In 1832, a fur trader decided to open a post on the west shore of Lake Mendota. Many more people eventually followed, and the Good Neighbor City was born. Today, Middleton is home to stores that sell the latest fashions and restaurants that offer the newest culinary creations, but it is also a place that provides a fascinating look at the past. Whether you choose to take a walk through a historic Middleton neighborhood, explore the community’s beautiful architecture by car, or simply enjoy a meal in a building that dates to the Civil War, you’ll find that a trip through Middleton’s yesterday provides a lot of fun today.
Here are some ideas to start your next exploration of Middleton’s rich history.
- The historic train depot, 1811 Parmenter Street, is a great place to start your journey through Middleton as it is now the Middleton Visitors Center, open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. The depot was built in 1895 and is actually the third depot for the city (the first two were lost to fires). Pick up free maps, brochures and the free Middleton Visitors Guide here.
- The Rowley House Museum, 7410 Hubbard Avenue, is home to the Middleton Area Historical Society and is a free museum open mid-April to mid-October, Tuesdays from 1-4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. This home was built in 1868 by Middleton Doctor Newman C. Rowley and stayed in the Rowley family for generations before being purchased for the historical society. See the home as it once was, including exhibits of Depression-era glassware, and Native American artifacts. The Rowley House has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1999. It’s also just a short walk from the Depot!
- Take a stroll or a drive on Middleton’s Landmark Tour or Middleton’s Historic Walking Tour! Download maps or pick them up at the Visitors Center!
- 1847 at The Stamm House, 6625 Century Avenue. The Stamm House was built in 1847 and has served the Middleton community as a service station on the “Old Sauk Trail,” which ran from Milwaukee to Minneapolis. By 1852 it was converted into a hotel and tavern and named “The Pheasant Branch Hotel.” Guests roomed upstairs and corralled their horses in the back. Today, it is a modern supper club with a beautiful outdoor patio.
- Opera House, 1827 Parmenter Street. Once home to a hotel, saloon and second floor opera house, this building now houses several charming shops.
- Weinberg-Schroeder Building, 1828 Parmenter Street. Now a modern Italian café, Villa Dolce, this building was built in 1868 as a store and saloon briefly operated by Charles Weinberg.
- BONUS: Learn about the history of MUSTARD at the National Mustard Museum in downtown Middleton. This free museum is quirky and delightful and the gift shop is the perfect place to find a unique souvenir.
For more information about Middleton’s history, click here.