Open house event to take place May 14, 2016

MADISON, WI. May 12, 2016—The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Wisconsin Main Street Program is pleased to announce a new collaborative event designed to showcase unique historic and cultural assets of Wisconsin downtowns. The 15 communities and 125 individual businesses and sites participating in the inaugural event offer the public the opportunity to tour and explore unique destinations, many of which are not usually open to the public.

For one day only, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, owners and operators of unique and iconic properties statewide will open their doors to the public for free viewing, tours and interpretive events. Communities large and small and venues old and new, including rooftops, museums, dungeons, forts, churches, theaters, event venues, residential lofts and other properties, will open their doors to Wisconsin residents and visitors free of charge.

With locations across the state, visitors can take advantage of the opportunity to get to know their local community better or plan a road trip to explore new Wisconsin destinations. Many of the participating communities also feature complementary activities for visitors, ranging from local business specials to carriage rides, costumed tour guides, author and artist demonstrations, music performances and local food tastings. A list of participating communities and sites is provided below. Interested parties may also visit to view a full list of sites and specials for each community.

Participating Communities and Sites


  • Historic conversions, behind-the-scenes utility tours, seldom-seen third floor Masonic meeting room.


  • Architec-Tour features open houses at seven iconic historic properties downtown, including recently renovated Wilmarth Mansion.


  • Historic walking tour and open house activities at local historic destinations including museums, courthouse and restaurants.

East Troy:

  • Guided tours of local museums and iconic structures, including haunted second floors of East Troy House and Ivan’s and cupola of East Troy Shell building.


  • Open house at local historic landmarks highlighting the founding of the community. Visit the Masonic Lodge, Holton House and Military Museum, among others.

Fond du Lac

  • Open house coinciding with the spring farmers’ market kickoff. Downtown destinations include Combined Building rooftop, Vintage second floor Castle Hall Ballroom and behind the scenes at Riverwalk Art Center.


  • More than 14 open house sites, many with tours, performances, activities and refreshments. Visit historic conversion projects, arts and cultural destinations and downtown loft spaces.

La Crosse:

  • Celebrate La Crosse’s downtown renaissance by visiting recent renovation projects including the Charmant Hotel, Pump House and Court Above Main. Self-guided and docent-led historic walking tours.

Marathon City

  • Family friendly business and community open house event. Activities include bounce house, open bowling and swimming, painting classes, bakery and landscape market.


  • Complete day of activities planned including movie screenings, photographic scavenger hunt, vintage car show, fashion show and open house at historic downtown destinations.


  • Behind the scenes guided tours of nationally-recognized historic Mabel Tainter Opera House and Louis Smith Tainter House.


  • Downtown-wide coordinated open house with events and activities. Downtown trolley rides and passport program offering specials at downtown businesses. Author readings, musical performances, artist demonstrations, vintage memorabilia displays and tours at more than 15 downtown venues.

Prairie du Chien:

  • Journey Through Time event featuring costumed characters strolling the street, horse-drawn carriages and musical performances. Fort Crawford celebrates 200th anniversary with cannon firing demonstrations, Villa Louis reduced rate admission, and more than 17 sites offer raffles, specials, tours and refreshments. Cap off the day with a Mark Twain Laughing River show at The Dousman House.


  • Celebrate Wabeno’s rich logging history with a walking tour, visit historic hotels and mansions built to support the local logging industry, explore local art galleries and community centers and take advantage of local business specials. Docent-led tours and camp cook presentations at the Logging Museum.


  • Visit River District historic icons featuring guided tours at local churches, walking tours of residential districts, admission to the Yawkey Museum and historic displays at the YWCA and Then and Now Photography. Business specials and Fan Fest at Wisconsin Woodchucks Athletic Park.


About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.