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Agricultural Area (1845-1960s)

Farmers from the Brabant province of Belgium began immigrating to Northeastern Wisconsin around 1853, lured by Antwerp advertisements of farmland at $1.25 an acre and the promise of a French speaking population. These groups built sturdy houses, cultivated the land, and adjusted to life in America. Today, many residents of Northeastern Wisconsin trace their roots back to immigrants from Belgium, Poland, Germany, Scandinavia, and other European nations who settled here during the same period. More recently, migrants from other areas of the United States have moved to the area, bringing their own lived experiences to the region. One of these stories, that of the Spanish-speaking Texans who came to Wisconsin in the mid 20th century as agricultural migrant workers, is the newest story to be added to the park.

Belgian Farmhouse and Outbuildings

The farmhouse was originally built circa 1872 and relocated to Heritage Hill in 1984 from Rosiere. The construction style is log with a brick veneer. The summer kitchen is limestone and the other buildings feature log construction.

It is believed that the farmhouse was built after the October 8, 1871, Peshtigo Fire by the Massart family, who also built the summer kitchen and the small log structure, in Rosiere, Wisconsin. The farmhouse is a log house with brick veneer. The brick is red (probably from the area) and cream (probably from the lakeshore, possibly Milwaukee area) and added after the house was constructed in a “quoins” design. The house also features a bullseye window. All these elements are typical elements of Belgium homes in Northeast Wisconsin. The other buildings came from a variety of families and locations: the barn from the Lampereur family in Brussels, the pig barn from the Ivan Draize family in Luxemburg, and the chicken coop from the Julian Romwald family, all in Kewaunee County.

19th Century Farming in Wisconsin, a Heritage Hill Permanent Exhibit

Located in the Agricultural Area’s Barn.

Explore the story of farming in Northeast Wisconsin in the 19th century, its transition into the nation’s dairy land, and the roles of people and animals on the farm. Enjoy over 25 pieces of restored historic farm equipment, some of which has been adapted for safe use by visitors, and interactive flip panels for younger learners.

Listen to the history of the Belgian farmhouse and its outbuildings in Walloon, the native language of the first Belgians to settle in Northeast Wisconsin. Look for the audio signage outside the farmhouse, summer kitchen, and barn.

Roadside Chapel

Originally built in 1871 and relocated to Heritage Hill in 1983 from Duvall. The construction style is wood framed.

Roadside chapels such as this were often seen near many of the Belgian farms in Northeastern Wisconsin and can still be found throughout the region. They were a tradition brought over from Europe, where they also can still be seen. They served as a place for families to say daily prayers and as a place for travelers to stop for prayer and rest. This chapel was given to Heritage Hill by the Laluzerne Family of Duvall. Joseph Derenne, Mrs. Laluzerne’s father, built it after he was miraculously cured of cancer, a common reason for their construction.

The Migrant Cabin

Grand Opening May 4 2024!

Originally built in the mid-20th century and moved several times to rural locations throughout Oconto County. It was relocated to Heritage Hill in 2017 and underwent an extensive restoration process for the next five years before opening to the public in 2024. The construction style is a 3-season wood structure with a gable roof and made of manufactured wood panels.

 Bond Pickle Co. was a manufacturing company based out of Oconto County. Founded by five brothers in 1915, by 1938 they were the largest pickle manufacturing company in the U.S. Bond Village was created by Bond Pickle Co. and included a number of these migrant cabins, each measuring 24 x 14 feet, for the purpose of housing seasonal agricultural workers. The cabins had little furniture and workers often slept on the floor with no mattresses or bedding. Bond Village also included a communal village hall, where social gatherings were held and which functioned as a school during the summer months. This house, #8, stood for four decades in Bond Village before being moved to rural Oconto County in the 1980s.

Cheese Factory

Originally built in 1894 and relocated to Heritage Hill in 1994 from Kewaunee County. The construction style is wood framed.

The Cheese Factory was built in 1894 and located in Kewaunee County at a crossroad one mile southeast of Slovan. The original owner was A. Anashek who sold it to Joseph Adams and his wife Mary in 1895. They and their family operated it for many years before it changed hands several times, each owner operating it as a cheese factory. The cheese industry was integral in the development of small communities in Northeastern Wisconsin and small cheese factories like this one were a familiar sight in rural areas of the state at the turn of the 20th century.

The Cotton House

Originally built in the early 1840s and relocated to its present location in 1938 from Beaupre and Webster Avenues in Green Bay. The construction style is timber framed in the Greek Revival style.

The Cotton House was originally built on land owned by Louis Beaupre and purchased by John Cotton sometime in the early 1840s. The home belonged to the Cotton family until 1893. At that time, it was sold to J.W. Woodruff, who lived there until 1896 before selling it to the Catholic Diocese who used it as an orphanage until 1933. Between 1938 and 1941 the home was moved to its present location and restored by the Brown County Historical Society, opening as a museum in 1941. In 1977, the home became the focal point and inspiration for Heritage Hill. The Cotton House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Built in 1938 at its present location. The construction style is dry stacked limestone. 

During relocation of the Cotton House in 1938, human remains and a deteriorated military uniform with brass buttons were unearthed. They are believed to have belonged to a soldier from Camp Smith, a short-lived military installation located the site in 1820. The tomb, which was built in 1938, has a four-ton slab of granite from Amberg, Wisconsin, forming the floor and roof while the sides are made of concrete. A sarcophagus holding the remains is placed on a bench of hammered granite. Financed by Theodore Pamperin, today Heritage Hill State Historical Park honors the lives of all our country’s military servicemembers at the Tomb of this Unknown Soldier.