You Can Find a “Sense of Place” in the Stories of Fond du Lac and the Lake Winnebago Region
Fond du Lac and the Lake Winnebago Region welcomes you to Legendary Wisconsin Hospitality and a destination rich in history with attractions that tell the stories of this area. We suggest you start your exploration with a historic walking or driving tour. Choose one of the self-guided tours that take you through the city’s downtown, historic districts, and throughout the county. Sites are featured for their variety of architectural interest and historical significance.
So Much to See
Make a stop at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, originally built in 1866 with local stone until fire claimed it and the “new” church was rebuilt in 1885. Early acquisitions include the pulpit created by a local stone carver, a brass eagle lectern and the German-Victorian carvings from Munich that include the Twelve Apostles, St. Paul and twenty-five angels. You may need to contact the parish to make sure the church is open when you plan to visit.
The mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, an inspiring and beautiful site just across the Fond du Lac River from the vibrant Downtown DistrictNext stop is the Galloway House and Village offering two and three hour guided or self-guided tours featuring the Mansion surrounded by nearly 30 historic buildings, including a train depot, church, and schoolhouse. The Mansion, begun in 1847 and completed in the 1870s, is a showpiece of gracious living and entertaining. It still has many of the original period furniture pieces. Although the family had a cook and servants, Mrs. Galloway served her dinner guests herself. The site is open May through October.
To learn more about the stories of the people who settled along the Niagara Escarpment and those who farmed the land visit the Malone Heritage Center which tells the stories of the immigrants to this “Holyland” region of Wisconsin. One of the two buildings that make up the museum is the original train depot for Malone. It shows the development of the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railroad. The other building contains artifacts of the farming and the stories of the people who worked the land. It has limited hours so check online before you stop.
Just east of Fond du Lac you’ll find the Wade House & Carriage Museum where you’ll return to the time of stagecoach travel and visit a community built by Yankee pioneers and European immigrants. Authentic costumed historical interpreters guide visitors through the stagecoach hotel which served weary travelers along the Plank Road. Take a horse-drawn wagon through the site at the true 19th-century pace. Explore 70 horse and hand-drawn vehicles from 1870 to 1915 all restored to their former glory at the Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum. You can have a bite to eat in their café during summer hours.
To the west travel to Ripon to The Little White School House designated a National Historic Site. This simple frame schoolhouse built in 1853 holds a powerful history. Acting on their convictions the local men and women became members of a new political party and, thus, this became the birth site of the Republican Party. This dedicated following organized and vowed to fight against the spread of slavery. Tours can be arranged to find out more about the political history, the story of one room school houses in Wisconsin, the founding of Ripon and the people who settled here during the 19th Century.
World Class Art
Just to the south of Fond du Lac is Waupun, The City of Sculpture, known to have one of the highest concentrations of public art per capita in the United States. This timeless legacy is due to the love of art by industrialist Clarence Shaler whose story dates back to the Mackford Prairie farmers in the late-1800s. “The End of the Trail” sculpture depicts the plight of Native Americans who were displaced across our country. It was unveiled in 1929 and became a Wisconsin landmark on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1975. One sculpture spent 30 years in the basement of the University of Wisconsin before it found a home in Waupun. There is a map available of eight of the sculptures to visit by car or on foot.
Spend a Few Days
Fond du Lac offers a variety of family-friendly hotels. Positioned as a core attribute to the revitalization of downtown Fond du Lac surrounded by entertainment, arts, shopping and nightlife, The Hotel Retlaw, opening soon, will be one of the preferred settings for business and upscale girlfriend getaways, reunions and weddings. The hotel’s history will be featured in the stories told by its staff and on display in photographs throughout the property. Owned and operated by Legendary Hotels LLC, it will offer guests an unscripted experience with a service culture of excellence. The Retlaw is located just two miles from Lakeside Park.
Lakeside Park has more than 400 acres of open recreational space on the shores of Lake Winnebago. It features a steam locomotive, antique carousel, and miniature train. The Lighthouse built in 1933 has an observation deck for a great view of the surrounding land and lake. Be sure to have a photo taken in front of the Lighthouse!
For more information about Fond du Lac and Lake Winnebago region go to www.fdl.com.