The American novelist William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” His words ring true when you walk through the Village of Hartland. At a glance, much has changed since the original settlers arrived in the 1830’s but much remains…if you know where to look.
For example, consider the house of Village founder Stephen Warren who settled in the area in 1838. His house stands at 235 East Capitol Drive, just a few steps from the Ice Age Trail. The house was built in the 1850’s and was designed in the Greek Revival style which was popular at that time. Its appearance has been changed through several renovations but it still stands, one of the distinctive homes on the street, and a visible reminder of the past.
One block away, at 315-317 East Capitol Drive, stands the building that originally housed the Burr Oak Tavern. Built in 1853-1855, the tavern catered to the trade traveling on the Watertown Plank Road that ran in front of it. Over the years the building has had different uses including an emergency hospital started by Doctor Henry Nixon.
Almost directly across the street at 338 East Capitol Drive is the home of Dr. Nixon a long-time physician in Hartland. The home was built in 1893-1895 and is in the Queen Anne style which featured large porches, turrets, and shingled upper stories. It is believed that the plans for the home came from an award-winning design at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Dr. Nixon’s name lives on in Nixon Park which contains a picturesque section of the Ice Age Trail.
Tour of Historic Sites:
There are more than 20 historic homes, churches, and commercial sites in downtown Hartland that you can easily explore on foot. Many of the properties are still in use and sixteen are listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation. You may download a PDF version of the “Historical and Architectural Heritage Tour of Hartland Wisconsin” brochure.
You may obtain a hardcopy guide to these properties at the Village of Hartland offices, 210 Cottonwood Ave, or at the public library.
While at the library, be sure to visit the Local History Room and explore its extensive collection of local history photos, maps, and books. And be sure to view its Ice Age Trail murals inside and the artwork outside along the Trail. Another mural featuring the Ice Age Trail can be found just one block off the trail at Lake Country Fine Arts School and Gallery, 112 West Capitol Drive.