"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Olbrich Botanical Gardens has many great events throughout the year. In December I went to their Holiday Express. In mid-summer the conservatory is full of butterflies! They get shipments of butterflies still in their Chrysalis, and they emerge inside Bolz Conservatory. They are emerging inside this case, then are released when ready.
Here are a couple that just hatched and are drying their wings. Those are Gulf Fritillary. Here are six others I saw, the one on the purple cone flower was outside.
There were others, but many were not yet out of their crysalis yet. To attract more butterflies to your yard, here is an idea they shared with us.
The outdoor gardens were just as beautiful in full summer bloom.
A long time was spent restoring the Larson House in McFarland, and last fall there was a sneak preview of progress made up to that point. The grand opening was May 24-25th of this year.
John Larson was the 3rd owner of this house. He bought it in 1911 and has been in the family over 100 years. Now it is open and ready for tours from 1-4 PM between Memorial and Labor Day. Tours are free but donations encouraged, a few books about the house and McFarland history are also for sale.
We begin our tour as we go inside, we see the beautiful stained glass window you see here at the stairway landing.
On the main floor is also the living room (picture by Larson House staff) and the kitchen.
Pantry in the kitchen
Also the Parlor and Dining Room. The wallpaper is original to the home!
On the left side of the room is John Larson’s Psalmodikon instrument from Norway, his homeland. Here is what is sounds like. It is a one-string instrument that can be either plucked or played with a violin bow.
Now we head upstairs to see the other rooms.
The largest is what may have been the master bedroom, and it is octagon-shaped, a popular feature at the time. Hanging up is a Norwegian dress. The three windows are facing the street.
Another bedroom. The bureau and mirror are original to the house.
Our tour here has reached it’s conclusion. We really enjoyed our visit here and we hope to come for any special events here in the future.
McFarland is a village of 7800 just 8 miles south of Madison along the shore of Lake Waubesa. It was founded by William McFarland in 1856. We have been here many times, but never really explored this town in depth.
Before reaching downtown, exit 51 at Sigglekow Rd. for a great meal at the Green Lantern, a popular restaurant on Lake Waubesa for decades. You can even get there by water and dock on their long pier!
One thing we noticed is this town has an “old” and “new” downtown. The new is along highway 51, streight down from Madison.
Across from here is the popular Babcock Park and campground. A historical marker is also in this park, for Stephen Babcock.
Highway 51 is also a Blue Star Memorial Highway, dedicated to all vets.
The old downtown is on Main Street, by the railroad track. Here we find the historic buildings and a brief history of McFarland.
Left of the sign was the McFarland House, now the McFarland House Cafè (closed on Sundays). It was the home of founder William T. McFarland.
We were going to have lunch here. Since they were closed, we went next door to the McFarland Tavern. This historic building was built in 1895 and began as a convenience store and has even been a post office before becoming a tavern. Friendly folks and great food made us feel welcome here. You feel like you are a part of historic McFarland here.
Another historic building across the street, the Ole S. Olson building from 1897. It was a convenience store and then a grocer later. Now it is McFarland Antiques.
Across the street is the Ed Reed Building from 1900. It had been a grocery store, meat market, and has been Spartan Pizza since 1974!
Now the most exciting reason for our visit, the historic John Larson House Museum, open for the first time after restoration this summer! They are open 1-4 on Sundays from Memorial day weekend through Labor Day weekend. This is a stained glass window inside the house at the stairway landing. We took a tour here and it was fascinating! We hope to come back for any special events they will have later in the year.