Lodi means "peaceful valley." The village is located in the heart of scenic southwestern Wisconsin, Columbia County. The town is part of he Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, just 20 minutes north of Madison. It is about four miles southeast of Lake Wisconsin, formed by the Wisconsin River. The town boasts a Historic District, two Historic residential neighborhoods and is widely known as home to Susie the Duck, a mascot for Lodi since 1948
January 25, 2017
"Historic Downtown Lodi" has said, "Isaac Palmer founded the village of Lodi in 1846 in what was then the Pleasant Valley Precinct of the Wisconsin Territory. Palmer chose this glaciated valley as the location for the Village of Lodi because of its water power potential. Spring Creek powered a sawmill that year and a grist mill followed in 1850."
I regret that I did not visit this area, but The Lodi Street-Prairie Street Historic District is a very fine, highly intact
historic residential neighborhood, as is the Portage Street neighborhood. Several homes are listed in National Register of Historic Places. I have seen photos of them and they are sensational.
I should mention that downtown Lodi hosts a segment of the national scenic trail. The naturally beautiful valley makes the perfect setting for trail hikers to enjoy.
When I first drove into town Lodi greeted me with this neat barn on Hwy 113 just before you pull into downtown, on the left side. Another look follows.
Once I got into downtown, I immediately came across Susie the Duck. ￼She has a special spot and small park where she resides where Spring Creek crosses Main Street, downtown. I did a story on her, "Susie the Duck, since 1948 in Lodi."
I won't go through the whole story but do commend it to you. Here is Susie. Susie the Duck has been the mascot for Lodi, Wisconsin, Columbia County since 1948. As legend has it, a country mallard made Lodi her home in 1948. She settled in the downtown and laid her eggs in a large masonry basket full of flowers. Observers came from all over to watch the eggs hatch. The police chief’s granddaughter named the duck Susie.
Susie returns every year to her flower basket on Spring Creek. Actually, many Susies have come to the basket over the years. We bumped into Susie while driving through Lodi. The park is lovely, Susie’s nest is lovely, and of course Susie is a real charmer. Here are some photos.
Susie has selected a small park next to one of two streams running through town. The arrow points to Susie’s home basket.
And there is Susie and her masonry basket.
Lodi is a village, with about 3,050 people as of 2010, so the downtown is small, but historic. The red building was built in 1885 and now hosts Gunderson's Funeral Home. Just to its left in the photo is Bread Etc., a bakery and gift ship with a Scandinavian-European flavor. She opened in 2016. On the other side was Weber's Bakery, which closed I believe in 2014. The business, known for its caramel doughnuts, wedding cakes and fresh-baked breads, was originally started in 1921 by German immigrant John Weber as the Lodi Home Bakery. It had been a Lodi tradition for 93 years.
I want to introduce you to two events sponsored by the Lodi & Lake Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. One is the Lodi Wine Walk and Shop, held in November, the other the Red, White and Brew Walk and Shop held in May. And of courseI just missed the latter one since my visit was in June. The Lodi Enterprise described the idea this way:
"Over the past decade, communities in Southwest and South Central Wisconsin have promoted area businesses by sponsoring wine or beer walk events. During these events, the hosting organization will purchase the wine or beer to be used at the participating businesses. Patrons of legal drinking age purchase a ticket from the hosting organization and are given a wine or beer glass. The patron can then walk to each business involved in the event and sample wine or beer while they are inside the business premises during the event."
This is an interesting building. It is known as the Job Mills Block, included in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. It was built in 1895 by an English Immigrant named Job Mills. The Wisconsin Historical Society has written this:
"Job Mills (1840-1913) immigrated to the United States from England in 1842. By the time he built his new building in Lodi's downtown he was a very successful area farmer and something of an agricultural entrepreneur who also dealt in the buying and selling of grain and in the production of cheese … The Job Mills Block is a commercial building whose main façade displays elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style in its use of brick and stone and in the heavy stone arch that crowns the entrance to its second story."
The building currently hosts the Downtown Coffee Grounds which is shown on the left part of the building. It serves coffee, sandwiches, soups and salads, and also caters. Next to it on the right is the One 111 Main Bar & Grille. It serves American bar food, and also a variety of domestic and craft beer.
These two old buildings host a couple of neat shops. On the left is Digs Thriftique. It opened for business 2013. Digs sells antiques, vintage, rustic general merchandise, and offers a great selection of reproduction tin signs. People who have shopped there seem unanimous that it is "a great place to find treasures and an awesome place to find things that mom and grandma used to have.
Over on the right is Sunfall on Main, LLC. It sells antiques, art, craft and folk art and when the weather turns good, lots of flowers and plants, including veggies and herbs.
Lodi may be a small village, but there is a lot to see. AS usual, I wish I had had more time to see it all. Next time!