Nineteenth century homes are sprawled about this great state. Heck, I spent a good portion of my childhood in one…well, our house didn’t exude the opulence of the residence I toured today. Yet, when one surveys these buildings, which have stood proud through the years, a mind can’t help but feel a bit of reverence. They are, after all, testaments to the rise of communities, our state and the nation as a whole.
My endeavor took me to the Breyer Home in Oconto, WI. Today, the home reflects the Queen Ann Rennaisonce Revival style, which was very popular in the 1890s. However, our docent mentioned that the home’s original architectural style predated that. She stated that the structure was of Italianate design and built in 1868- which would have made the home a survivor of the Peshtigo Fire. Whatever the case, the interior and exterior scream Victorian Age.
I mentioned that this nineteenth century house is in Oconto. This particular town stands along the Oconto River, residing around thirty miles north of Green Bay, and most of the town is a splinter inland from a Lake Michigan bay. From native American inhabitants to lumbering prominence, this little town has a storied past.
And, sharing a plot of land with the Beyer Home, in a building known as the Carriage House, there is a small museum depicting that past. This museum pays homage to Native Americans, as well as the town’s settlers. And actually, there is a lot of exhibits hailing from between now and then.
I found old cars,
horse drawn vessels,
and prominent leaders…along with some military relics thrown in for good measure.
We then headed towards the home, where photos hung from the walls. Not only did they tell the story of the Beyer House, they delved into the history of Oconto. I wonder if their ghosts accompanied me along the way.
Were they curiously studying me as I meandered through the ornate parlors,
or the elegant dining room?
Maybe they followed me into the servant’s kitchen….
or maybe the servant’s quarters.
Hopefully, they didn’t mind my quick peek at their canopy bed.
After the full tour, there was an added bonus: a brief glimpse at a pioneer cabin.
When situated near a historic home of the affluent, the stark contrast of a log cabin sits well within my being.
The bare bones of this rudimentary hovel cries that life in the Midwest was very much one of survival for most, and not a cultured endeavor.
When I’m done, I’m happy I made the stop. The house was certainly interesting and the restoration is to be applauded. And I’m also glad that the Oconto Historical Society included a museum and log cabin, among a few other things I didn’t mention, along with their mansion of old. When the entire community is included, it adds a certain vitality to the longstanding house’s aura.