Wisconsin Towns and Places


Grafton is in Ozaukee County.  It once hosted Paramount Records. The Paramount Plaza in town celebrates that.

Ayres Associates has written this,

“The plaza celebrates the Village’s strong tie to the African-American jazz and blues recording industry from the 1920s and 1930s when Paramount Records recorded in Grafton. The plaza honors artists recorded in Grafton with the Paramount Plaza Walk of Fame. The walk consists of 44 black granite “piano keys” in a field of white concrete. Beginning with six original inductees at the plaza’s opening, the Village has inscribed additional keys annually with artists’ names that recorded for Paramount Records.”

The town is nestled along the Milwaukee River. This, too, is a historic town.  Grafton is only a few miles away from Lake Michigan. It is in a great location, close to Beautiful Cedarburg and Port Washington. This is a great area to visit.

The Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is nearby, on the lake, with splendid and easy walking trails and fantastic views of the lake and the bluffs along the trails.

One of the first things I saw when I came to town was this sculpture. It told me this was a neat community, filled with color and life.

Speaking of bicycles, a local snack bar had these standing out front. They were for rent in case I wanted to ride around town!

The Milwaukee ale house sits on the Milwaukee River with indoor and outdoor dining. It features hand-crafted food and beer.

This is one of several old buildings in Grafton. It is Solari's home, a salon, a barbershop, and the Blooming’ Olive, offering fresh flowers for any occasion. It is family owned and operated.

This is the Grafton Mill, built in 1846 as a flour mill. It caught fire, the mill went bankrupt, and it was converted to manufacture worsted yarns. The Rueben family ran it and always imported the best machinery available. It is now known as the Grafton Arts Mill. It houses several artists’ studios. It also hosts a yarn store and other local businesses, including a beautiful place to grab a cup of roasted coffee. It is a neat place to visit.

This photo shows what’s left of a six-story tower on the west side of the building. It once held a wooden water tank.

Grafton has done an excellent job preserving and improving its older buildings. Some are now apartments; some are now for local businesses. Here are a few.

Lime Kiln Park

Lime Kiln Park in Grafton is a fascinating and beautiful area to visit.

Intense cordwood fires were built at the bottom of the kilns; trams dumped limestone downward, the fires kept burning and a  chemical reaction would produce a form of lime called quicklime (calcium oxide), the main ingredient of cement.

The park area was once part of a limestone quarry. Originally there were five kilns in a row. A spur of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway was built to expedite the outgoing shipment of lime. The kilns stopped operating in the 1920s.

There is also an interesting bridge in the park. It is known as the “Bridge Street Bridge.” It once spanned the Milwaukee River that runs through the town; It served the Grafton area for 11 decades. It was moved as one entire piece, an incredible feat.

The Milwaukee River flows through the park. There once was a dam, but it was removed in 2010. It is now a favorite fishing spot and a beautiful area to watch.