This section is organized by street names and only attempts to list the property under the original owners name, ownership date, and a brief biography. Research was done using the resources of the Racine County Register of Deeds, various newspapers existing at the time, books in the History Room at the Waterford Public Library, Waterford Post archives on microfiche, Burlington History Society, Burlington Public Library microfiche library, Ancestry.com, Racine County Historical Society, Findagrave.com, and the Wisconsin Historical Society archives. Every attempt has been made to corroborate names and dates for accuracy. Some researched documents contain inaccurate information as identified by the corroboration of other sources.
Selected properties are included because of their age or are otherwise unique structures and may not qualify for the National Historic Sites designation. The oldest existing residential property in Waterford dates back to 1845 and is found at 210 West Main Street. We will add sites as research develops. Feel free to contact the Explore Waterford Design Team if you would like to share information an any of the identified sites or new ones to be added.
While the property information and external pictures are public, please respect the current resident’s privacy – it is private property.
Jefferson Street was the original road that connected Waterford to all points south and east via a very busy Plank Road. Original land owner, Samuel Chapman, owned the entire two blocks between Main and Washington, and South Jefferson to Water streets. When Chapman died, ownership was transferred to two of his daughters, Imogene and Ellen, who operated a millinery store on the Northwest corner of Main and North River streets – across from today’s Waterford Public Library.
In 1906, Chapman’s daughters s sold off eight lots in Block 10, the second block south of Main Street. Each buyer had purchased two adjoining lots east and west. Each of the Victorian and Dutch Colonial style homes on the west side of Jefferson Street were built in 1906 or 1907 and are still occupied today.
112 South Jefferson Street
Fred Cooper purchased this site from Imogene Chapman, April 2, 1906, for $350. Cooper sold the 240-acre family farm, located about one and one-half miles west of the village on the south side of State Highway 20, built this home and retired here along with his mother, Emily.
According to tax records, this home was built here in the same year. No biography information is available except that he was single and was self-employed. Fred was the son of Archibald Cooper, one of the early settlers of Waterford and is buried along with his parents in the Honey Creek Cemetery.
This home is an excellent example of the upper-end Victorian homes in the rural communities of the early 20th century. A bedroom balcony and large front porch stand out on this home along with the structural details of multiple roof lines, large windows, and a complimentary decorative color scheme. It appears to be well maintained providing a positive image on Jefferson Street.
116 South Jefferson Street
Walker Whitley purchased this lot from Imogene Chapman for $700 on March 30, 1906. He never built on the lot. Instead, he opted for a home at 304 North Street which is detailed further down this page. Ten months later, Whitley sold the parcel for $1325, at a handsome profit, to his son-in-law, William “Albert” and Mariam Noll on January 10, 1907 upon which Noll would build his home. The Noll’s had four children at the time ranging in ages six to 14 – Frank, Oliver, Clifford and Lucille. Albert was a home builder and the son of C.J. Noll, an early mercantile store owner on the east side
A large wrap-around porch is featured on this Victorian home with plenty of structural ornamentation, large window area, complimentary colors – all adding interest to this period home. It appears to be well maintained and is a positive attribute to the community.
120 South Jefferson Street
This Dutch Colonial home was built as a retirement home by Ole Nelson in 1906 on a lot purchased from Imogene Chapman, for $600. Ole Nelson was the proprietor of the Fox River Hotel at 213 East Main Street for 26 years. Follow the link to read more about Ole Nelson and his years managing the hotel.
Nelson’s home is an excellent example of the Dutch Colonial architecture popular in the more affluent parts of the rural villages in the early 20th century. Large windows give this home a unique public presentation. There are two faux windows at the roof line above the eyebrow level. A concentric semi-circle decorative feature above the upper three windows add to the exterior appeal. Larger windows were used throughout the home which would make the interior brighter. Large front porches were common in the era which provided an outside gathering place for conversations or just relaxing. The original open porch has since been enclosed. A recent exterior paint application has brightened up this home which compliments the other homes on the block.
124 South Jefferson Street
Henry Plucker purchased this site for $500 from Imogene Chapman on January 11, 1906. Plucker was 40 years old when he and his wife, Catherine, built this fine and well-maintained home.
Plucker was the son of William Plucker, owner of the original Plucker’s Tavern and Hotel , Today Art’s Town Tap at 234 East Main Street. Upon William’s retirement, he sold the tavern to his two sons, Henry and Will. They made improvements and continued operation of the saloon business. Henry also had investment interests in other village properties and moved to Fox Island when he retired.
The large front wrap-around porch provided a gathering place for just sitting, engaging in conversation, and rocking, or just getting fresh air during the warm summer time. A small second floor bedroom balcony is set above the front entrance. A period home that appears to be well maintained and a compliment to Jefferson Street.
210 South Jefferson Street
The north part of this home dates back to 1850 when Joshua Woodhead purchased this lot. Woodhead had emigrated from England where he had gained experience in the woolen manufacturing business. After a trial at farming in English Settlement, he decided to move to Waterford where he rented a home near the dam and took a job as a pinner at the Hovey Woolen Mill on the Fox River. When the mill went through bankruptcy foreclosure a few years later, the machinery was shipped to Watertown, Wisconsin where Joshua would re-assemble the machinery and returned home months later.
Lydia Woodhead Carr details her remembrances of the original home in a compelling article published in the Waterford Post dated January 8, 1925.
“The house where I was born is the north part of the residence on (210) Jefferson, recently enlarged by Mr. Ed Kortendick, now owned by Christopher Quinn. My father bought this lot with a small Oak tree on it in the spring of 1850 … The cellar was dug, the frame of the house raised, the floor laid, and in that unfinished structure, on the night of May 28, I was (born) sent to abide with them. Then the family consisted of father (Joshua), mother (Ann), Will, Tom, Libbie and Lydia.”
“That Fall, Typhoid fever was epidemic and came into our home circle claiming two as its toll, father and (two-year old) Libbie, November 3, 1850.”
“The house unfinished, a cold Wisconsin winter coming on, and only a No. 2 stove to keep warm by, the outlook was indeed dark; mother couldn’t see the silver lining to the overshadowing cloud, but she trusted God’s word: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.””
Ann and two of her children, Tom and Lydia moved in with a friend’s family nearby for two weeks after which she discovered that she valued their friendship more than a place to live in comfort.
“She took us home and by all sleeping together, making use of the number of large flannel blankets which she had brought with her from England only eight years before, we survived the cold and snow of that long winter, but we were better prepared and more comfortable for the next, since mother had the lower rooms plastered and bought a larger stove.”
As mentioned above, extensive remodeling was done in the 1920s and possibly later. Exterior siding changes appear to me more recent.
Joshua and Libbie were buried in Old Settler’s Cemetery on North Jefferson Street until 1894, when Anna died. The cemetery had become so desolated that son Tom, knowing of his mother’s wishes to be buried next to her husband, had the old remains exhumed and re-interred, along with her remains, at the Oakwood Cemetery, one-mile northwest of the village.
214 South Jefferson Street
Samuel Chapman was the original owner of this lot and sold it to Louis Sanders as lots four and seven in block 32. According to the earliest tax records of 1863, Sanders had a home here but it is not the one presently on the lot.
Lydia Woodhead Carr, as published in the January 8, 1925 edition of the Waterford Post, recalls that Sanders was a cooper by trade and had his barrel shop between this house and the Woodhead house to the north side.
One of Sanders’ sons, William was considered too slight of stature to be a cooper so he engaged work as a clerk at the Heg and Jacobson mercantile store on the east side of the Village. He studied for and passed the test to become the Postmaster which he held for 12 years. During that time, he started studying law. With the encouragement of Walker Whitley, local lawyer, Justice of the Peace, and meat market operator, he attended the University of Valparaiso for six months. Upon completion, he received his diploma and returned home a full-fledged lawyer. It wasn’t long after that, with the backing of local businessmen, Mr. Walker Whitley started the Waterford State Bank with Whitley as President and Will appointed as Clerk. Will eventually was made President of the firm.
Will bought the family home, and based on tax records, rebuilt it by 1910. Its taxing value was now equal to the value of the other beautiful Victorian homes on Jefferson Street.
218 South Jefferson
According to the earliest village tax records of 1863, G. (George) W. Sproat owned this property and paid taxes equivalent of a typical home at that time. Sproat was a very successful hardware merchant in Waterford with a store on the southwest corner of Main and River Streets. He was appointed Postmaster for the term of 1853 to 1860.
Other anecdotal writings refer to this property as the Hatlestad home. Tax records show that Peder Hatlestad, a Norway immigrant, bought this property in the early 1870s. It is highly unlikely that an older home was replaced by a newer one of the same value as shown in the tax records. This painted brick home is of solid construction with a remodeled section to the rear.
Peder (Peter) Hatlestad, Sr. emigrated from Norway in 1871 along with his wife Greta (Gertie), sons – Barney, Peter, Antone, and daughter – Annie. Originally, the Hatlestad family settled in Racine where he worked in a shoe factory. In a few years, they moved to Waterford to establish his own business. Hatlestad was a shoemaker by trade and had a shop, according to the Waterford 1876 Directory, at the north side of Main Street, #4, as detailed in the accompanying photo.
The final resting place for this family is in the Rochester Cemetery.
219A South Jefferson Street
Site of Original John Beck Brewing Company 1865 – 1920
Current photos of the remodeled home from the remnants of the John Beck Brewing Co.
Curiosity sometimes gets the best of us, and at this heritage site, we ask that you respect the privacy of the current residents. For more information, read the complete articles referenced in SOURCES at the end of this section which are found in the History Room at the Waterford Public Library.
Henry Beck and his son, John, age 23, Prussian immigrants, bought this one-acre parcel for $180 from Samuel Chapman, village founder, on August 17, 1865 as shown in the property records. It was the site upon which they would build a brewery to supply the local needs, especially for the German settlers, with their favorite beverage – beer. Henry, who also had an interest in a local grocery store, sold his half interest to sons John and Paul in 1869 for $5000. Considering the sale value placed on the property, it is obvious that the brewery had become very successful by that time. Another 60 acres of land was purchased in 1875 – about a block southwest on Jefferson where he grew his Jerusalem and Russian barley, hops, and crops for family consumption.
Several buildings were needed to accomplish the brewing process including the grain storage area, malting house, brewing area, ice storage for keeping the lager beer cool during the fermentation process, and living quarters for the John Beck family.
A rendering from Wayne Kroll’s book details how the buildings were situated on the property with the lighter colored stone building being the only part that survives today. Lagering, a cold temperature fermentation process, was the preferred method of the day which requires an underground cave for consistent temperature control. The existing arched lagering cellar measuring 12 feet high by 38 feet long is considered one of the best preserved in the State.
Before refrigeration, ice was the only method of cooling. With the brewery strategically located on the banks of the Fox River meant that they could conveniently harvest the ice in the winter and store it for use as needed during the fermentation process. Located just a few blocks north, was the Chapman (and later the Thompson) sawmill which provided the necessary sawdust insulation to preserve the ice through the warmer months. Wooden pipes that transferred the liquid from the steeped grains to the brewing area are still exposed in parts of the lower level walls of the restored structure.
John lost his sight in his later years transferring the task of brewing and malting to his oldest son, William. The Beck Brewery produced beer until around 1890 when the large Milwaukee area brewers were dominating the market and making it hard for the small “Farm Brewers” to compete. It was converted over to a malting operation exclusively producing the brewing ingredient for Froedtert Malting in Milwaukee. This continued until it was forced to close by Prohibition. The Beck family states that a batch of beer was occasionally brewed during Prohibition for special functions like family weddings.
After the repeal of Prohibition, the malt house did not re-open. Instead, William would farm the 60 acres as a dairy operation. No beer would be produced again at this location until the current owner, James Hartnell, a home brewer, produced his first batch in 2005.
The current property owners, James and Jacqueline Hartnell, have accomplished a truly quaint and historic 25-year preservation project restoring this stone structure into a solid, comfortable home. It can be clearly seen from a canoe or kayak on the Fox River, about a quarter mile south of the downtown Waterford bridge.
220 W. Main St. – Originally George McLeish Tailor Shop
According to researched documents at Racine County Register of Deeds, this building was originally built in 1845 -46 and is the oldest existing building found to date in the Village of Waterford. George McLeish, a Scotsman, came to Waterford in the early 1840s to ply his trade as a tailor- a much-needed and appreciated profession in the early settlement.
Deed records show that McLeish purchased the land in three segments over 10 years from Samuel Russ, one of the major land owners of the newly surveyed Village. This building was erected on the first segment purchased in 1845. McLeish married in 1847 and it is assumed that the McLeish family lived above the tailor shop since that was the only land he had purchased during that time. An 1858 map shows the McLeish residence had moved to 406 West Main Street; another Heritage Home detailed on this page.
Subsequent narrow strips were added to the west and north of this building in 1846 and 1859 making his total property 62 ½ feet on Main Street by 82 ½ deep.
A second building was erected after 1859, directly on the west side of the McLeish tailor shop. It appears to be residential but no records have been found pertaining to its occupancy origins.
Articles appearing in various editions of the Waterford Post during his time in Waterford illustrates that he was a hard-working man with a flair for having fun during his off hours. McLeish was an organizer for social events in the Village and a wry sense of humor seemed to be his trademark.
Establishing the year of the McLeish building is correlated with his ad in the Burlington Gazette in October 1859 thanking patrons for 15 years of patronage. His character is attested to by Lydia Woodhead Carr in her remembrances in the Waterford Post article from 1925 and the editor of the Burlington Gazette in 1859.
310 W. Main Street
Nestled on top of the hill, just northwest of the intersection of Jefferson and Main streets, is a large Greek Revival style two-story painted red brick home built by Charles Moe in the 1860s
Moe was born in 1819 in Oswego, New York and came to Waterford in 1848. Moe’s occupation is listed as a Cooper in the 1850 census. Nelson Palmer, Moe’s brother-in-law, is listed as a Merchant, and came from Connecticut.
Moe and Palmer married Curtis sisters, Emily and Sarah. Each family had seven children. They would be partners in a number of early businesses in Waterford.
In 1850, Moe joined Palmer in running the milling business at the A.B. Jones Farmer’s Mill on the east side of the dam. After Jones died in 1853, and for a number of years thereafter, Moe and Palmer continued to operate the business until they dissolved the partnership and each went their separate ways. Moe went to Adams County and Palmer was appointed as Deputy Prison Commissioner at Waupun replacing Col. Hans Heg of Civil War fame. A few years later, Moe and Palmer returned to Waterford and formed a new partnership to operate a mercantile-grocery business. The site today is next to the B.G. Foat building on East Main Street. This partnership would last until their offspring were apparently crowding out the available support system.
The partnership would again split in the mid-1890s with Palmer continuing to operate the east side location while Moe built a new store as Charles Moe and Sons located where Mike Webb’s Flooring is located today. Palmer’s store was destroyed by fire in the Great Fire of 1898. Moe’s store would survive and continue to prosper.
Charles Moe and Sons operated this store for many more years. Moe died in 1903 and is buried in the Oakwood cemetery. Upon his death, wife Emily, moved to Racine to be with family members where she died in 1913. She is also buried at Oakwood cemetery. In 1905, the home was sold to Gunner Knutson, who appears to have been retired by this time. His wife Emma maintained the house until at least 1940.
406 West Main Street
Being a tailor in the village, coupled with good business sense, was apparently a lucrative profession in the 1850s. George McLeish, referenced above at 210 West Main, built this Greek Revival-era home after a few years in the tailoring business.
McLeish purchased all six lots in Block 18 between 1846 and 1850. This home was built on Lot 5 in the early1850s but no tax records exist to confirm the exact building year. Today, it is two houses west of the old Methodist Church. The 1876, the Waterford Directory refers to this residence as “1 west of ME Church”.
It is stated in the Grass Roots of Racine County that a “Large stone residence was built in the 1850s which still stands today… He (McLeish) was a colorful man, acting Marshall of parades and funeral director – especially of old friends.
In 1866, McLeish guided Waterford’s unit in the fourth of July celebration. Burlington offered a banner to the town which would send the longest parade (for their event). Waterford brought the banner home, but was saddened by an accident which maimed for life two of the east side young men, John Huening and Henry Ensing, who while engaged in firing a canon, each had an arm blown off.”
The McLeish family moved from their original home at 210 Main Street, to this home where they raised their three children, Mary, George and Carrie. After his retirement, they moved to Waukesha with daughter Carrie where he died at age 75 in 1895. McLeish is buried in St Joseph’s Cemetery.
The current homeowners have been busy restoring parts of this structure to its original condition. Examining the front porch reveals that the original home was indeed made of stone and later stuccoed over. This preservation work is a tribute to the historic nature of the homes in the area that have been covered up over the years. Wall thicknesses are approximately 24 inches.
In 1883, McLeish sold the home to Edward and Mary Groat. They had one daughter – Eliza and an adopted daughter, Gertrude (Gertie). Groat, a tinsmith, partnered with Munroe McKenzie, a clerk, to form a hardware-grocery business located on the east side’s Main Street.
More about E.M. Groat, the tinsmith, can be found here.
Groat sold the home to August and Bertha Tess in 1910 where they lived until he died in 1931.
Settlement of Tess’ estate shows that Adolf and Mary Rittman purchased the home in December, 1931.
Rittman learned the cigar manufacturing trade from the masters in his early years living and working in Burlington. In April, 1899, Rittman got a job at Ward Bunker’s cigar operation in Waterford. He walked the seven miles to and from work every day, and was always on time. In November, he bought the cigar making operation and proceeded to produce some of the finest tobacco in the area until 1921when he sold the business.
At age 49, retail merchandising caught Rittman’s fancy and he became the proprietor of Rittman and Woeste, a gentlemen’s furnishings store. Rittman recognized the opportunity for selling men’s clothing since the nearest place to buy these goods was Burlington.
Ten years later, Rittman purchased the old McLeish home.
A.M. Rittman died in 1950 and is buried in St. Thomas Cemetery. The home remained in the Rittman family until 1976.
304 North Street
(This site under research and development. Please check back later)
NOTE: Should the reader have further documentation to enhance the content of this web page, please contact the Lead Researcher through Explore Waterford. We are particularly interested in pictures or historic artifacts that may be shared. Credit will be given.
Badger Breweries: Past and Present, Wayne Kroll, 1976, Waterford Library History Room
Foat Family Archives
Grass Roots of Racine County, pub. 197?? –Waterford Public Library History Room
Grassroots Heritage of Racine County, Waterford Public Library History Room – 997-GRA
Mrs. Carr Writes of Long Ago, Waterford Post Article, Jan. 8, 1925
New Photos by R.E. Gariepy, Sr.
Illustrated Atlas of Racine and Kenosha Counties, published by H.O. Brown & Co., Chicago, 1887.
Racine County Register of Deeds
Sanborn Fire Maps
Stories of Waterford and Its Busy Life, 1923 publication Waterford Post
Waterford Public Library Digital Archives
Waterford Post Microfiche files at Waterford Public Library
Waterford Tax Records – UW Parkside Archives