Weston's Antique Apple Orchard

Also known as: Weston Family Farm
19760 W. National Ave., New Berlin, Wisconsin

An original dairy farm turned apple orchard located at the summit of Prospect Hill

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Photo taken by J.R. Manning in May 2016

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Description 

"Weston's Antique Apples is a small apple orchard situated on Prospect Hill in Waukesha County, 12 miles west of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prospect Hill was one of the first three settlements in Waukesha County. Presently it is the site of a grouping of historic buildings listed as historic landmarks by the City of New Berlin Landmarks Commission. . .It is a triangular, 10-acre site, sloping down steeply to the north from the Milwaukee-Janesville road, now called National Avenue and designated County Hwy ES. Two lots in the northeast corner of the triangular plot were taken in the 1850s for a school site and the site of the extant Freewill Baptist Church. The north boundary of the property is Barton Road. Ranged along the uphill edge of the property, parallel to National Avenue and beginning from the east, the buildings include a frame, Craftsman-style house, built by local builder George Koeffler in 1910, a frame, gambrel-roofed, bank-basement dairy barn with a stone foundation, built in 1906, and a long narrow non-contributing building consisting of a two-story section that was once the center section of a Janesville 11 chicken house, flanked by a greenhouse and double garage.

"Between the barn and the former chicken house are two additional small noncontributing structures, a water tank, used to fill an orchard sprayer, and a corrugated metal shed that houses a hydraulic lift used in picking apples, both dating from the 1950s (after the end of the period of significance.) Buildings that contribute to the historic significance of the property include the house and barn, which are intact in their original condition except for an inconspicuous addition at the rear of the house. The property is locally significant in Agriculture for its buildings and for two landscape features that recall the history of apple culture in New Berlin: a very old orchard which recalls a feature of the typical Wisconsin farmstead from the earliest settlements, and a small commercial orchard, typical of many in the vicinity of New Berlin in the first part of this century. Unlike other orchards which survive and a few which have been established since 1940, the Weston orchard preserves the varieties of the original farm orchard and as it was expanded, has specialized in historic apple varieties."

Excerpted from the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form prepared by Jane Eiseley, November 11, 1995.

Weston's Antique Apple Orchard 

Written by Jane Eiseley for the National Park Service

The apple trees themselves represent two stages of apple production in Wisconsin: the home orchard (approximately 1840 to 1900) which "began in pioneer days when settlers brought in fruit trees or seeds to plant a home orchard, and continued through the testing of varieties in an effort to find kinds that would be hardy in this state." ("The Three Periods of Horticultural History in Wisconsin" by Geographer Carl Sauer.) A second stage of apple culture in the state began in the 1890s with the establishment of experiment stations and the planting of large commercial orchards.

A third stage of development began in the 1920s with expansion of horticultural research, a reduction in the variety of apples grown, and the increasing dependance [sic] of orchardists on spraying and disease-resistant varieties due to invasions of apple scab and the codling moth. While the equipment of the Weston orchard encompasses the beginning of the third stage of apple production, the orchard and buildings are the result of a deliberate effort to preserve an early home orchard and the varieties of apples that existed in stage one, and the relatively small- scale planting of improved varieties for marketing that occured [sic] in stage two. In respect to size of the trees the Weston orchard is of interest because it is almost entirely "standard" size trees, which can live for 100 years or more, whereas commercial apple orchards today consist of dwarf trees that are much shorter-lived. Today the Weston orchard represents the evolution of apple culture in Wisconsin and particularly on the urban fringe of Milwaukee around New Berlin, as well as the Weston's antiquarian interest in apple varieties.

The catalog issued by Weston's Antique Apples lists 74 varieties, with dates varying from the Calville Blanc d'Hiver (1598) and the Gravenstein (1600) to the Jonagold (1968.) Included are a number known in colonial and Revolutionary War-era America, such as the Black Gilliflower (late 1700s,) the Snow/Fameuse (1730s,) and the Esopus Spitzenburg (1790.) Also represented are the Russian apples introduced late in the 19th century during the search for hardy varieties, such as the Alexander (1700,) the Duchess of Oldenberg (early 1700s,) and the Red Astrachan (1780,) and the American apple whose story is known to every schoolchild, the Jonathon (1826.) Deliberate crosses, produced through horticultural research include Red Gold (1930,) Cortland (1926,) and Mutsu/Crispin (1928) as well as more recently developed apple varieties.

Excerpted from the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form prepared by Jane Eiseley, November 11, 1995.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on September 6, 1996
Reference number
96000989
Architectural style
American Movement: Bungalow/Craftsman
Area of significance
Agriculture
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Site
Historic functions
Animal facility; Agricultural fields; Single dwelling
Current functions
Animal facility; Agricultural fields; Single dwelling
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2
Contributing sites: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 2
Non-contributing structures: 1

Update Log 

  • May 20, 2016: Essay added by J.R. Manning

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