Milton properties nominated as national historic places

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Andrea Behling
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MILTON—Many features of the Goodrich House at 742 E. Madison Ave., Milton, have remained untouched for nearly 150 years.

The interior staircase and Cream City brick facade are original from when it was built in 1867. The three-story house was built by Ezra Goodrich, son of Milton's founder Joseph Goodrich.

“It's an absolutely beautiful house,” said Terry Williamson, co-owner of the house.

The Goodrich House is one of two properties recently nominated as historic sites on the National Register of Historic Places. The other nominated property is the Masonic Temple, 508 Vernal Ave., Milton.

The Milton Historic Preservation Commission hired Whitewater Historical Society consultant Carol Cartwright to conduct a comprehensive survey and nominate Milton sites for national designation. The Milton Historical Society has received $38,000 in grants since 2011 to nominate the sites. The nominations fulfill one of the commission's goals to recognize historic Milton sites.

The last survey, done in the 1970s, added a number of Milton properties to the registry, said Cori Olson, Milton House Museum executive director.

Milton has 13 properties and historic districts listed in the national registry, including Milton House at 18 S. Janesville St., which also is a National Historic Landmark.

Rock County had 137 properties listed on the national registry from 1966 to 2012, according to the National Park Service website, nps.gov.

Milton Historic Preservation Commission looks to nominate 12 more properties and 15 historic districts for the national registry, said Inga Cushman, assistant to the city administrator.

“It's a prestigious award to win for the property itself,” Olson said.

The historic preservation commission meets today to discuss the next steps in the nomination process. The commission might not know if the Goodrich House and the Masonic Temple are added to the national list until September, Olson said.

The listing doesn't protect the properties from being torn down or modified by the owners, she said. But owners might be eligible for tax breaks through the state if the properties need to be restored, she said.

“We would hope anybody who has these properties in the future would be willing to cherish it because it is registered,” Olson said.


When the Williamsons bought the Goodrich House, they took the preservation of its historical elements seriously, Terry Williamson said.

“We will not be doing anything to alter the house. We want it to stay preserved like it was from day one,” she said.

The Goodrich House is home to an antique shop run by Williamson and her husband Joe. For 17 years, the two have run a larger antique shop nearby in Goodrich Hall, 501 College St. They live on the upper floor of Goodrich Hall, which already has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Goodrich House is a distinctive Italianate style house, but its additional half story distinguishes it from typical designs, according to "Cartwright's Architectural and Historical Survey of Milton, Wisconsin." The house has varying window sizes, including arched and oculus windows, according to the survey. It's eligible for the registry because of its style and association to a notable person, Ezra Goodrich, according to the survey.

The Williamsons were looking to downsize their business when they bought the Goodrich House from the historical society in 2013.

The Milton Historical Society acquired the house around 1970 and the Williamsons bought it in 2013 after it sat vacant for about four years.

The two hope to run their antique shop at the Goodrich House for as long as they can, Terry Williamson said.


The Masonic Temple is home to the Milton Masonic Lodge No. 161.

Fraternal groups were important in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, according to "Cartwright's Architectural and Historical Survey of Milton, Wisconsin." The halls were places where businessmen networked, made deals and acted as civic leaders to discuss and decide community issues, according to the survey.

The Masonic Temple at 508 Vernal Ave. is a brick classical revival building built in 1916. It's one of two fraternal halls built by old Milton and Milton Junction Masons and Odd Fellows that still exist.

The building is eligible for the national registry because it “was an important historic social gathering place,” according to the survey.

Since the Milton Masonic Lodge has been in the building, they've done a number of upgrades to the building and plan to remodel the basement, said Worshipful Master Jim Gajdosik.

But they don't plan to make substantial changes to the building's original features.

“We take pride in our building. We plan on keeping it that way,” he said.

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