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Historical / architectural resources survey, Village of Thiensville, Ozaukee County
([2003])

Chapter 9: arts, culture, entertainment & recreation,   pp. 50-52


Page 50

Historical and Architectural Resources Survey
Village of Thiensville                                                            Page 50
CHAPTER 9
Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Recreation
Research uncovered only passing references to benevolent and fraternal organizations, such as the
Masons, involved in the cultural and social fabric of Thiensville. However, the village's citizens
have enjoyed a variety of both formal and informal social activities throughout the village's history.
Like most settlements in southeastern Wisconsin in the 1840s and 1850s, the tavern was the center
of local entertainment. Unlike their modem counterparts, taverns of this period were hotels and inns
established as wayside stops for travelers along primitive roads such as the Green Bay Road that
connected Milwaukee with Green Bay. The early tavern offered food and shelter and served as a sort
of communications hub for exchanging regional news. In conjunction with these roles, the tavern
was also regarded as the social center of a pioneer community and, therefore, staged a variety of
social activities such as concerts, political activities, local elections and religious services. Because
of the tavern's prominence in the social life of a community, the establishment's proprietor usually
wielded substantial influence in local matters. While no early taverns are known to be extant in
Thiensville, the Town of Mequon Board granted a tavern license to John Henry Thien in 1844."9
Thien and William Carbys, another German immigrant, organized or were members of a number of
social groups in the Thiensville area. These included the Free Thinker's Society, singing and
dramatics clubs and a Grange chapter. These and other clubs were reflective of the cultural and
ideological nature of many of the German immigrants who settled the Thiensville area. Indeed,
many of these social activities revolved around education and many social activities such as plays,
concerts, card parties and dinners were held at the Van Buren School located at 228 Elm Street
(Photo Code 77/3). Many of these activities also occurred at the State Graded School and at the
village's various hotels and saloons.80
Thiensville's location along a scenic stretch of the Milwaukee River created a small tourism industry
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Tourists from Milwaukee would either take the
train or interurban and enjoy fishing, boating and other natural pursuits. Indeed, a 1915 newsbrief
from the Cedarburg News reads,
That Thiensville is a well known summer resort is shown by the number of people building summer
79"Early Taverns and Stages Are Vividly Described By Lacher, Waukesha Daily Freeman, 75th Anniversary
Edition, May 1934, 90-91; "Pioneer Taverns," in Waukesha County 125th Jubilee Souvenir Album Program Book, ed.
Elizabeth Faulkner Nolan (Waukesha, WI: s.n., 1959), 29, 31; Ellen D. Langill and Jean Penn Loerke, eds., From
Farmland to Freeways: A History of Waukesha County, Wisconsin (Waukesha, WI: Waukesha County Historical
Society, 1984), 431-32; Mohr, ed., History of Thiensville, 3.
8┬░Mohr, ed., History of Thiensville, 14-15, 40-45. A scrapbook entitled "Thiensville Memorabilia" at the
Mequon Historical Society possesses a number of playbills, programs and advertisements for various community
activities and events at locations throughout Thiensville.


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