Cedarburg Christmas History of Cedarburg

History of Cedarburg

The German immigrants who settled along the banks of Cedar Creek back in the mid 1840s built a lasting community as strong and friendly as they were.

The early laborers used limestone from the creek bed and nearby quarries to build their homes, churches, stores and mills.  Most of these buildings are still standing today, and in fact are in use for many of the same purposes.

Ludwig Groth, who purchased 120 acres for $925 in 1842, is credited with being Cedarburg's first settler. Frederick Hilgen and William Schroeder followed as the town's first entrepreneurs.  Hilgen and Schroeder built a grist mill in 1844 and replaced it 11 years later with a three-story stone mill that still stands on the corner of Columbia and Portland Roads. 

Soon after Hilgen partnered with Dietrich Wittenberg to build the first woolen mill west of Philidelphia to produce worsted yarns. The woolen mill buildings, still standing at the north end of town, are now home to dozens of retail shops, artists galleries, restaurants and the Cedar Creek Winery.
By 1885 the community had grown to a population of 1500, which permitted its incorporation.  For a century Cedarburg thrived as a business community and destination town -- visitors came from miles around to visit the popular Hilgen Springs Park and bathe in the mineral spring waters.  Local businesses produced and sold commodities like flour, yarn, shoes, nails and buttons.  Residents gathered in the square for weekly farmers markets, festivals, ice cream socials and recreation on and along the creek. 

More than a century later, that sense of community continues in Cedarburg. Now a thriving artist community and quaint shopping
town, many of Cedarburg's old limestone buildings and shops are owned by local residents, and year-round the streets are filled with people shopping, dining or just enjoying the sights.   Christmas is an extra-special time in Cedarburg - enticing shops, art galleries, coffee houses, cozy pubs and restaurants glow with holiday charm; the city's Christmas tree stands tall on the City Hall lawn; bundled shoppers stroll the snow-lined streets with their packages and bags. And businesses and organizations throughout the city brighten their spaces with daily holiday activities, special events, performances, art & crafts shows, exhibits and family activities.

Welcome to Cedarburg - everyone's home for the holidays!

Historic photos from the Ed Rappold Collection courtesy of the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Photos available for purchase by calling the Center at 262-375-3676.
  Click on photos below to open slideshow.