1900s barn weathers community, business changes
A photo gallery of this Mystery Place is HERE
The barn at 431 E. Geneva St. in Elkhorn features a barn quilt called Golden Samovar Star. The barn is in an area that has seen lots of changes over the years.
This was the former Brogan Manufacturing Co., a plastics factory. The 1873 plat book shows it as the property of C. Wiswell. The Wiswell daughter, Edith, married H.E. Hartwell and later plat books indicate his name on this property.
Hartwell ran a livery stable on South Wisconsin across from the Nickel Plate Hotel. He was named by the village president to serve on the reorganized fireman’s company in 1895. This was right after the village installed a water works system. Hartwell served as mayor of Elkhorn in 1912, having earlier served the community as alderman.
This location also was the home of the Getzen band instrument factory. Getzen came to the area in 1920 and worked at the Holton Band Instrument Co. In 1939, he started his own music instrument business in the barn. Getzen produced a number of band instruments at this location and needed to expand. His next factory was located on Centralia Street. The Getzen name is still connected with music instruments in Elkhorn.
Next door was the Katzman Poultry business. The land was owned by Earl Stearns in the 1920s and 1930s. Stearns had a large herd of cattle. At one time Stearns and his son, Maynard, had a very popular dairy sales store on North Wisconsin Street and First Avenue.
The barn was built in the early 1900s on the Hartwell farm. It has new aluminum siding, but inside contains the original farm and wooden beams. It contains several businesses, including Little Miss Sweetpea’s Local Garden Produce.