Tuesday night we met my friend, Sue, for dinner in Hartland at Zesti. Sue and I met in freshman science class way back in high school and thanks to Facebook (& Sue’s sister) we were able to rekindle our friendship a little more than a year ago.
We had a very nice dinner. Michael got a small personal Carne Pizza, Sue went with the Capelini and I went out of my comfort zone and tried the risotto and everyone ended up happy with their choices.
We had a nice visit although, poor Michael had a tough time as it was pretty loud in the restaurant so he had a hard time hearing the conversation. I’m hoping that at some point while we’re still in Wisconsin Sue and I can get together for lunch in Madison as she has a seasonal spot at a campground in Rio, Wisconsin that she goes to on most weekends. We’ll just have to see how things turn out.
Wednesday we spent the day touring Watertown (about 15 miles to our west) so that I could do some reminiscing. I lived in Watertown, for a short time, in the early 70s, with my mom, step dad, a couple of my older siblings. Since I was so young my memory isn’t great…but there are a few things I can remember.
Our first stop was downtown Watertown where my mom, stepdad and brother Rick all worked at one time or another. My step dad was a bartender, my mom a waitress and Rick did various jobs in the restaurant world. There were 2 hotels (The Washington and The Carlton) that they worked at..so I wanted to see if they were still in business or even standing.
Michael and I parked the truck and then set off on foot. The Carlton House was just a block away from where we parked. I don’t remember anything about this place at all…other than listening to my family talk about it. As far as I could tell it kinda looks like a half way house now…or something similar. I got a quick picture and we moved on.
We walked down Main Street enjoying the historic old buildings. Watertown has really done a nice job of preserving their heritage.
About 5 blocks down we found the Washington Inn. This is the place that I remember most. There was the hotel, then a Chinese restaurant and finally the lounge all in the same building.
I was happy to see that this building was still standing, as well and looked like it was in pretty good shape. Surprisingly, the lounge where my step dad worked is still there and so is the Chinese Restaurant (Golden Dragon) and it’s even run by members of the same family! I don’t think the hotel is still be ran as a hotel…maybe apartments?
We went inside the lounge and had a soda and some popcorn and I couldn’t get over the flood of memories that came to me…considering I was only 4 or 5 when we lived there. I remember having a birthday party in the restaurant during off hours and taking naps in the corner of the lounge.
I took some pictures to share with my siblings and even though the restaurant was closed I got some pictures of there too…you have to walk through it to get to the rest room!
Probably the biggest attraction in Watertown in the Octagon House, a private home built from 1850 to 1854. A popular architecture style before the civil war this 8-sided home made entirely of brick and has 4 ‘squarish’ rooms on each of its 4 floor as well as 4 triangular-shaped rooms. If you count all of the rooms, halls and closets there are 57 ‘rooms’ in the home. In the center of each floor is a grand cantilever spiral staircase that provides access to each floor.
The home was built by John Richards for his family and some part of the family resided in the home until 1937. The home was given to the Watertown Historical Society in 1938 and has been providing tours ever since.
The tour was $8 each and lasted about an hour. We had a 17-year-old young man as our tour guide and he really seemed to know his stuff. Not sure if he was new to giving tours or not but he seemed a bit ‘stiff’…hopefully he becomes for comfortable after time as he showed a lot of potential.
Along with a tour of the Octagon House we were allowed access to two building out back. The first was a one room school house that was moved to this location back in 1956. It resided in its original location from 1856 until it was moved here.
This one room school house is actually the very first Kindergarten in the United States. Margarethe Meyer Schurz started teaching her children in her home and when friends and neighbors found out they asked if their children could join in, as well. Not having enough room in her home for all of the children this building was built and our first Kindergarten was started.
The other building found out back is the Plank Road Barn which was originally found along the Watertown-Plank Road not far from where it sits today. The barn was moved to its current location in 1960 and now holds a collection of pioneer tools and farm equipment.
When we left the Octagon House we tried to locate the house I lived in but not having an address (all I knew was the street) we had no luck. Bummer.
On the way home we stopped at Tractor Supply so that Michael could pick up an item for an upcoming project…stay tuned!
A little further down the road we stopped outside Donny’s Girl Supper Club which was Hartung’s Supper Club when I lived in Watertown. Both my mom and brother Rick worked there…he was the salad boy. (his words!) I made sure to take a picture so that if/when he reads this blog post he can reminisce. It seems vaguely familiar to me but once again…long time ago.
Our last stop was at the Maple Inn in Ashippun…just down the road from home. We went here for a Friday fish fry last summer and enjoyed it. We’d heard that on Wednesday they have fish, fries and cole slaw for $3.99 and had to try it out. We each ordered the fish and then we also got an order of shrimp, fries and cole slaw to share…for the same price.
We were quite satisfied with our meals and definitely got our money’s worth as our bill was less that $20, including tip. We’d recommend this place to anyone and who knows….we might be back before we leave…ya never know!