As we drive around the state, we see lots of evidence of dreams tried and broken or disrupted, mostly businesses. On the one hand it is sad to know that people's dreams have been disrupted. On the other, it is worth trying to imagine what their dreams were, what might have happened, and perhaps more important, what can be done to rebuild something in their place. Wouldn't it be neat if we could bring these places back to life?
"Old factories and abandoned properties are prime real estate to recharge and energize downtowns."
(And I would add, all our communities.)
Natural Resources Specialist
DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program
Excerpted from "Back in business,"
Wisconsin Natural Resources, August 2008
Saw this barn on Hwy 133 in Potosi in Grant County. She looks like she's seen her better days, but the setting was marvelous! I might remark that I see a lot of barns that look down and out, but then after a close look I see the farmers are still using them. Saw no evidence of that here.
Old gas station outside Grantsburg
As far as I can tell, this was a former Land O' Lakes Feed operation in a township of Forest …
… Now simply a junk yard of some sort on Hwy 64 east of New Richmond before the intersection of Hwy 128
The building is at 9501 High Street (CH SS) in Nelsonville. I took this photo on October 11, 2013 and the building was for sale by owner. I think there were people living in it. She looks like she's been through it all.
This is a marvelous building, which once housed a brewery operated by a master brewer who moved to Princeton, Green Lake County, from Prussia in the 1850s. Barbara Mullaly wrote this: "He struggled to stayed in business. Apparently he enlisted in the Civil War and left his wife to run the business. It didn't make it. She didn't know how to keep the hops and sprouts from spoiling. It had several owners over the years, but reopened in 1934 with a new image. Tiger Beer began and it was marketed as the "Beer with a Purr". After the business closed in the late 1930's, the building was used for many things. It was a soda factory, a cheese business, a storage company, a mushroom growing facility, an antique store and even was used for a haunted house every Halloween for years. It is empty now which is a shame. Maybe with the popularity of small breweries, someone will come to town and reopen it. Although I'm sure the equipment is long gone and all that remains is the beautiful logo on the side of the building."
I am amazed I found this place. Quickly speaking, south of Tomahawk and on the south side of the Spirit Flowage is CH O, which runs parallel to the flowage. I took it to the west. In typical “get lost ride” fashion, I turned to the left, to the south on Swamp Rd, a gravel road with plenty of pot holes and ruts! I took Swamp Rd. until she merged with Camp Rd. and then stayed on Camp Rd. But this unfinished piece of architecture was somewhere on Swamp Rd. I took this in March 2012 so the area was clear of leaf foliage. She might be hard to find in the summer. And I am not sure whether someone intends to finish her. It sure did not look like that to me when I was there.
While I am in this area, I have got to show you this place. It’s not really a totally disrupted dream, but ... On the northern end of Swamp Rd., on CH O toward the east, I saw a very nice home, but one with this old guy close to the road. I asked the owner if I could photo it and he agreed. He told me it was built in the 1840s. He uses it as a storage area. So at one time, it was someone’s home. I think it’s neat!
Spotted this on US 11 in southwest Lafayette County, near Benton. In fairness, there is a newer farm complex off to the right off the photo, so this might be a disrupted dream that was reinvigorated, or not.
I was on Langlade CH C heading west very close to the Lincoln County border, just east of Peterson Road and west of Bluebird Lane when I spotted this old school, known as the Forest View School. It was built in 1912 and went out of use in the 1960s. There was a man mowing the lawn. His father bought the school and converted it into a home. The family lived in it until “the bricks started falling.” The son, fearing the grandkids might get hurt, bought a trailer. It is situated out of this photo to the left. That’s where they live, but the man keeps the ground cut and neat.
This is an old, abandoned home and farm on Rock Falls Drive, between CH KK and Eggert Drive, southwest of Irma in Lincoln County. It was in a marvelous setting.
Remnants of the barn. You can see the silo to the right.
Sort of as a fantasy, I wondered if she almost could be a “fixer-upper.”
The setting here was beautiful, on Hwy 13 out of Ashland, near High Bridge, but this house has seen its better days. Wouldn’t you love to know the history behind this home?
Marytown Farm Supply has had her better days. She is still standing in the Town of Marytown at CH G and HH, Fond du Lac County. She stands at the heart of the town!
This was St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (Kirche auf Deutsch), built in 1897 by German settlers. I do not know when this facility fell into disrepair. It is no longer used. Interestingly, right across the street is a beautifully kept cemetery, still in use, which has a fabulous view of the landscape. I talked to a lady visiting her husband’s grave and she told me she had been baptized in this church. She explained what happened to it but frankly I could not follow the conversation ---- my fault. She was there visiting her husband so I did not want to belabor the matter.
This once must have been a wonderful home. Spotted her on Hwy 52 and Kent St. in Langlade County. I took note of the fresh tire tracks and wondered whether there might be a new home back in the woods, with this old guy being kept up for preservation purposes, or perhaps even to sell the stone. I was not game to try to drive through the snow, and I worried about trespassing issues. But look at this next photo where I zoom through the left window.
Isn’t that stone you see through the window marvelous? I love it.
This one hurts. I was recently in Oconto County to visit the Chase Stone Barn, and largely because of my Polish heritage, decided to visit Krakow on Hwy 32. I was very saddened by what I saw. The small town center was a desolate ghost town.
This was the home of Seifert’s Farm & Hardware, which I guess included Purina Chow and True Value.
This used to be a cheese factory. It was hard for me to tell whether there might be some modest used furniture operation going on inside. The front door looked fairly new and there was a mirror and I think a lamp in the window. Beyond that, she looked locked-down from the outside.
Amongst other things, perhaps, this was a supermarket.
The 2000 census said that town had a population of about 354. I talked to a couple of residents and they said all the knew was that all the business just moved out or closed. They said there were no jobs in the town. What I found curious, however, is that when you drive around the dilapidated town center, you see quite nice and very well kept homes. And when you drive around the countryside, you see what appear to be thriving farms. While driving out, I was just wishing to myself that I had a lot of money or was a lot younger and aggressive in order to find a way to bring back the town center. It’s heart wrenching to see this happen to towns in our state.
This is a tough one. On the surface, this looks like an abandoned farm and home complex, but....
We were driving north on CH G in Adams County just north of Hwy 21 when I saw this old foreign sports car. I owned several old MGs back in the 70s so it attracted my attention. The area was overgrown and beat up.
It had a barn complex which also looked like it had been through the mill, but there was an electric meter attached and I suppose could have been usable.
There is a home on the land that also looked like she had seen her better days. But here’s the kicker. That was fairly new siding on the wall facing you in this photo, though I saw no evidence of people living here. Either someone is trying slow by each to fix her up or they tried and just ran out of luck.
Cloverland is located on Hwy 13 in northeast Douglas County. This once was the Cloverland Garage.
Ma & Emily's Bar, Pray Ave., just north of Hwy 54 and near the town of Pray in northeast Jackson County.
The Cloverland Community Club and King School stand on Highway 13 in Cloverland, Wisconsin, due east of Superior in Douglas County. The school, founded in 1916 and apparently closed in 1948, was a one room school house. I wish I would have gone inside. Several photographers have, including Shawn Thompson and Justin Sinks, Nate Lindstrom and "wainosunrise." I commend their photography of the interior to you.
This is a tough one to figure out for one who does not live here. South Range is just to the southeast of Superior in Douglas County, and Olson's is close to the corner of CH C and Staples Ave. We found a gasoline pump inside, along with shelves and coolers, so our assumption is this was an old time "Kwik Trip" type place.
This once was The Ark of the Lord, a place of worship. It is located on Hwy 64 in the Town of Evergreen in Langlade County. I believe the Apostolic Worship Center in Bryant now has some connection with the Ark of the Lord's parishioners, and am checking.
I suspect there is an interesting story that goes with the Farmers Merchant State Bank in Argonne, Forest County. I have found only a little of that story. It is clearly no longer an operational bank. Argonne was founded in the late 19th century, the Soo Line came through, the town was relocated a bit to ease the grade problems for loaded trains, and it grew until it had two large hotels, two large grocery stores, one clothing store, a meat market, a post office, a printing shop, two newspapers, a large livery stable, seven saloons, two doctors, a few other businesses and this bank, said to be the first bank in the State of Wisconsin. At present, it seems to serve as some kind of low rental housing. The town has only 532 people.
This was once a public school that served the town of Evergreen in Langlade County on Hwy 64 near CH P. At some point, someone tried to adapt it to be Antigo Christ Gospel Church. The Antigo Chamber of Commerce lists the Christ Gospel Church of Antigo as active on 7th Street in town. Not sure what happened here. It looks like someone tried to Tyvek the place but had to stop. On the surface, it looks like a great building, it's in a very rural area, and I've seen many old public schools turned into homes.
This old weathered home on Pine Drive, east of Wausau in Marathon County, has seen its better days. It stands amidst productive farmland and one wonders why it's been left to stand there.
It's hard for a rookie like me to say what happened here. Three pictures go with this set. Here are the other two.
As a guess, the first photo is of what was once a home. Oddly, there is a wagon out front fully stacked with cut wood for logs. The second photo looks like it is of a small barn, as there are still some rolls of hay on the floor. The roof collapsed here. Finally stands what looks like a garage, still holding together. All this is located on Crestwood in the town of Norwood, southeast of Antigo, Langlade County.
Driving on Hwy 73 N just south of the junction with US 12-18, near Hillcrest Dr., south of Deerfield, Dane County, were the foundations of a home and next to it this old barn. The setting was splendid. Someone is storing equipment in the basement of the home. It was easy to get a vision of how to reincarnate all this, but, of course, not so easy to hear the cash register ringing.
This used to be Mad Dawg's Hideaway, on Park Rd. off Eland Rd just east of Eland in Shawano County. As one who still dreams of owning an Irish Pub, it always hurts to see a brewski place fail. This looks like it was once quite a big operation.
This old barn sits on CH D, very close to its intersection with Mondeaux Dr. in Taylor County. She is a big one, on a wonderful piece of land. Ya just want to bring her back to life.
There are several old boats on display at Cornucopia, Bayfield County, along the edge of Lake Superior. Knowing of the neighboring Halvorsen's Fishery, their two ships, and their history, one can just imagine the seas this old fellow has seen and tales she has to tell.