Built as a residence by Frederick and Caroline Weage in the early 1850s, the stately gray building that’s tucked back on West Main Street is one of the oldest buildings in the village. It is of very sturdy construction and has easily withstood the ravages of the sometimes harsh Wisconsin weather. In addition to being a residence for some of the village’s most prominent early families, a number of notable businesses also occupied the site.
In 1837, an early Waterford pioneer in his 20s came to Waterford from his birthplace in Connecticut. During the Great Milwaukee Land District Sale of 1839, Frederick A. Weage (pr. Wedge) purchased the Land Patents for 320 acres that today covers the approximate area making up Evergreen Elementary School, Fox River Middle School, Golf View Condominiums, and the Rivermoor Country Club.1 This is the property abutting the Barnes/Chapman property to the northwest.
On March 7, 1846, after farming for a few years, Weage sold 129 acres of land for $980 to Mr. Abel Willard. The area sold roughly entailed the current school grounds mentioned above. In return, Weage purchased from Willard part of Lot 2, block 15, the current site of Enve Salon and Day Spa, and two other lots in the village for $400.2 He built a small cottage on Lot 2 to live in while his permanent home, directly behind, was being constructed.4
The value of Weage’s Real Estate holdings ($300) shown in the 1850 census is too low for an upscale home. Therefore, the author assumes that the present home was not yet built when the census was taken. In 1860, the value is shown as $10,000.
On March 20, 1851, an additional parcel of land3 was purchased from Mr. Thomas Emerson for $100 on which he built and operated a general store and his home.
In 1856, another 20 feet of depth was purchased from Samuel Chapman and Sam Russ on which he built an extension to the rear west side of the home.
Frederick Weage was quite successful with his general store and branched out into real estate, which was very lucrative in the day. In 1870, he is listed in both the Wisconsin and Illinois census.
In addition to the mercantile business, the post office also operated on the premises for a number of years.4
The need for education beyond the general graded school exposure of the day was supplemented by Weage’s daughter, Louise, who taught courses for young women. A room on the second floor, provided by her father, was used as a classroom which accommodated 30 to 40 students.
“It had individual seats, which was a first in the village. This was, for three or four years, the ‘school de luxe’ of the village.”4
“Another school was held in the evening in the Weage building which was attended by older boys. Several of them testified as to the value of this instruction, which included German and some of its branches, when they entered the business world in a few years.”4
Mr. Weage served as a member of the Wisconsin House of Representatives in 1860 and 1865, representing Racine County, according to “History of Racine County.”
Mr. and Mrs. Weage passed the mercantile business holdings on to their son, Collin. The couple moved to Chicago where the 1870 Illinois census shows that he amassed a large holding in real estate worth $100,000. He died March 10, 1886 at age 75 and is buried in Cook County, Illinois.
Subsequent Property Lineage
Doring Aiken purchased the Weage property and part of Mill site No. 1 on May 8, 1876 for $3,500.7 Almost one year later, on March 31, 1877, he sold that same property back to Weage for $500.8
The Weage property was then sold to Christian Berger on April 30, 1880 for $1,3006 which included just the land and building on Main Street.
Berger, who was German born and trained as a watchmaker, was well established in the village. He was a Civil War veteran and elected Town Clerk in 1871, re-elected in 1878 and also elected as the Justice of the Peace.
The Weage building was used as a residence and business storefront to ply his trade as a jeweler and watchmaker until May 1888 when it was sold for $1,000 to Clausen and Mollzen, proprietors of the Fox River Hotel.
Mollzen and Clausen used it as a residence for two years then it was sold for $3,000 to Dr. George E. Newell in June of 1890.
Dr. G.E. Newell was the son of Dr. G.F. Newell, who was the second doctor in the village, and had three of six sons whom became doctors. Dr. G.E. Newell operated a Drug Store as well as his doctoring practice at this location for four years until August 1894.
Dr. Thomas T. Moyle purchased the property for $3,000 in August 1894 and established his veterinary business there until 1915.6
From 1915 until 1971, this building was used principally as a residence.
In 1982, the building was purchased by the parent company of Equitable Bank as described below.
In 2003, Laura Halbach purchased the building and has done extensive restoration and remodeling to the interior and exterior to convert it into a usable commercial property, being mindful of preserving its historical features. All exterior walls are about two feet thick, made of stone, similar to what was used in the construction of other early buildings in the vicinity and harvested from the Fox River near by. A stucco surface was added years ago and refinished as part of Halbach’s restoration. Thick walls provide for additional decorative features creating deep window insets.
There is also a rear stairway from the west wing to the second floor and it is reputed to have had Ghost sightings by some employees.
A scroll pattern along the ascending staircase to the second floor and along the ceiling is still in place. Care was taken to preserve the banister with the goosenecks in place at the top and the volute, minus the cap in the center. The original balusters had been replaced as part of an earlier renovation.
A true architectural gem from the 1850’s in our little village.
Since 2008, Enve Salon and Day Spa has leased the building, offering upscale pampering services to locals. The mission is:
“To positively affect the well-being and energy of those we touch by providing and recommending quality service and products that promote HEALING, BEAUTY and BALANCE.”
Additional photos of interest:
Lead Researcher: Robert E. Gariepy, Sr.
NOTE: Should the reader have further documentation to enhance the content of this web page, please contact the Lead Researcher through director@ExploreWaterford.com. We are particularly interested in pictures or historic artifacts that may be shared. Credit will be given.
- Land Patents for Racine County: https://arphax.com/collections/wisconsin?page=2 – Family Maps of Wisconsin, also on file at Waterford Library.
- Racine County Register of Deeds, Vol. O, pages, 29, 30, 31.
- Racine County Register of Deeds, Vol. Y, p556.
- Waterford: Stories of our village and it’s busy life, Waterford Post, 1923.
- A history of the Waterford graded schools – District #1, Robbins, Douglas. p. http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.WPLHistGraded.
- Racine County Register of Deeds, Vol. 98, p 124.
- Racine County Register of Deeds, Vol 63, pp 401,402,402.
- Racine County Register of Deeds, Vol 69, pp 56, 57.