New Wade House center is a real jewel

NEARLY EVERYONE IN SHEBOYGAN County has been to the Wade House at least once in their life.

But whether it was for an event, a school field trip, to show visitors from out of town or just for personal interest, the Wade House we’ve been to in the past is not the Wade House we can visit starting this weekend.

That’s because the historic site is unveiling a brand new, thoroughly modern face to the world, one that beckons and welcomes and transports you into the past.

This weekend is the public opening of the new Visitors Center and Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum building on State 23.

The state-of-the-art facility promises to immerse visitors in the world of the 19th Century, when horses and wagons were the everyday means of transportation for people and goods and Greenbush’s Wade House, situated halfway between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac on the Old Plank Road, was a bustling center of commerce and activity.

The stunning $13.8-million, 38,000-square foot building will give the historic site great new visibility from busy State 23, and that is by design.

“The setting of the new facility is very strategic and purposeful,” David Simmons, director of the site, explained. “It is the high point of our 240-acre site, with one-third of a mile of frontage on State 23. It gives us great visibility on State 23.”

The displays in the new building are designed to interactively involve visitors of all ages, engaging their senses and literally transporting them back in time – and they do so successfully.

It begins with a stunning reproduction of an Eastern Concord stagecoach – similar to those that travelled the Old Plank Road back in the day - right inside the front door. Visitors will be able to sit in the stagecoach in front of a mural depicting arrival time at the Wade House and easily imagine what it was like to travel in the 1850s.

After completing the heavily-interactive carriage museum, visitors will step outside and be transported by wagon to the rest of the historic site, traveling in part over a re-creation of a section of plank road.

All of this is offered in a green and eco-friendly building that is on target to receive LEED silver level certification. It includes meeting and banquet rooms and facilities that will make it an attractive host for business and social functions, weddings and more.

The Wade House site expansion coincides with the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Wade House historic site, which was restored under the direction and inspiration of Ruth DeYoung Kohler.

Nearly half of the cost of new building came from private donations – a perfect example of public/private partnership that benefits everyone.

With the new building, the Wade House will go to year-round operations and expects an increase of 4,000 visitors a year.

They won’t be disappointed by what they come to see at the Wade House.

At issue:
New visitors center/museum
Bottom line:
Tremendous addition

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Bitter Neumann