For all of my growing-up years, I knew Sheboygan Falls as the town we drove through to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Sheboygan. I suspect like most of us, I never gave my familiar surroundings a second thought; they were just there.
When Ted and I were planning our mid-June trip to WI, we looked for things to do in the area and discovered that Sheboygan Falls has not one, but two historic districts! The Cole Historic District is one of the few remaining districts in the state of Wisconsin to display the early development of a Wisconsin community from the 1830s and 1840s.
Some of the buildings in the Cole Historic District on the east bank of the Sheboygan River.
After the construction of the Sheboygan River bridge in 1839, the Cole area declined and the city developed on the west side of the river.
The Sheboygan River as viewed from the bridge that resulted in the decline of eastern Sheboygan Falls and the development of western Sheboygan Falls. The river flows under the bridge to the falls, but I couldn’t find a place to take a picture of the actual Sheboygan Falls.
In the 1800s, Sheboygan Falls had eight sawmills, two woolen mills, four hub and spoke factories, manufacturers of carriage and cabinet furniture, and the first foundry between Milwaukee and Green Bay. While I was growing up, all I knew about manufacturing in Sheboygan Falls was that it was home to Bemis Mfg.–maker of toilet seats. Bemis is still making high-quality toilet seats in Sheboygan Falls, and you can buy them everywhere.
A former woolen mill on the west bank of the Sheboygan River, opposite the Cole Historic District.
I’ve learned that more than 45 downtown building façades in Sheboygan Falls have been meticulously restored, that the downtown area is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and that the city has won numerous awards and national recognition for “exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing America’s historic and traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.” Who knew?
I recognize this house, but must admit I didn’t appreciate its architectural value when I was a child.
Some of the restored downtown buildings on the main street. I’m not sure, but Bob’s (steak sandwiches) might have been in the green-fronted building when I was growing up. Those were great steak sandwiches!
I never paid attention to this architecture either. I knew it as the corner to make a right turn to get to Grandma’s house.
Depke’s Shoes is still in business. They used to have an x-ray machine for shoe-fitting. After putting on your new shoes, you stood on a platform in the lower front of a jukebox-size structure with a viewer on the top. You could see the bones of your feet and how they fit in your new shoes. I’ll bet they don’t use that technology any more!
Hey, kids! Remember Evan’s dime store in Kiel? Well, the Sheboygan Falls Evans was (and still is) about three times bigger, and both are still in business.
The entire inside of Evan’s dime store is as crowded as these shelves of stuffed animals. If you want it, Evan’s most likely has it: toys, dishes, cookware, fabric, tools, home decorating, bed and bath furnishings, knick-knacks, cosmetics, . . . .