Mystery Place: Village of Darien's fortunes tied to shipping

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Ginny Hall | June 2, 2017

What is now the village of Darien was first settled in the spring of 1837 when John Bruce came to the area. According to the village history written by the Darien Bicentennial Committee, Bruce built a log cabin on the east side of Park Street. Later this site served as the location of the Methodist parsonage. Bruce also set aside three acres for the Commons, which now is the village park.

The Bruce family hosted the first town meeting in their home in 1842. His home served as a tavern and a public lodging at various times. In 1843, Bruce built a hotel on the corner of Park and Beloit streets. The first school was a private one, held in Bruce's log house. 

Bruce built a grain warehouse  in 1857. Before 1862 the village had five grain storage houses. Darien had a history of being a stock shipping station, the largest in the county and the largest between Milwaukee and the Mississippi River. 

A blacksmith shop was located at the intersection with Sharon Road. The owners lived on the second floor. In a history of Darien written by Lura Clowes, she mentions two other blacksmith shops in this village. 

Over the years this village has had a cigar factory, bank, theater, creamery, jewelry store, shoe shop, lumberyard, hardware store and plastics and pickle factories. During World War II, Darien was the site of a hemp factory. The Darien Elevator, operated by the Wuttkes, is the oldest continuous business in Darien.

The village was platted by Frey, Stone and Topping in 1856. The community was incorporated in 1951, when it was separated from the town of Darien. 


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