1877 Town Hall

1877 Town Hall

During 1876, John Fuhrman was the Town Chairman of Caledonia when the Town Board voted on a resolution to build a town hall for meetings.  The motion failed to pass, but a year later the same motion passed and the 1877 Caledonia Town Hall became a reality on the Mary O’Connor property along what is now Hwy 38 just south of 5 Mile Road.  The building served the Town of Caledonia well for 75 years.

Dennis Kornwolf, the Caledonia Town Chairman at the time, recognized the historic value of the deteriorating building and in 2001 gathered a small group of like-minded citizens in a effort to save the structure.  This loose cadre of individuals grew into the Caledonia Historical Society.  The building, after twos years of preparation, was moved a quarter mile down the highway very early in the morning of December 4, 2003 to the Caledonia Historical Village.  The Caledonia Historical Society celebrated the completion of the restoration on August 26, 2007.

The various displays represent aspects of town life in days gone past. In the rear right corner you see elements of home life, the treadle sewing machine, two early washing machines and hanging on the wall, three different types of wash boards along with a wooden ironing board.

In the center right wall panel, under the sign from the long gone Franksville railroad depot is a tribute to Franksville and the product that “built the town”, sauerkraut. You see a cabbage slicer and advertising memorabilia. Sauerkraut was an important staple of life. It kept for a long time, traveled well and was highly effective in combating scurvy. Countless Civil War soldiers benefited from sauerkraut.

The roll top desk was used by postmaster Ron Britton. The rack of “Indian Clubs” were used as an exercise routine by early Czech settlers who formed societies called “Sokols”. These societies promoted physical fitness and fraternalism.

The coal stove and table are similar to what would have been in the building in 1877. The town fathers sat at the table while interested citizens sat along the wall on the benches.

On the wall you will see the original blueprint for the Linwood School. The original Linwood School stood just across Five Mile road. The school would eventually burn to the ground. This park is named after that school. The school was rebuilt on Hwy 38 near the Six Mile road. It still is in use by the Caledonia Lions Club. The desks are of various periods ranging from circa 1900 to 1950. There are also displayed several photographs of students at the Linwood School.

1902 Milwaukee Road Depot

This building replaced a depot that burned down just after the turn of the twentieth century . It was located in the town of Corliss (now Sturtevant). Most depots are long straight buildings, this one is “L” shaped. When this depot was built there were two perpendicular rail lines that crossed in Corliss. This depot was designed to handle both lines with the station master in the octagon area. The perimeter windows gave view of both roadbeds. The east – west line was abandoned years ago but the depot continued to service the north – south line until it was replaced by the new Amtrak depot on Hwy 20 in 2006.

This structure was under threat of demolition when the Caledonia Historical Society purchased it for $1.00 from the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The building was cut into four pieces and moved in September of 2010. Just the new foundation, moving costs and roof replacement amounted to another $73,000.00. The ongoing restoration costs have pushed the price tag well past the $100,000.00 range and counting.

The building was repainted in the original color scheme of 1902 of yellow and brown. The interior is similar to what it was when we obtained the building. Very few interior photographs exist and the building was remodeled several times during it’s life span.

When originally built, the depot had two fireplaces. We have recreated one, non-working fireplace in the far westerly room. When we received the depot that room was used mainly for mechanicals and had a concrete floor. We had to add structure to rebuild the floor and it now looks as it would have when it was a waiting room. The northerly room with the model train layout would have been the other waiting room and the far north room, the freight room now serves as our workroom.