Middleton traces its beginnings to an 1832 fur trading post along the northern shore of Lake Mendota near what is now Mendota County Park. The Township of Middleton was created in 1848 and about a decade later, in 1856, the much-coveted railroad came through, establishing Middleton as a hub of activity for the area. The current depot was built in 1895 and serves as the Middleton Tourism and Visitors Center, located on Parmenter Street downtown.
Middleton incorporated as a village in 1905 and became a city in 1963. Today the city retains its beautiful historic charm and celebrates its landmarks. For more history and photos of Middleton, check out the Middleton Historical Society and Rowley Museum.
History is alive in Middleton – that’s why it’s stronger here.
- Middleton’s Native American History can be found throughout the city, including:
- Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Visit sacred burial mounds at Frederick’s Hill and see where Blackhawk camped in 1832. To experience some of this history on foot, park in one of the lots off Pheasant Branch Road and follow the trails to Frederick’s Hill.
- Heim Mound, located off the corner of Mound Drive and N. Gateway Street (residential area). This mound, which is thought to represent a fox or a wolf, is one of many that once existed in the Four Lakes area. It was created about 750-1000 AD, and the location was determined by the proximity to Lake Mendota, which had spiritual importance for the mound builders. In 1937, Frederick Heim donated the mound on his property to the Wisconsin Archaeological Society, making it the first mound to be legally preserved in Wisconsin. In 2004, the Heim Mound was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors are asked to respect the sacred nature of the site.
- Stricker & Tiedeman Ponds, located along Middleton Street. Middleton’s pioneer settlers knew the area had been frequented by early Native Americans because they easily gathered arrowheads and other artifacts from the soil surface. However, the habitation was not proved scientifically until 1977 when excavations by the State Historical Society found pottery with Aztalan decorations near Stricker Pond. That evidence dated the Middleton occupation to the late Woodland era, approximately 1000 A.D. In 1979 the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Middleton now protects the ponds as a park and nature conservancy.
- Not only is the Middleton Visitor Center a great place to get tips on the best places to eat and shop in Middleton (check out our visitors’ guide!), it’s also a historic train depot and museum. The first depot was built in 1856, along with the railroad, but both the first and second depots were lost to fires. The visitor center is in the third Middleton depot, built in 1895. This depot was an active passenger station until 1960 and served freight until 1975. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Our Historic Walking Tour will guide visitors through 160 years of Middleton’s fascinating past. Stroll past historic homes and early businesses. The tour passes some of Middleton’s great restaurants, so there are plenty of places to pause and relax on your tour.
- One of Middleton’s first inns, dating back to the mid-19th century, is now the acclaimed restaurant, 1847 at the Stamm House. It was once a stop for stagecoaches traveling along what is now Century Avenue, and rumor has it that one of its former incarnations was as a speakeasy.
- Middleton is home to many historic landmarks, including beautiful and interesting homes, businesses and schools. Many of the properties are open to the public. For example, you’ll find historic businesses downtown that continue to operate as shops and restaurants.