Wisconsin Towns and Places

Oconomowoc - summer retreat, a place to wander

I agree with the Visit Oconomowoc website: it is a great place to wander. Its name is derived from the Potawatomi term for “gathering of the waters.”  This is a view of City Hall.

The historic downtown has retained its 19th-century charm. Many buildings and homes are listed on the Register of Historic Places.

The city is a lakeside town. It sits on two lakes, Lac la Belle and Fowler Lake, separated by an isthmus connecting the city's two sides.  They are small lakes but good for fishing, boating, and swimming. This is a view of Zion Episcopal Church on Fowler Lake. It is on a choice piece of property. The Romanesque church opened in 1888.

The Veterans Memorial Park is on the southern part of the isthmus, on Lac la Belle. It is an impressive park, dedicated in 2015. It was carefully designed. It opens with old fort-style masonry and a walkway known as “Freedom Walk” that leads around a fountain to a small memorial garden. Freedom Walk is shaped as a five-point star representing the five military services. A “flying” steel arch connected to a compression ring signifying the unity of the military services. There is also a curved  “Honor Walk” meant to exhibit the names of those who served.

You are looking up East Wisconsin Ave, a main street in the city. the beige building to the left was constructed in 1885. It is home to the Oakbrook-Esser Studios. It creates the highest quality architectural stained and leaded glass art. It has done work for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation as an example.

To the right is Sobie’s Restaurant. The owners are Mike and Lydia Sobie. They work to cook from scratch using local agriculture.

There is a nice boardwalk downtown along the shore of Fowler Lake, at a parking lot on the north side of East Wisconsin Ave.

The Avenue Square Mall is also on East Wisconsin Ave.  It is an enclosed shopping/commerce center across from historic City Hall, as shown in the opening photo.  It offers options in dining, shopping, and services.

This is a painful story, as I am a great fan of Irish Pubs. This one, known as “The Pub” on Main Street, closed in May 2021 after 20 years. The building hosting The Pub was put up in 1891. With tears running down my cheeks, you might wish to go to an ad for the operation posted by Oconomowoc Realty LLC. It shows the interior top to bottom. I’ll have to keep my eyes open to see if someone grabs it.

This is a hoot.  Oconomowoc was one of the first towns to screen the "Wizard of Oz" movie in 1939. As a result, there are life-size figures on East Wisconsin Ave. of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch, the Wizard, and Toto.

The following few photos have intrigued me. They are private properties that caught my attention during my visit to Oconomowoc.

To start, this is a magnificent home on N. Lake Rd. It once was the Oconomowoc Masonic Center. The Kohl family theater owned it n 1920.  Lodge No. 42 of the Free and Accepted Masons, known as the Royal Arch Masons, bought it in 1922. The Brisk family now owns it. It is bound to catch your attention when driving on N. Lake Rd. Many from the area view it from it decked out with Christmas decorations during the season.

A friend took me to this area of Oconomowoc,  the Pine Terrace Neighborhood. At the time, I did not know what I was seeing. Focus on the distant beige building center photo, just above the top of the parked car. Let me zoom in and show you.

This is the Inn at Pine Terrace. It is one of the most historical locations in town, dating back to 1879. It has been operating as a hotel since 1925. It was initially a private summer residence.

The Inn’s website tells us,

“The home was modeled on the design of a French nobleman’s castle near Vienna. The original owners were wagon builders from Chicago who named their estate Mon Bijou which translates as My Jewel. Mon Bijou remained in the Schuttler family for more than 40 years and hosted notable visitors throughout that time.

“In the 1920s, the home was sold and began its life as the Pine Terrace Resort. The inn property consisted of 150+ acres stretching down to Fowler Lake and the home acted as the centerpiece of the popular lakefront resort.”

If you walk straight down the sidewalk toward East Greenland Ave and cross it, you will see the entrance to a park. The park is marked as private property. It is for those who are staying at the Inn at Pine Terrace. It is small but beautiful, on the edge of Fowler Lake.

It has a gazebo, park benches, and wonderful city and lake views.