Today (Sunday) is Whitewater Heritage Day Tour of Homes

      Hear Ye, Hear Ye!   You are invited to a once in a lifetime event!  Sunday, June 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Whitewater Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Whitewater Landmarks Commission will cohost the Whitewater Heritage Day tour of homes. The event, which is a fundraiser for the Bassett House, built in 1858, will contribute to the major restoration taking place at this local landmark and include a tour of the significant homes in the Whitewater Main Street Historic District.

     Partnering in this event are the Whitewater Historical Society, Downtown Whitewater and the Whitewater Arts Alliance. The Whitewater Arts Alliance will sponsor a pop-up, one day art exhibit at the Cultural Arts Center showing contemporary and historic artwork featuring Whitewater places, people, and events. Whitewater Heritage Day is not to be missed!

      In addition, you will find the 2nd Annual Food Truck Festival at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library parking lot, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. All proceeds there will benefit the library.

      If you wish to become a true “history lover” you may purchase a ticket for a nominal $15.00 which will allow entrance into the five historic homes on the tour that have not been open to the public for a number of years. Tour tickets are available for purchase only the day of the tour, at the Bassett House, at 708 W. Main Street, and at the Smith-Allen House, at 445 W. Center Street. There is no limited number of tickets.

You may either stroll through Whitewater’s Main Street Historic District which is celebrating its 30th anniversary or use the shuttle van which will drop people off and pick them up at strategic points on the tour.

       Homes on the Heritage Day Tour include: 



708 W. Main St.

Built 1858

     The focal point of the tour has belonged to the Whitewater Federation of Women’s Clubs since 1926 when member Florence Bassett bequeathed her family home to this longtime community organization.  Local merchant Thomas Bassett had this home built in 1858, when the site was at the far western edge of the village. 

     The two-story cream brick house is an example of transitional Greek Revival architecture with Italianate details.  The west wing and rear wing of the house were added after 1878.  Remodeling in 1930 removed walls on the first floor to create a large meeting space.  The second floor has recently undergone a major restoration, including new wiring and plumbing.



622 W. Main St.

Built in 1895

     Nancy and Jerald Wendt have owned and operated this home as a bed and breakfast inn since the 1980s.  Edward Engebretsen had the home built in 1895, according to a design by George Bradley & Son.  Engebretsen was a local dry goods merchant and served as mayor of Whitewater.

     The stately Queen Anne Revival style house has a single-story classic front porch, a three-story octagonal turret, and leaded stained-glass windows.  Each room features a different type of Wisconsin hardwood including yellow pine, birdseye maple, red and white oak, sycamore, and cherry.  It was the first house in Whitewater to be wired for electricity. 



604 W. Main St.

Built 1876

     The Delta Zeta Sorority has occupied this home since about 1978. George W. Esterly had the home built in 1876, from a design by architect Henry Koch.  George W. Esterly worked with his father, inventor George Esterly, who founded the Esterly Reaper Works.  Mr. Koch also designed the Milwaukee City Hall.

     Built of cream brick, the two-story Italianate house has a basic rectangular plan.  Projecting bay windows accent it.  On the first floor, a central black walnut staircase separates rooms arranged on either side.  The home features the original and ornate marble fireplace mantels in the first-floor rooms.  Recently the sorority has done extensive remodeling to the basement, adding a kitchen, dining and lounge area, laundry and restrooms.  The art glass in the inner set of entry doors is of special note.  The front porch was added to the house in the 1950s.



328 W. Main St.

Built 1868

     Current owners Kathleen and Jim Fleming operate this home as a bed and breakfast featuring eight guest rooms with private baths.  Dr. H. H. Greenman, one of Whitewater’s early dentists, had this house built in 1868.

     Built of cream brick, the house started out as a simple gabled ell with Italianate details.  The mansard roof with arched dormers completely changed the look of the house when added in 1881.  Another exterior remodeling took place in 1887.  The home now features Second Empire style bay windows and two Queen Anne style porches, one with turned posts and spindle work, as well as a two-story Queen Anne style bay window. 


445 W. Center St.

Built 1856

     Dan Richardson and Pat Blackmer are the thirteenth owners of the house.  Whitewater Normal School President, Robert Williams, owned this home from 1946 to 1956, when he had an indoor kitchen and plumbing installed.

     The E.A. Smith family, who owned a local hardware store, had the Italianate Villa style house built in 1856 by Porter and Hunter.  Constructed of Whitewater cream brick, the house features a second floor as well as a three-story tower which dominates the front of the home and distinguishes it from all others in the city.  Architectural details include low pitched hipped roofs, tall narrow arched floor to ceiling windows, wide eaves, and cornices with dentils.

      The tour will also include historical reenactors who will share the exciting history of the city.  Chances are you may be able to meet Mattie Hull of the Pratt Institute, Florence Bassett, or Mary Flavia White, donor of the historic library.  You definitely will be able to learn the history of the Birge Fountain, the Morris Pratt Institute and tour both the White Memorial Library which is now the Whitewater Cultural Arts Center and the Depot Museum which is home to the Whitewater Historical Society all free of charge.

     The Bassett House will also feature a Silent Auction from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. where people may bid on a variety of items that have been donated to the fundraiser.  It is a one stop shopping venue with winners of the auctioned items to be announced at 3:01 p.m.

     Stop by the Bassett House from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. for the old-fashioned Ice Cream Social featuring a slice of pie and ice cream with your favorite toppings.  Cash donations will be gratefully accepted to enjoy the ice cream social, with all proceeds going towards the restoration of this historic home.

     Mark your calendars for this Sunday, June 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Remember, the purchase of your $15.00 tour ticket to visit the historic homes is a fundraiser for the Bassett House.

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