Disclosure: The Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted my visit to Wisconsin and facilitated some of the experiences referenced below. However, all opinions are my own.
Last fall I had the opportunity to spend some time Janesville, a beautiful, scenic community in southern Wisconsin. In addition to be home to some truly delicious dining options, the community also has a rich, storied past. From unique museums to engaging walking tours, there are lots of ways to experience the unique history of Janesville, Wisconsin.
Janesville was founded in 1835 along the banks of the Rock River, and much of its early history remains today. In fact, the community has more than 2,400 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That’s nearly 20 percent of all the historic buildings in the entire state of Wisconsin. If you like historic architecture and local lore, Janesville absolutely needs to be on your travel bucket list.
Continue reading to discover three unique ways you can experience the history of Janesville, Wisconsin on your next visit.
Historic Walking Tour
One of my favorite ways to get to know a new community is on foot. So I was extra excited when I learned that part of my time in Janesville would include a historic walking tour with Rich Fletcher of Roam Around Tours.
The city of Janesville has 13 distinct historic districts, and we were lucky enough to spend the morning exploring the Courthouse Hill Historic District with Rich. As we crunched on fallen leaves past blocks of beautiful historic homes, Rich shared an expansive history of the architectural styles of the area with us. Not only was it a wonderful way to become more familiar with Janesville, but I also learned a lot about the traditional styles of historic homes.
If you’re in Janesville, Rich offers a variety of history tours around the city. Typically these tours are on the second Saturday of each month and feature different areas of Janesville. No matter the neighborhood, Rich’s informative tours are sure to give you a new appreciation for the community’s history.
Milton House Museum
Especially if you’re a Civil War buff, you won’t want to miss the Milton House Museum. In addition to being an official National Historic Landmark, the Milton House is also the last certified Underground Railroad station in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Wagon Company
The Wisconsin Wagon Company, originally called the Wisconsin Carriage Company, has been a part of the community’s history since the early 1900s. What began as a classic carriage company continues to thrive as a successful small business. Today the Wisconsin Wagon Company produces toys, novelty wine racks, and even a specialty wagon designed to transport tourists’ groceries and luggage.
Bonus: Lincoln Tallman House
On my quick trip to Janesville I also visited the Lincoln Tallman House. But since it was October, the house was transformed for Halloween. Instead of a tour, we experienced a haunted house style experience as part of the attraction’s annual Spirits in the Night event. I can’t wait to visit Janesville again to experience the Lincoln Tallman House under more typical circumstances.
I would love to hear from you! What’s your favorite way to experience local history? How much do you know about the history of Janesville, Wisconsin?
Looking for more things to do in the Janesville region? Check out the other places I visited on my road trip.