Honey Creek Swiss Rural Historic District

NW of Prairie du Sac, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin

"...an extraordinarily compact and homogeneous ethnic settlement..."

Photos 

Typical District Farmstead

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2019

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Map 

Description 

Honey Creek Swiss Rural Historic District

Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, a 98 page document prepared by Jane Eisley, Research Assistant and Prof. William Tishler of the University of Wisconsin, December 1, 1987. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."

"INTRODUCTION

"The Honey Creek Rural Historic District is nationally significant under Criterion A as an extraordinarily compact and homogeneous ethnic settlement, being an area of approximately 12 square miles comprising 46 farmsteads and 12 other sites where German-speaking Swiss from the Walser area of Canton Graubuenden have had a 145-year history of continuous adaptation and development...

"Lending a unique character to the district is a group of eight nearly identical stone houses constructed between 1857 and 1884. Six of these and a stone church built in 1875, previously listed in the National Register, display a masonry pattern attributed to three masons prominent in the history of the district.

"The block and stack masonry pattern - 1861-1884 The stonework seen on six of the gabled ell houses, and on the Ragatz Church, as well as several buildings in the area east of the district, appears to be unique to the area around Sauk City. The pattern consists of large ashlar blocks, coursed and placed bed-faced in the wall, alternating with stacks of smaller stones, roughly finished and laid edge-faced. Raised ribbon pointing surrounds the large stones and also crosses the stacks of small stones at intervals. The effect is of an ashlar wall laid in an unusually geometric pattern. Closer examination shows that the large blocks have been given a bush-hammered, stippled surface. The smaller stones are irregular in shape and surface, but are made to seem more finished by the use of the ribbon pointing...

"The pattern has been definitely associated with only three masons, each of whom was a member of one of the first families to settle in the district. John Peter Felix and Peter Kindschi came as children from Graubuenden, arriving in the 1840s. Caspar Steuber came in 1853 from Waldeck, in Germany, to join cousins who had already married into the Swiss group. The Ragatz church history and local family traditions associate the three with the building of the church (Salem Evangelical Church of Honey Creek, site #21) in 1875. The church has been previously listed in the National Register. At least one other building which exhibits the pattern has been definitely associated with each of the three masons individually."

Editor's Note: In the thirty years since this document was prepared, numerous changes have occurred in the district but many of the referenced structures remain as described. Other examples of this masonry technique, both inside and outside the district boundaries, were not included in the district, for unknown reasons.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 6, 1990
Reference number
89000484
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Side gabled
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - European; Exploration/Settlement; Architecture; Agriculture
Levels of significance
National; State; Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
District
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Natural feature; Animal facility
Current functions
Natural feature; Single dwelling; Animal facility
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1825-1849
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 183
Contributing structures: 26
Contributing sites: 4
Non-contributing buildings: 257
Non-contributing structures: 84
Non-contributing sites: 6

Update Log 

  • August 4, 2019: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • August 4, 2019: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added description and added photos

Sources