Monday, August 05, 2013

History On Water Street

Historic Downtown Sparta.  Not so beautiful in the overcast colorless sky, but we did get a pretty glimpse of it the day before when we rolled into town as the evening sun was casting its light over the buildings nestled together on the tree-lined street.

This is Water Street,  the main drag, where you'll find consignment shops and antique stores, banks and attorneys, and realtors and appliance stores.  Many businesses are housed in buildings dating back to the late 1800s, like Maiden Wisconsin, a gift shop occupying the space in the Sugden Building, which displays a date of 1899.

According to History of Monroe County, Wisconsin Past and Present, by Randolph A. Richards, J.M. Sugden, a first class painter and paper hanger, came up from St. Louis in 1854. When he erected this building – which he used as a paint shop – it was the largest building on the street and people called him crazy for putting up such a large house just for a paint shop.

Because the paint business wasn’t very lucrative at that time, he added bricklaying to his list of skills and started to make small chimneys for people’s homes, charging an honest penny for his labors. Doctor Gage, in an article on the early settlers, said of Mr. Sugden, “He became known as ‘the handsome bricklayer’, but whether this term was to be applied to the individual or to his work has never yet been with certainty known.”

Directly across the street from that shop, and owned by the same people, you'll find Ginny’s Cupboard.  A café, coffee shop and purveyor of fresh, baked goods. 
The interior is old-timey looking, with vintage décor and mismatched coffee mugs.  The chalkboard up front displays a menu of coffee drinks.
I couldn't tell if the items on display were authentic or not, but some of the stuff looked old and weathered, as if it were the real deal.  Doesn't matter though, the look totally works.
I ordered a hot latte and a date filled cookie, a treat I'd never seen before.  It seemed to be two thin sugar cookies - homemade - spread with a date filling and pinched around the perimeter.  It was crispy on the edges, soft in the middle and sweet.  It gave me a few ideas for making "filled" cookies of my own.  I had two bites and gave the rest to Ed. 
I sat outside while I drank my coffee waiting for Ed.  I thought I'd check out some of the action in the town but alas, there was none.  It was quieter than a library and had less movement than a cemetery.  If we ever go back, we'll check out their lunch menu.  Judging by the tables that hadn't been cleared yet, the place was busy before we got there. 
It's a great place to hit before or after a bike ride.

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2012: Do It Like The Settlers Did. With Whiskey.
2011: No Vacancy
2010: Imperial Sand
2009: How Many Twenty Year Olds Have A Seventy Pound Head?
2008: My First Time
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Text Me
2005: Eddie Dines Out Friday

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