November 2010 Newsletter

November, 2010                                                                              Volume 8, No. 2


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

7:00 p.m.

At the Depot


The Whitewater Historical Society will be holding its next meeting in the Depot.  It has recently been cleared of the bulk of its contents and this is a great opportunity to see the building without the artifacts.  In fact, it has not been empty like this since 1974, when the museum opened in the depot building.  The depot has beautiful architectural details that have long been hidden or obscured in the past.


PROGRAMDepot Restoration and Reinstallation

The society is fortunate to have as its guest for the November meeting, Jessie Powers of Isthmus Architects of Madison.  Jessie is an architect and Project Manager for the depot restoration.  She will be speaking on the nature of the restoration work and the project timeline.  Please, if you can, come to this meeting, as this will be the last time we will be able to have Jessie speak to us about the specifics of the project.  Jessie is a highly-qualified restoration architect and we would like to have a good sized group there to hear her. 


We will also be looking at the work that several members of the society have done regarding the reinstallation of the museum.  They have been working on outlines of various historic times in Whitewater history and historic themes.  Not only will they provide some insight into how Whitewater history will be told in the museum, but are hopeful that the public can add to these ideas to make them even better. 



The last newsletter held an error in the location of the Dr. James Trippe interpretive sign.  The sign was unveiled last Saturday, November 6, at Cravath Lakefront Park near the Lakefront Building (not at Trippe Lake).  This sign, sponsored by Fred Kraege and the Whitewater Historical Society, honors Dr. Trippe for being one of the most, if not the most, important of Whitewater’s founding fathers and mothers.  It has a text explaining the importance of Dr. Trippe, who built the first dam and flour mill in town (along with another dam and saw mill) and images that show the Trippe log cabin and the old mills at the two dams he built.  The Trippe cabin was located in the vicinity of the location of the new sign. 


Speaking at the installation were Ellen Penwell, president of the society; Kevin Brunner, city manager, Shirley Hapka; librarian at the Irvin L. Young Library; and Fred Kraege, local historian.  Ellen and Kevin spoke to the importance of local history and projects such as this one, and Shirley spoke to the work Fred has done to gather local history together for Whitewater.  Finally, Fred spoke on the importance of Dr. Trippe and the history of Whitewater. 


If you have not seen the sign yet, take a walk down to CravathLake.  Thanks to Fred and a lot of work done by Ellen, there is an important marker speaking to the earliest years of Whitewater’s history.   


Depot Restoration News

The light is now being seen at the end of the tunnel of the depot restoration!!  The plans for the restoration and all of the paperwork needed by the Department of Transportation is almost completed and about to be sent in for this project.  The depot restoration committee of city personnel, historical society members Carol Cartwright and Ellen Penwell, and members of Isthmus Architects met the first week in November to review the large book of information and plans that will be submitted to the Department of Transportation.  When this information is approved, the actual letting of the work contracts can begin.  If all goes well, we could be back in the depot sometime next summer.  Unfortunately for construction workers, but fortunately for us, the building recession will probably mean good prices for the work and quick turnaround. 



With the planning phase almost completed for the depot restoration, we are approaching the end of the fund-raising effort to meet our share of the match for the grant and materials for the reinstallation.  There is still time to get your brick or make a contribution but the program ends on December 31st!!  Do not hesitate to ask for brochures for the buy-a-brick program. They are available at the Chamber of Commerce Office and/or from Ellen Penwell at 262-203-6529 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



As this newsletter is being prepared, it is Veterans Day, a time to honor all men and women who have served in the military.  Whether in war time, “cold war” time, or peace time, veterans of military service have made an important sacrifice to our country. 


Most of the newsletter readers probably know that the establishment of Veterans Day has something to do with World War I, but perhaps you don’t know or remember the exact story.  Also, do you remember a brief time when Veterans Day was NOT celebrated on November 11?  Well, here is the story.


World War I was a brutal war that introduced new horrors; lethal gas, modern and deadly weapons such as large artillery and machine guns, airplanes, and millions of dead and wounded soldiers.  It began in 1914 between two European alliances; France, Britain, Russia, and Italy on one side and Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Turkey on the other side.  These alliances had been arming themselves at an alarming rate and the assassination of an Austrian royal (represented by one alliance) by a Serbian national (represented by the other alliance) triggered hostilities. 


The war was primarily France, Britain, and Russia against Germany, Austria, and Hungary and most of it was fought along a line running in northwestern France and through Belgium (western front) and between Germany and Russia (eastern front) .  On the western front, each side dug massive trenches and fought to basically a stalemate until 1917.  In that year, the Russians withdrew from the war, but the United States entered it and shifted the balance of power to France, Britain, and the United States.  After another year of brutal fight6ing, Germany sued for peace and an armistice was called for the 11th hour of the 11th day of November of 1918. 


Even though the Americans fought only a year or so of World War I, this conflict resulted in the largest casualties since the Civil War and had a significant impact on the American people.  A year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first Armistice Day.  During its early years of celebration, the holiday’s purpose was to promote the cause of peace, a reaction to the brutality of the first world war, a war that was said to be the “war to end all wars.”    


In May of 1938, Congress officially declared November 11 a legal holiday, Armistice Day, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.”  But, by this time, relations in Europe had  deteriorated again, and a new war was declared in September of 1939, a war that would become known as World War II.  After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the United States entered the war, and fought both in Europe and Asia. 


World War II involved the greatest military mobilization in United States’ history.  Millions of American men and women joined the services and civilians were involved at a level not seen in the past.  Shortly after the war ended, Americans were again involved in a fight in Korea.  The vast number of veterans from these conflicts resulted in Congress recognizing, at the urging of veterans organizations, that November 11 should be a day to recognize all veterans, not just those of World War I.  So, in 1954, November 11 became Veterans Day. 


By the late 1960s, many workers and businesses expressed a desire to make federal holidays observed on Mondays, thus creating long weekends that would boost the travel and recreational industries.  So, in 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill was passed making Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day observed on a Monday close to the actual dates.  The measure was enacted for the first time in 1971 and seemed to work with all of the holidays except Veterans Day.  The first Veterans Day was observed on October 25, 1971 and was highly unpopular.  The public did not get used to the change and in 1975, the observance of Veterans Day was moved back to November 11.


Along the way, the original meaning of the day changed as well.  From a day devoted to promoting peace after the most vicious war ever seen, the day is now a celebration to honor all of America’s veterans for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.  I hope all of the Historical Society’s veterans had a meaningful day and know that we all appreciate their service.



W7646 Hackett Rd.

Whitewater, WI  53190


Date to Remember:

January 19, 2011:  Wayne Kroll will be speaking on Whitewater Breweries—a not to be missed program on one of the most fascinating topics of Whitewater History.