The town of Gordon, population 757, leapt onto Wisconsin’s Register of Historic Places last week with not one, but two properties.
Nominations for the A.D. Thompson cabin, a 1906 home that showcases rustic style, and the Antoine and Sarah Gordon house, built in 1859 by the founder of the town, were approved Friday, Aug. 20, by the Historic Preservation Review Board.
“They’re two very fantastic properties,” said Ian Gort, historic preservation specialist with the state historical society. “It’s an era of history that isn’t commonly explored.”
The Gordon sites join 23 Douglas County properties already listed on the state and national registers of historic places, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of those, 20 are in the city of Superior. The other three are the Lake Nebagamon Auditorium, the Davidson Windmill in the town of Lakeside and the Brule-St. Croix Portage in Solon Springs.
Roughly 40 properties a year are added to the historic register, Gort said. Board members meet quarterly to review them. The majority of those properties are also added to the national registry of historic places.
Board members appreciated the Gordon nominations. The A.D. Thompson Cabin was lauded for owner stewardship.
"It was a cool nomination, and it’s just really cool that this property. The family have been such good stewards of it and are so committed to stewardship of natural resources in the area as well,’ said Sissel Schroeder of Madison
“Although I’m new to the board, I have to say this nomination really spoke to me as well, just because of the nature of the structure and the fact that it has barely been altered by the owners since its construction,” said Ray Reser of Stevens Point.
The Antoine and Sarah Gordon house is a rare property associated with the transition of Chippewa, or Ojibwe, and Metis cultures after the end of the fur trade in Wisconsin, board members learned.
“I found this story fascinating,” said Donna Zimmerman of Amherst Junction. “I think it’s such an important part of our Wisconsin story, if you will, the Metis people. I frankly did not know much about this.”
Neither did Schroeder.
“My brother has a cabin that’s not too far from this, so reading it was just, gave me a sense of the history of that area that I did not know before,” the Madison woman said. “So really nicely written. Great story; great nomination.”
The two distinct Gordon sites, Zimmerman said, really put things in perspective.
Other properties approved by the board Friday included a Soo Line Railroad bridge in Eau Claire, the Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus and Park in the town of New Glarus, Fire Station No. 5 in La Crosse County and the Marshall & Ilsley Bank Building in Milwaukee.
The number of properties nominated has remained steady over the years, Gort said. They come from big cities or small towns, and each provides a lens to the past.
“Everybody’s history is significant to us,” Gort said. “We serve the state of Wisconsin. That means all histories are considered. It’s not just Milwaukee or Madison or Green Bay or La Crosse. It’s everywhere in between.”
Visit the Wisconsin Historical Society website for more information or to view the state and national registers of historic places. Recordings of board meetings are also available for viewing through the site.