Last week we wrote about the complete reconstruction of Main Street in downtown Watertown exactly 50 years ago.

The reconstruction project was a huge one that left many businesses inaccessible from their front doors for many weeks while the entire roadbed was removed, along with all the curb and gutter and sidewalks as well.

The street literally became a no man’s land while the new electrical, sewer, water and other utilities were being replaced as part of the reconstruction.

The businesses had to work on ingenious ways to get people to their stores. They offered special deals, made back entrances more accessible, and in addition the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce and a downtown business group came up with some giveaways. The biggest prize was a new Rambler which was given away at the culmination of the project which had the theme “Save While We Pave” campaign. The car giveaway came at the completion of the project on Saturday, Sept. 23. The winners were Mr. and Mrs. John Kreuziger of Watertown.

The parade was over 130 units long and thousands of people lined the beautiful new white cement streets. It was a beautiful, sunny day, just perfect for a parade, a car giveaway and much more.

Kicking off the festivities was the traditional ribbon-cutting by Mayor Mike Bentzin. Dignatories at the ribbon-cutting also included state Rep. Byron Wackett of Watertown, U.S. Sen. Bill Proxmire of Madison and U.S. Rep. Bob Kastenmeier of Watertown.

Andy McFarland was the grand marshal of the parade and Bill Kehl served as parade marshal.

The parade was one of the largest ever in the city, rivaling the traditional Fourth of July events. Drum and bugle corps, clowns, bands, marching units and many others were included in the parade.

In connection with the parade and the weekend celebration, a “City Miss” contest was held with seven young ladies vying for the title. The ladies were out in full force selling “Watertown Booster” buttons and the person selling the most buttons being declared the winner. The “City Miss” winner was Kathy Schmutzler. She rode in the parade in a convertible. The other contestants were also in the parade.

The concept of the pots filled with flowers and lining Main Street during the warmer seasons actually got started as part of the Main Street reconstruction project. Downtown business people together raised money which was to be used for a beautification project when the new Main Street was completed. Over $9,000 was raised for the planters which were installed in the spring of 1968.

All in all, it was quite an event. But, before we move on to another topic, adjacent to this column we are printing a few pictures from that summer when Main Street looked like a war zone. Enjoy them.

$10.5 million home

If you’re looking for the perfect home and you happen to have an extra $10.5 million laying around doing nothing, you won’t have to travel far to have your wish come true.

Just last month a property known as Bullen’s Castle, located at 35308 Pabst Road, Oconomowoc, went up for sale for the price of $10.5 million.

The property, which includes a mansion, a castle, 7.2 acres of property fronting on Oconomowoc Lake’s southern shore and a private island, is sure to have some lookers. The sale is being handled by Coldwell Banker Elite.

The home has 16,000 square feet of living space and includes six bedrooms, six full bathrooms and another four part bathrooms. The property includes over 800 feet of lake frontage.

The current owners purchased the property in 2014 at a price of $2.4 million. Since that time the owners have completely remodeled the home, adding about 6,000 square feet of living space on the west side which includes 72 solar panels.

The offering price is the highest ever for a home in southeastern Wisconsin.

The property originally consisted of a 100-acre parcel and was purchased by Increase A. Lapham, who named it Minnewoc. Lapham was an author, scientist and naturalist and one of the earliest weather forecasters in the state. He was also a surveyor of what today is Aztalan State Park in the town of Aztalan.

Lapham died in September of 1875, apparently from a heart attack while in his rowboat on Oconomowoc Lake, at the property he cherished.

After his death, Lapham’s daughter, Julie, sold the property to George Bullen, a Chicago malt tycoon. That was in 1888. Four years later Bullen built the home under the direction of Louis Flotow. Bullen died in 1910 and at the time the entire property, the home and approximately 100 acres of land had a total value of about $56,000.

The property was later parceled off but a large 7.2-acre section of the land was kept with the mansion.

If you’re interested in seeing a few photos of this amazing property check out this Zillow website, which offers 73 photos:

It’s impressive to say the least.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.