March 2011 Newsletter

March, 2011                                                                            Volume 8, No. 4


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

7:00 p.m.

Lakefront Community Building***

          ***Note the Building Change; the Lakefront Community Building is in Lakefront Park, just go under the arch and to the left.



Whitewater Pottery with Kori Oberle

Kori Oberle is currently the director of the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson.  As a long-time Whitewater resident, she became interested in the pottery made in Whitewater during the 19th century.  She has collected examples of Whitewater pottery and is an expert in this field.  She will be bringing some of her collection and will discuss the history of the pottery. 


Members and guests are invited to come with any Whitewater pottery they have as well as items that might be Whitewater pottery.  Kori will be able to look at the pieces and see if it was made in Whitewater.  We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about Whitewater’s history.


Historical society to present fund-raising check to the city

In Depot Restoration news, at the Tuesday, March 15th Common Council meeting, our President, Ellen Penwell will present a $20,000 check to the City of Whitewater as the first installment of the historical society’s pledge to raise one-half ($40,000) of a 20% required match to the $319,900 Transportation Enhancement grant awarded to the city to rehabilitate the Depot.  All members are invited to attend this meeting.


This money has come from generous individual and business donors, the “buy-a-brick” campaign, and fund-raising events.  And, while we have been successful in raising most of the $40,000 for the rehabilitation grant match, we are still trying to raise an additional $20,000 for costs related to reinstalling the museum artifacts and making the depot a better local history museum.  Modern display equipment is costly, as are appropriate storage containers for our fragile collections.  In reinstalling and re-interpreting our collections to better inform the public about Whitewater history, we will be needing costly information labels and equipment to produce enlargements and other graphic materials.  The result of all of this work will be a high-quality museum of local history in a beautifully restored historic building. 



In other depot news, the vast amount of paperwork needed for this project (a department of transportation project using federal funding) has been slowly but surely moving ahead.  Next week, Mary Nimm, who is coordinating the project for the city, will be meeting with the department of transportation’s review consultant to go over the final paperwork and after that, we hope that the actual bidding for the construction phase of the project will be started very soon.

In the meantime, the society has successfully moved all of the artifacts and museum materials out of the depot and reinstallation plans are being formed.  The reinstallation plans will revolve around telling the story of Whitewater through its people, its businesses, its industry, and its social environment.  Rather than just a display of old artifacts, it is the goal to tell stories that illustrate the important eras of Whitewater’s history. 


Membership month a success

Our last newsletter was primarily an appeal to our members to continue their support and a hope that some of our new donors to the restoration fund would consider becoming members.  Well, this effort was a success.  Through generous donations from new and old members alike, we were able to raise about $1,000, which will go toward paying our regular expenses as an organization, but will also help fund our reinstallation, which we hope will begin late this year.  Here is a listing of our generous donors.


$100 or more:           James & Virginia Coburn

                                    Mike Grubb

                                    Dawn & Lyle Hunter

                                    Lolita and (the late) David Kachel

                                    Alan & Connie Marshall


$50 or more:              Commercial Bank

                                    H. Gaylon and Hannah Greenhill

                                    Roni & Richard Telfer

                                    Gerald & Nancy Wendt


$20 or more:              Kevin & Nancy Brunner                 John & Arlene Newhouse

                                    Violet DeWind                                Astrid Pfeifer

                                    Ed & Kay Drexler                            Thelma Robbins

                                    Sandra Heyer                                  Jim & Claire Stewart

                                    Eleonora Jedrysek                          Karolyn & Hugo Tscharnack


Other:                          Linda Loomer

                                    Tom & Karen Christofferson

                                    Harriet Kaluva

Thank you for your generous contributions.  There is still time to send in your membership and/or donation for 2011 if you have been a member and wish to remain one.  Just fill out the form on the next page and send it in to the address listed. 



Downtown Whitewater, Inc., the organization that has been working to revitalize Whitewater’s downtown recently held their awards banquet and some of the things they have been doing are very exciting.  Our depot museum is part of the downtown and when we are back up and running, we will be an active participant in getting people downtown to visit, shop, and enjoy what Whitewater has to offer. 


Last year, the organization sponsored a visit from famous zoologist and personality Jack Hanna, an event that was a major fund-raising success.  With some of the money that was raised, the downtown organization is placing some very artistic and unique bicycle racks downtown.  These racks include fish shapes that will be placed in LakefrontPark, a pizza slice near Toppers headquarters, and a book shape for the library.  The racks were manufactured locally by the Scharine Group, custom steel fabricators, and will add a lot to the attractiveness of downtown.


One of the big awards went to Dave Saalsa of the Quiet Hut for his recent building renovation.  This is one of the best renovations using existing materials, exposing historic materials, and improving the overall historic appearance of a downtown building that has been done in Whitewater.  Along with the work Dave did previously on the Reflections of the Past façade, he has turned his overall building into a showplace of high-quality commercial building restoration without breaking the bank. 


The historical society curator of the depot museum is working with Downtown Whitewater Inc. in sharing building histories for an upcoming tour.  One of the buildings that will be highlighted is Dave Saalsa’s building.  Here is some interesting history.


The building is known historically as the Littlejohn Block, named for its first owner, Newton M. Littlejohn, one of Whitewater’s most prominent citizens in the 19th century, and, by the way, an owner of a lumber yard.  The original, or first, building Littlejohn had erected is Dave’s store, the Quiet Hut.  It was built in 1883 and housed T. H. Goodhue’s hardware store.  In fact, this building was a long-time hardware store known in the early twentieth century as the Corner Hardware Store.  During the mid-twentieth century, it was the location of Rossing’s Department Store and it lasted into the 1980s.  Dave’s business, of course, has been there for many years.


In 1886, according to a Whitewater Register account, Littlejohn had local builder and developer J. C. Bower build an additional storefront to the original building (Reflections of the Past).  It was completed in early 1887 and its first tenant was the Chaffee furniture store.  This business was short-lived; in the 1890s the store became the J. C. Cox meat and grocery market.  The storefront housed a national grocery store chain in the mid-twentieth century, then became a branch of the Coast to Coast chain of hardware stores. 


This is just one of the fascinating stories of downtown buildings in Whitewater that Downtown Whitewater, Inc., with the assistance of the historical society, will be telling in tours in the future.


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