Hidden Gems of Cedarburg

DSCN6601

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…

DSCN6589

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.

DSCN6580

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!

DSCN6583

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

DSCN6586

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.

DSCN6514

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.

DSCN6515

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!

DSCN6516

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!

DSCN6630

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!

DSCN6619

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.

DSCN6623

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!

DSCN2120

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!

 

A Cedarburg Celebration

 

DSCN6491

Hi Friends!

Treasured gifts don’t always come in packages tied with ribbons and bows. Many of my most treasured gifts come filled with memories and tied with heartstrings! Each year, when it’s time to plan a birthday celebration, my wish is always the same… I just love to make special birthday memories by visiting an old-fashioned place filled with the magic of Christmas!

The twinkle of tiny, white lights, the scent of evergreen boughs, the sounds of Christmas music, and the jingle of bells always bring these cherished memories to life. Very often, softly falling snowflakes add to the magic.  Most years, my memories come from charming, small towns nearby, but milestone birthdays hold some special Christmas-y memories made in wonderful, far off places.

We just returned from one of our sweetest birthday celebrations, filled with the most wonderful memories! Historic Cedarburg, Wisconsin has always been one of my favorite Midwest destinations. For decades, dear friends and I have been coming to visit this charming, small town in the heartland of America. What a special gift it was this year to travel there with my husband, and to experience this special place, for the first time, through his eyes! It was such fun to share this piece of my heart with him! 

DSCN6615

Walking along Washington Avenue, I am always filled with admiration for the historic, wooden homes and stone buildings that hold so much history here in Cedarburg.

DSCN6548

Settled by Irish and German immigrants in 1845, along the banks of Cedar Creek, this small town has a very proud history. Over the years, the village grew as five mills were built along the creek. The need for workers attracted people from Milwaukee, just 20 miles south, and far beyond.

Cedar Creek Settlement

In 1864, the Hilgen & Wittenberg Woolen Mill played an important part in our nation’s history, by producing wool blankets for the Union soldiers during the Civil War. Today, Cedar Creek Settlement is a lively, bustling home to shops, restaurants, studios, and a celebrated winery set in the three-story, stone structure which originally housed the woolen mill and blacksmith shop.

DSCN6536

Today many of the historic buildings are home to quaint shops, art galleries, museums, churches, cafes, and inns that bring visitors from around the world to this quiet Wisconsin hamlet. One of my special joys has always been walking through these beautiful, old buildings.

DSCN6530

The people of Cedarburg are always so welcoming and friendly, engaging visitors in conversations, inquiring where visitors are from, and offering helpful suggestions about places to see.

DSCN6528

Each time I wander along Washington Avenue, architectural elements of the historic buildings catch my eye. 

I often pause to soak in all of the interesting details.

DSCN6520

Throughout the year, many festivals bring crowds of visitors to Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

DSCN6543

December is the perfect time to visit Cedarburg. All of the historic buildings are decked with tiny, white Christmas lights and evergreen garlands. As darkness falls during the popular ‘Festive Fridays,’ carolers dressed in Victorian clothing sing as they walk along the sidewalks. Horse drawn carriages carry visitors through town, bundled under blankets to chase away the cold.

DSCN6537

Many of the beautiful, old churches offer a peaceful place to pause and reflect.

DSCN6482

On this special visit, we enjoyed a stay in one of Cedarburg’s inns.

The romantic, historic Stagecoach Inn Bed & Breakfast was a delightful choice!

{Photo credit ~ The Stagecoach Inn B&B}

Built in 1853, this hotel was a stop for stagecoaches en route from Milwaukee to Green Bay. It was a full day’s travel for the stagecoach to make the 20-mile journey from Milwaukee to Cedarburg. In the early days, the hotel was used by male guests who slept in the unfurnished guest rooms. They would rent a sleeping bag for one penny per night (or 3 cents per week) and sleep on the floor of the hotel. The narrow, wooden staircase could not accommodate the large travel trunks. So, the trunks were hoisted up through the second story windows into the guest rooms.  The stagecoach drivers roomed in the basement in very primitive conditions. Two bunk-style spaces were constructed from rubble stone. Straw was used for the bedding and a pot-bellied stove warmed the dirt-floor basement, where the stagecoach drivers slept.  The drivers would stable their horse at a barn next door and enter the hotel through the outside basement door. Any couples traveling together on the stagecoach were invited to stay as guests in the comfortable homes in town.

{Photo credit ~ The Stagecoach Inn B&B}

The Greek Revival style stone building underwent more additions in the 1880s. It has served as a hotel or boarding house during its entire history. Slated for the wrecking ball in the 1980s, this historic building was saved and lovingly restored by owners, Brook and Liz Brown. 

{Photo credit ~ The Stagecoach Inn B&B}

They preserved the original materials throughout the building, added bathrooms, air conditioning, and other modern conveniences. The Browns lived and raised their family in the inn for many years. This year, they are celebrating 32 years as innkeepers at The Stagecoach Inn B &B.

{Photo credit ~ The Stagecoach Inn B&B}

Our stay at The Stagecoach Inn was wonderful. Our quiet, second story room overlooked Washington Avenue, decked with tiny, white Christmas lights. A lovely bottle of wine and chocolates, a thoughtful birthday gift from the innkeepers, greeted us as we entered our guest room. Antique furniture, including a pine wardrobe for our clothes, added so much charm. We closed the wooden shutters above the wide windowsills to enjoy a warm, cozy stay at the inn. I was in my ‘happy place’ surrounded by antique charm in this historic, little inn. 

I drifted off to sleep in the soft, comfortable bed, feeling blessed to be staying in one of the nine guest rooms in this wonderful, little place.  Old buildings have always held a very special place in my heart. During the night, thoughts about the history of the inn gently awakened me. As I lay awake, an unexplained feeling of excitement added to this special birthday adventure. I thought about how fortunate we were to be guests here, becoming part of the history of the inn. I wondered about the numerous people who had slept within these thick, stone walls over the past 162 years. I wondered if Abraham Lincoln ever visited the inn…

{Photo credit ~ The Stagecoach Inn B&B}

In the morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the first floor pub. Since we were the first guests to awaken, we had the pleasure of talking with innkeeper Brook Brown over breakfast. Oh, the fascinating stories he had to share!! He told us about their adventures in restoring the inn. A retired history teacher, he explained how the stagecoach passengers traveled through rural Wisconsin in the mid 1800s. We all shared stories of our travel adventures and favorite places in the world. Brook helped us with our plans for the day ahead, as we ventured off to explore some new destinations in Cedarburg.

Then it happened… and it still sends a chill of excitement through me even now!

Brook told us about some of the previous guests they had welcomed over the years ~ famous musicians, well-known actors and actresses, state Supreme Court justices, many visitors from Europe, and someone who has always inspired me…

Tasha Tudor's garden has been an inspiration for my perennial and herb gardens.

During her lifetime, Tasha Tudor illustrated nearly one hundred children’s books. She is near and dear to the hearts of many, and has always been one of my cottage garden inspirations!

Tasha Tudor!!!!

Yes, several years ago, Tasha Tudor, stayed at The Stagecoach Inn…

in our very same room! 

Tears of joy flowed the moment Brook told us about Tasha’s visit!

Perhaps the unexplained feelings of excitement and joy

that awoke me in the middle of the night

were Tasha’s inspiration for this wonderful new decade in my life!

I hope so!!

I can feel her inspiration, from the bottom of my heart!

Our stay at The Stagecoach Inn B&B was definitely one of the highlights of our Cedarburg adventure! Our story doesn’t end yet,  though. A warmer, sunny day on Friday led us to some other new discoveries. I can’t wait to share some of the hidden gems we found as we explored the quiet, little town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin! ☺ Next time…

Take joy!

♡Dawn

P.S.   What special Christmas-y places have you enjoyed visiting? I hope you will share them with us. (I’m making a list for future birthday memories ~ tied with heartstrings!)