Sunday, May 20, 2012

Waukesha Celebrates Armed Forces Day

This weekend, Waukesha, Wisconsin, which is 15 miles west of Milwaukee, celebrated Armed Forces Day by having  historic tours, talks and other events spread out around town.  It was sponsored by the Waukesha Landmarks Commission and the Waukesha County Parks & Recreation, and highlighted famous residents who contributed to shaping how the city looks today. 

Saturday started out with historic talks about prominent historical persons who were either born in Waukesha or became important citizens later in life.  As you can see from the photo I took above, these citizens were from many different eras from the founding of Waukesha (which used to be called Prairieville) through both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, up to the sufferage movement.  The speeches were very interesting, and I learned some things I didn't even know about Waukesha.  I did not know that Mary Todd Lincoln came to the city after her husband's assassination to take advantage of the city's many springs.  Ulysses S. Grant also came to the city for the same reason.

These talks were given at Prairie Home Cemetary on the west side of town, and maps were available afterwards to find the tombstones of those spoken of.

From there, I went over to the Waukesha Housing Authority building on Arcadian Avenue where they had an old-fashioned fire truck (pictured below) on display in their parking lot.  I went in and was treated to an art exhibition and, down in the basement, I got to see what is left of one of the original springs that brought people to Waukesha in the mid-to-late part of the 19th century (Waukesha's town motto was even "Spring City").

In the afternoon, at the Les Paul Bandstand in Cutler Park, there was a brief ceremony to hand out three awards to members of the Landmarks Commission who contributed to the preservation of some of Waukesha's most historic buildings.  One of the recipients restored the Moor Downs Clubhouse to keep it from being destroyed, and another recipient restored a building on the corner of Madison Street and St. Paul that I remember being in such disarray a few years ago.  This led to the other side of St. Paul experiencing a revitalization of its own including the new downtown fire station and bus station.

After the awards ceremony, there was a really nice fashion show of many historic gowns.  You can see a display of them below.

They also had actors dressed as Waukesha citizens from different eras speaking about life during their time, just like the talks given at Prairie Home Cemetary in the morning.

My friend, Beth, was even involved, wearing an authentic 1940's outfit (pictured below).

It was a weekend packed full of events.  So many that the battery in my camera ran out at the end of the fashion show.  There were also a few cars on display from the Waukesha Old Car Club in Cutler Park, a dedication of a historic marker in Frame Park, and Sunday they had tours of some of the homes of Waukeha's most prominent citizens, as well as a tour of Carroll University.

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