town a truly magical, holiday feeling. We were looking forward to one more day to explore!

The next morning, after a thoroughly enjoyable, leisurely breakfast conversing with the innkeeper at The Stagecoach Inn B&B, we set off to explore three of the hidden gems of Cedarburg. These treasures helped us to reflect on more simple thymes…


Cedarburg is home to the last remaining Covered Bridge in Wisconsin. Just imagine how many wagons and cars traversed this pine bridge from 1876 until 1962.


Now retired, this covered bridge is enjoyed by pedestrians who come to experience this nostalgic part of our history. Today it is surrounded by a lovely park on both banks of the river. It is a joy to behold throughout the changing seasons!


As we walked across this historic bridge, we lingered to admire the beauty of its construction.


We also pondered some of the reasons why covered bridges were built in the early days.  There is still much speculation about the reasons for this type of bridge construction among historians and history buffs. A popular theory is that the bridges were covered to protect these wooden structures from the weather. Protecting the wood from exposure to rain, snow, ice, and sun allowed bridges to last much longer.

Covered bridges also helped the cattle to cross the river, without being frightened by the sight of the fast moving water below.  When frightened by the water, the cattle might hesitate to cross the bridge or they may have stampeded across the bridge. Some towns fined travelers if their horses or cattle stampeded across bridges, due to the damage they might cause. Some historians say that the shape of the covered bridges might look like barns to the cattle, so they would enter them more easily.

Covered bridges also gave passengers a dry place take shelter during rainstorms and snowstorms. Engineers say that the roof and walls helped to strengthen the structure. Have you heard any other stories about the reasons bridges were covered? Today the remaining covered bridges offer a lovely, romantic glimpse into life in simpler thymes!

Cedar Creek Settlement

As we meandered through the shops and studios in the historic Cedar Creek Settlement, we discovered another hidden gem. Climbing the time-worn, wooden stairs in this former woolen mill built in 1864, we spent time in several antique shops within the thick stone walls of the settlement. We stopped in our tracks as we entered

A Room to Explore: Tribal Accents and Antiques,

tucked away on the third floor. What had we found? Oh my!

Gallery owners Mark and Mary Jo Wentzel are sharing their lifetime passion of African cultures and arts with the fortunate visitors who enter their shop. They are offering artifacts from many different tribal areas of Africa.


We spoke at length with Mark Wentzel about his time spent teaching at the University of Sierra Leone years ago. Over the years, he returned to Africa many, many times leading groups of student volunteers to help in tribal areas.


Along with the one-of-a-kind tribal artifacts for sale, Mark had amazing stories to share about each piece. As he taught us about these special artifacts, Mark often pulled out old photographs taken long ago with the tribal artisans who created these pieces. Oh, the stories Mark can share with the fortunate visitors to this special shop!


A Room to Explore is filled with the cultural artifacts and antiques Mark has collected over the past 40 years, including masks, statues, baskets, books, textiles, and lithographs. Mark Wentzel is a respected presenter and appraiser on African arts. He has donated so many artifacts to the collections of three universities. His expertise and passion for tribal artifacts is a true gem! We were so grateful for the fascinating stories that Mark shared with us!


An old schoolhouse filled with handmade quilts, be still my heart! 

From 1887 until 1958, Hamilton School was a busy place to learn and grow. The learning continues within these walls even today. Ye Olde Schoolhouse Quilt Shop, in historic Cedarburg, Wisconsin is a true handmade hidden gem!


This treasure of a shop specializes in reproduction fabrics. They offer an amazing variety of patterns, threads, stitchery kits, books, magazines, and notions. Friendly assistance, encouragement, and a warm welcome help make this quilt shop extra special. The Gathering Place, on the lower level, is a wonderful haven for quilters to learn, grow, and share with one another.


Although I am not a quilter, I love and appreciate quilts of all kinds. I could spend hours studying the patterns, colors, and stitches on these beautiful, handmade treasures. Certainly, this will inspire more pieced-paper ‘quilts’ on my handmade cards!


As we walked through the old schoolhouse, our thoughts turned to much simpler thymes. Old photos of the former students reminded us of the proud history of this little school. Just imagine the teacher ringing the school bell each morning, calling the students to come here to learn. Even today, this little schoolhouse continues to be a wonderful place of learning!

Ye Olde Schoolhouse Quilt Shop, a true hidden gem near the banks of Cedar Creek, was a perfect last stop on our wonderful visit to Cedarburg. It helped to ‘stitch’ together all of the wonderful, heartwarming memories we made during our Cedarburg celebration! We are already looking forward to our next visit!

What hidden gems have you discovered  lately?

We would love to hear about them!

Take time to explore!

♡ Dawn

P.S.   Thank you so much for taking the time to stop and visit today! ♡ The simple pleasures help make life oh-so-sweet!



10 thoughts on “Hidden Gems of Cedarburg

  1. I have just loved this trip to Cedarburg you have taken us on. I must go there someday! The door to the woolen mill speaks to me. I would probably have stood there just staring at it!! And who doesn’t love a covered bridge. I am surprised there is only one remaining covered bridge in Wisconsin. I have pictures of one in Pennsylvania near where my mother grew up. I don’t think I ever thought about why they were covered!
    Merry Christmas Dawn!

    Chris W

    • Oh, thank you, dear Chris! Cedarburg holds a very special place in my heart! I’m so happy to share this delightful place with everyone. The door of the woolen mill holds so much history. Just imagine all of the stories inside! Walking through the covered bridge connected us with its long history and charm. Hope you had a wonderful time in Ohio, sharing a special piece of your own family history, Chris! Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas! ♡

  2. I am entranced by covered bridges, Dawn. Knowing now that there is one relatively close in Cedarburg is enticing, as is Cedarburg itself, so well presented in your previous blog and this one. Enchanting is a better word. Enchanting.
    I would love the museum. This smaller, local museums hold so much history/artifacts/and knowledgeable docents. Mark Wentzel seems remarkable. How fortunate that he was there.
    Don’t you love how old schoolhouses are used, especially in areas such as Cedarburg. The small school Tom’s mother attended in Ohio is an antique mall. We had such fun visiting there a few years ago on our way back from the East Coast. Oh, Dawn, you’ve awakened the wanderlust in me. As it is, right now I’m just keeping the home fires burning – and the oven on baking. 🙂 I can report a hidden gem in Downers Grove; the Tivoli Theater. We went there to see It’s A Wonderful Life, which I may have mentioned, for my birthday. It is a magnificently refurbished theater. If you haven’t been, you should We also walked around the corner to see historic hotel, which is still in operation, with cubby holes for keys and a charm, charm, charm.
    Merry Christmas, Dawn.

    • Heartfelt thanks, Penny! I think you would love a visit to Cedarburg. It’s an easy two-hour drive. I’ve been visiting there for annual day trips with friends for about 30 years. Spending the night was the perfect opportunity to explore more of the town and its hidden gems! Although it looks like a museum, Mark’s gallery is actually a shop and he is selling his precious African artifacts. It was just wonderful to hear his stories about these very special pieces of tribal art. He had so many photos to show us of his time in Africa and the villages where he was given these pieces of art. Much of his collection has been donated to university museums. He is now selling from his personal collection of African artifacts. Several times during our visit to his shop, I encouraged Mark to begin blogging his stories! They are so fascinating!

      Old schoolhouses hold such a special place in my heart! I visit them whenever I have the chance. An old schoolhouse filled with handmade quilts is so wonderful. I just discovered this hidden gem three years ago. It’s less than 5 minutes away from the main historic district in Cedarburg, and well worth a visit as you leave town! There are nearby quilt museums in the area, too. Cedarburg has an active fiber-arts community.

      Thank you so much for sharing your hidden gems, Penny! I will make it a point to visit the Tivoli soon. The historic hotel around the corner is also a must-see! Enjoy your holiday baking! I’m sure your kitchen smells heavenly. 🙂 It’s such a blessing to be home during the holidays. Soon our homes will be filled with dear family visitors! Cherish every moment! Warm hugs, Penny! ♡

  3. Dawn, the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce should thank you for your wonderful writings about their beautiful town. It would be lovely to visit there someday. I love covered bridges and when we are in New England we always seek them out. When Samuel was small we would take a day and visit as many as we could. I’m facinated by the structures and the engineering that is involved in these old bridges. There is so much wood that goes into the building of them.
    The African artifact shop is amazing. How nice you were able to chat with the collector and hear his stories. He should share his stories on a blog!
    The schoolhouse must have been thrilling for you to visit. Being a teacher, I know you can appreciate the changes that the classroom has had over the years. Now that it is a quilt shop adds to its charm. I love seeing all the work that is put into a quilt. They are truly labors of love. I’ve only done small quilted pillows and certainly admire all the stitching that one much put into these works of art.
    Have a wonderful, joy filled week, my friend! ♥

    • So sweet, Martha Ellen! Cedarburg is one of those special places that I have visited each Christmas season for about 30 years. We drove there the very first time for a Christmas in the Country folk art fair… and I don’t think my friends and I have missed a quick Christmas visit to Cedarburg ever since! 🙂 The little town has seen many changes over the years, but it has truly preserved its friendly, welcoming Christmasy spirit. It was extra-special to share one of my favorite places with my husband this year!! Staying overnight in the B&B (and later discovering the amazing serendipty of our room) gave us more time to explore these hidden gems!

      We stood on the covered bridge for a long time admiring its design and thinking about its long history. I’m so glad that it has been preserved and is now surrounded by a pretty park. We also spent a great deal of time talking with Mark, the collector of these fascinating Aftrican tribal artifacts. He is so passionate about these special pieces that he brought back from his work and travels in Africa. Let’s hope that one day he will decide to document his stories on a blog of his own!

      I long to visit every old schoolhouse that I have heard about. I have even dreamed of living in an old schoolhouse! Of course, I would hang quilts from the walls!So it is lots of fun to visit Ye Olde Schoolhouse. Last year, I discovered Punch Needle embroidery while visiting there! I have never attempted to quilt myself. I watched my mom make a quilt and quilt pillows while I was growing up. I love to admire all of the tiny stitches, the colors and patterns that make each quilt a unique piece of art. Do you have a favorite quilt pattern, Martha Ellen? ‘Grandmother’s Flower Garden’ is my favorite pattern. I also love, love, love Amish quilts!

      Thank you so much for coming along with us to Cedarburg during December! Cherish all of the special moments with your family this week, dear Martha Ellen! ♡

    • Many thanks, Karen! Our innkeeper at the B&B shared such interesting information about covered bridges when we told him we wanted to find the Cedarburg covered bridge. We learned so much! It was only a five minute drive from the historic main street in town. As we walked across the crunchy, frozen, frosty grass in the park that morning, we were so happy to visit our first historic, covered bridge together! I hope these special parts of American history will always be preserved. So happy that you stopped to visit today. Sending warm hugs for a wonderful holiday in sunny California, Karen! ♡

  4. WordPress is just not playing nicely with me so I hope this shows up! I love this sort of place to visit. It is almost like a living museum. {as an aside, I loved Colonial Williamsburg and went there many times between 1985~87} The African artefacts, while fascinating, aren’t my cup of tea, but oh! my heart sings at the sight of the quilts and that delicious fabric underneath, which I presume is for sale? {my thoughts are wandering to my stash~~~}
    Such a treat to be able to walk over that covered bridge, and I am so happy it is now preserved and conserved for the future. I suddenly have a hankering to go find my photographs of Colonial Williamsburg again ~~~ Deb xoxo

    WordPress.com / Gravatar.com credentials can be used.

    • So glad you were able to visit and comment today, Deb! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! 🙂 We were so happy to discover all of these special places in Cedarburg. There is so much interesting history here. It is so wonderful that so much has been preserved in this small Wisconsin town. We loved the chance to visit this beautiful covered bridge, adding our footsteps to all those who came before us. It was truly fascinating to learn some of the stories of these African artifacts. The shop owner shared many of his personal photos taken while teaching and volunteering in Africa. What a great learning opportunity! Oh, Deb, you would have been in heaven in this quilt shop! They sell everything a quilter needs, offer helpful assistance, and have a wonderful work space for quilters downstairs. The school house setting is a real treasure. Your cherished memories of Colonial Williamsburg must be so sweet! A visit to Colonial Williamsburg is tugging on my heartstrings. I must return for another visit soon! Wishing you a wonderful start to the New Year, dear Deb! Sending warm hugs Across The Pond! ♡

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.