You can't hide the good bones of well-built structure
This house, located at 122 N. Esterly Ave. in Whitewater, was built in 1885 for G.W. Esterly behind his Main Street home. The two-story cream city brick building was in the Italian vernacular style. The overhang cornice and decorative roof brackets match his residence. It had windows, doors and gas lights like most houses in the community and was described as the “finest barn in Whitewater.”
G.W. Esterly was the son of George Esterly, the manufacturer of farm machinery. G.W. was president of the village in 1868. You can tell by this structure and his house facing Main Street that he was a man of means. He headed the harvester works when the operation moved to Minneapolis in 1892.
In 1919, Easton Johnson, a local attorney, purchased both of Esterly's buildings and decided to live in the carriage house. He sold the house to President Hyer of the Normal School, which later became the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Johnson put a basement in the carriage house. He added a porch, new entrance and sun room and converted the building to an eight-room home, but left most of the building as it was.
Johnson lived in this community almost 60 years. He was president of the Commercial Bank until the 1970s.
This building is one of the few existing brick carriage houses in the state.
Ginny Hall, a historian from Delavan, is author of the “Walking around ...” and “Meandering ... ” books, which highlight the history of Walworth County communities.