Main Street Historic District (Fort Atkinson)

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Main Street Historic District
0712 FA 0-99 block Main street even (west) side.JPG
Location Roughly Main St. from Sherman Ave. to S. 3rd St.
NRHP Reference # 84003683
Added to NRHP June 7, 1984

The Main Street Historic District in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, United States, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The district is composed of 51 buildings[1] on or within a block of Main Street.

Although many of the storefronts have been remodeled over the years, the original decorative brickwork is still visible on the upper levels of most buildings.


Main Street is the oldest street in Fort Atkinson. It was originally part of a military road that connected Fort Dearborn to Fort Winnebago. The first white settlers arrived in the 1830s and settled on both sides of the Rock River. Soon after, a wooden bridge was built linking North and South Main Streets.

From the 1840s to the 1870s, Main Street had mostly wood frame stores with wide shingled canopies resting on wooden posts. In the 1880s these small frame shops gave way to the buildings that exist today - two and three story brick buildings constructed with local cream brick, and adorned with fancy cornices and dentils. Canvas awnings replaced wooden canopies.[2]

Main street bridge[edit]

There have been three bridges crossing the Rock River at this location. Prior to the building of the first one in 1843, people and wagons would attempt to ford the river or were ferried across. City founder Dwight Foster operated the first ferry service using rafts and dugout canoes. The first bridge was a flimsy wooden structure built by local pioneers with material that were at hand. In 1870 an iron bridge costing $9,400 replaced it. A second iron bridge was built in 1881. In 1909 this structure was widened, with an elevated bandstand in the shape of a stockade constructed in the center. The present concrete bridge was built in 1917.

Notable buildings[edit]

The buildings include:[3]

  • 234 South Main - Built in 1888 as a furniture store, it was soon purchased by William D. Hoard for his expanding publishing company. Hoard had his office on the second floor. From 1910 to 1970 it was again used as a furniture store.
  • 238 South Main - Built in 1883. Used until 1908 as the Hoard printing plant. It was a hardware store from 1936 to 1980.
  • 9 Milwaukee Avenue West - Milo Jones built the Green Mountain House hotel in 1848. It was later known as the Higbee House, the Snove Hotel and Hotel Fort. In 1915 Frank Hoard and Harry Curtis built the Black Hawk Tavern adjoining the hotel. In 1929 the Green Mountain House was torn down and replaced by the present building.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jefferson County Historic Districts". Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  2. ^ "Main Street, Fort Atkinson". Hoard Historical Museum. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  3. ^ "Main Street Historic District" (Press release). Fort Atkinson Chamber of Commerce.