WHS Adds to State Register of Historic Places

The Wisconsin Historical Society recently announced a number of new additions to the State Register of Historic Places, Wisconsin’s official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin’s heritage, including the following:

George W. Borg Corporation Building (Delavan, WI)


Constructed in 1943 as a manufacturing facility, the George W. Borg Corporation fulfilled government contracts for war materiel during World War II. Products included mechanical time fuzes for anti-aircraft shells for which the company developed a machine to manufacture adjusting nuts that increased the rate of fuze production. Following the war, the newly created Borg Fabric Division occupied the building and its success led to the construction of a three-story addition in 1956. Investing in research and development, the Borg Fabric Division made advancements in the production of knitted pile fabrics using synthetic fibers, and received numerous patents throughout the 1950s and 1960s when the industry rapidly grew. The Borg Fabric Division operated both day and night shifts in the subject building at a time when the George W. Borg Corporation was the largest employer in Delavan. Shifting market conditions resulted in the end of pile fabrics manufacturing at this location in 1980.


Horlick Malted Milk Company (Racine, WI)


The Horlick Malted Milk Company, composed of 12 buildings located on a 16-acre site near Racine’s historic downtown, is the headquarters and manufacturing plant of the company, one of Racine’s most significant industrial enterprises. Brothers William and James Horlick established a milk products company and moved to the subject property in 1877. In 1883, William Horlick patented a powdered milk food product consisting of malted barley, wheat extract, and evaporated whole milk that was nutritious, easily digestible, non-perishable, and soluble in water. This invention was the world’s first “malted milk.” The company established milk purity standards that were adopted statewide by Wisconsin’s dairy industry and its invention of malted milk quickly spread nationally, becoming a household name developed through nationwide advertising campaigns and worldwide distribution.


King Street Arcade (Madison, WI)


The King Street Arcade, built in 1927 and located a half-block off of the Capitol Square, was designed with 24 smaller-sized rental spaces for stores and offices. These spaces are accessed from two streets bordering the building and also by an interior two-story arcade, lit by a very large glass skylight. Today, shopping malls using this concept are commonplace, but in 1927, only the nation’s largest cities could boast of such buildings. The King Street Arcade was developed and owned by a member of Madison’s prominent Hobbins family. The building is also notable as the work of Madison architect and engineer Henry Charles Huart, who practiced in Madison during most of the 1920s. The King Street arcade is rare in Madison, unique as being the only example of its type in the city from the era prior to the end of World War II, and one of the very few to be built in Wisconsin during the same period.


Shaw Point Historic District (Bayfield, WI)


The Shaw Point Historic District is significant for its varied history, telling the developmental story of commerce, maritime history, agriculture and recreation, and architecture. The first settlements relied on extractive industries and agriculture to support their economies. Commercial fishermen, miners, loggers, and farmers shipped their commodities to eastern markets first by steamships and then by railroad. These transportation networks also opened northern Wisconsin to leisure passengers, who began vacationing at resorts along the Lake Superior shore in the late nineteenth century. Eventually, seasonal visitors acquired property along the lakeshore to construct private vacation homes. The three properties in the Shaw Point Historic District reflect this arc: the Shaw-Hill Farm was an early commercial fishing camp and farm; Camp Stella was a recreational resort; and the Campbell-Jensch Property was developed for private seasonal use. Eventually, all of the properties became second homes as extractive industries, agriculture, and recreational resorts dwindled in importance in the twentieth century.


Simonds 10-Sided Barn (Stevens Point, WI)


The Simonds 10-Sided Barn is a small dairy barn, built in 1916 and having a stone and concrete foundation, and wood board-and-batten walls. One of only 112 known centric barns in Wisconsin, the Simonds barn is unusual for its 10 sides and off-set silo. Constructed by Orville and Otto Kramer, two brother carpenters from nearby Baraboo, this barn was built for Benjamin Simonds who not only had a small dairy farm but was a schoolteacher. The construction of the Simonds barn parallels a period of intensive dairy farming and concern for progressive improvement in rural life in the history of Sauk County. The property exchanged hands a number of times before being purchased by the Eschenbach family, who operated the dairy farm from the 1940s to the 1970s.



West Bend Theater (West Bend, WI)


Opening on November 29, 1929, the West Bend Theater was purpose-built as a movie theater and live theater venue with a full stage for live theater and the most current technology of the time for projection and screening of movies. The West Bend Theater was designed in the Art Deco style by the prominent architectural firm Graven & Mayger from Chicago which was a master firm known primarily for large-scale theater design from 1926 to 1929. At 872 seats, the West Bend Theater is small in comparison to most Graven & Mayger theaters, but having such a prominent firm design a theater in this smaller city was an achievement residents could boast about. Currently undergoing restoration, including the original marquee and blade sign, storefronts, ticket booth, lobby and audience chamber, and interior finishes including the historic paint scheme, the theater will re-open for live performance, movies, and community events.




Van Brunt Memorial School (Horicon, WI)


The Van Brunt Memorial School, built in 1922 and expanded with later additions, was designed by the notable Wisconsin firm of Parkinson and Dockendorff as a “combination school” housing primary (kindergarten through junior high) students and secondary (high school) students in separate wings. The Van Brunt Memorial School is significant as the most important educational building in Horicon and represents this rural community’s commitment to secondary-level education. In 1993, the school district proposed to demolish the Van Brunt Memorial School. Instead, local voters chose to fund a remodeling of the building that included interior alterations to the gymnasium and auditorium, the construction of an elevator and stair tower at the rear of the 1922 school to meet accessibility requirements, and the construction of a new gymnasium.


War Eagle Shipwreck (La Crosse, WI)


The sidewheel steamboat War Eagle is the only known river sidewheel steamboat shipwreck in Wisconsin waters, providing historians and archaeologists the rare chance to study the construction of vessels commonly used on the upper Mississippi River. The War Eagle shipwreck site has yielded information about vessel construction, the life of people at that time, and the commodities that were being shipped. Before rail lines were constructed west of the Mississippi River, steamboats like the War Eagle were an important link in connecting peoples and goods between the economically and culturally developed eastern markets with the virgin territory west of the Mississippi, defining its place in the larger context of maritime history. This vessel also played an important role the movement of military troops and supplies during the American Civil War. Although the vessel is located in an area of black water (low to no visibility) with strong and potentially dangerous current and cross current conditions, there is potential for future discoveries as technological advancements in remote sensing and robotics continue to flourish.




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