Hearthstone is the first house in the world to have electric lights powered by a centrally located hydroelectric station that used the Edison system. It began operation on September 30, 1882 with a generator situated in the beater room of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company. The three buildings that were lighted on that historic occasion were the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company owned by John Van Nortwick and run by Henry J. Rogers who owned the home on the bluff above, now known as Hearthstone, and Kimberly & Clark’s Vulcan Paper Mill located nearby. There was one other generator in the nation at the time, in New York City. It powered several business, but no homes – giving Hearthstone its distinctive title.
A tour of Hearthstone includes the Hands-On Hydro Adventure Center, with plenty of interactive activities for kids and grown-ups. And of course, old mansions are cool. Evening tours are available during Haunted Hearthstone and Victorian Christmas or by appointment.
Hearthstone is closed Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
General Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for Seniors or AAA members, $5 for kids 5-17, free for kids under 5.
Thursday — Friday: First tour begins at 10 am
Saturday: First tour begins at 11 am
Sunday: First tour begins at 1 pm
Tours are conducted every half hour with the last tour of the day beginning at 3:30 pm
You’ll find Hearthstone right along the Fox River near downtown Appleton along Highway 47. Highway 125 (College Avenue) and Highway 96 (Wisconsin Avenue) are just to the north; U.S. 10 and Highway 441 are just to the south and I-41 wraps around the west and north sides of the city. Plenty of ways to get there!
625 W. Prospect Avenue
(920) 730-8204 Website
This free zoo just north of downtown Manitowoc features over 200 animals, ranging from black bears and snow leopards to eagles and a prairie dog town that can occupy you for a while (they’re pretty cute.)
The Lincoln Park Zoo is open seven days a week except in winter, when it’s closed on Sundays.
1215 N. 8th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 683-4685 Website
Since Manitowoc is “Wisconsin’s Maritime Capital” (even one of the high schools has the nickname “Shipbuilders”), it’s only fitting that the Wisconsin Maritime Museum would be located in the city. Holding one of the nation’s most extensive collections of Great Lakes maritime artifacts and history, the museum prominently features the USS Cobia, a World War II submarine similar to the ones manufactured in the city. The Cobia is permanently berthed in the river and can not only be toured, but kids and parents can bunk down for overnight stays during monthly events!
Other exhibits include the Children’s Waterways Room, the Maritime History Gallery, an Aquatic Species Investigation Lab, and “Treasures of NOAA’s Ark”, which offers a look at Wisconsin’s underwater treasures. The museum is a big part of the effort to turn the Lake Michigan coast from Port Washington to Two Rivers into a national marine sanctuary.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-15, and free for kids 5 and under. Other discounts are available for military, AAA members, senior citizens, and families.
The museum’s hours vary by season:
• Spring (Mid March – June): 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
• Summer (July – August): 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
• Fall (September – October): 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
• Winter (November – Mid March): ◦Weekdays: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
◦ Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
They are closed New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
75 Maritime Drive
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 684-0218 Website
The Rahr West Art Museum sits just north of downtown Manitowoc along northbound U.S. 10/Business 42 (8th Street) in an 1893 Queen Anne mansion. The mansion was originally built for Joseph Vilas, a successful merchant and two-time mayor of the city (UW-Madison students will recognize his name on their communication building.)
A museum since 1941, the Rahr West features a variety of art collections including a rare porcelain sculptures, original furnished 1930s dollhouses, and period furniture throughout the museum’s many rooms. Special exhibitions are regularly held, as is Sputnik Fest, which commemorates a piece of the Soviet satellite landing in the street in front of the museum in 1962.
The Rahr West’s hours are 10am-4pm Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm Saturdays and Sundays. They are closed Mondays.
610 N. 8th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 686-3090 Website