Living History: Wade House Stagecoach Hotel

I enjoyed a visit to the Wade House this winter. This historic site is located in Greenbush, WI featuring the Wesley Jung Carriage Museum,and the Wade House Stagecoach Hotel. In the summer months it also offers a 240-acre open air museum, horse-drawn wagon rides and a working Blacksmith and Sawmill. Let’s Go Learn Things about Wisconsin history…..

 

Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
Wesley Jung Carriage Museum

 

Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
View from the Wade House up the path to the Sawmill
Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
The Wade House Stagecoach Hotel

Wade House Stagecoach Hotel

In the winter the grounds are closed except for special events. However, the Carriage Museum and Butternut Cafe are open on the weekends. It is common for outdoor museums to host small intimate events during their off-seasons.   Once a month from November to April Wade House hosts Hearthside Dinners at the Wade House Stagecoach Hotel.

Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
Mary reviews the recipes for the Wade House Stagecoach Hotel dinner
Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
Sunny dining room of the Wade House Stagecoach Hotel

 

History of Greenbush, WI

In 1844 Sylvanus Wade moved his family west from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin.  The family set up in Greenbush, WI, about 20 miles west of Sheboygan, WI. At the time there was an Indian trail that wound from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac. Wade was a blacksmith with dreams of being a land baron. He quickly established a log homestead and started buying up surrounding land. Eventually Wade would serve as a land developer, city builder, postmaster, justice of the peace and Stagecoach Hotel operator in Greenbush.

History of the Wade House Stagecoach Hotel

By the late 1850’s the Sheboygan-Fond du Lac Plank Road replaced the original Indian trail and brought a degree of prosperity to little Greenbush, WI. Sylvanus Wade built a larger, Greek Revival style building and called it the Halfway House because it was the halfway point between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac. The rather spectacular building caught the attention of the Stagecoach companies and became an important waypoint on their routes along the Plank Rd.

The Wade family had 10 children, most of whom helped run the Stagecoach Hotel. The Wade House Stagecoach Hotel had several upstairs rooms available for long-term tenants and a bunk-style third floor for overnight renters. Its primary focus was however on serving meals to the stagecoach travelers. Each stagecoach could accommodate up to 9 passengers. At its heyday, the Wade House was known to serve up to 40 diners a day. The noon meal cost 25 cents and there was a tap room for “men only” that served whiskey, brandy and beer for 3 cents.

Unfortunately for the Wade family, the railroad was built in 1860 , replacing the Plank Rd.  Sylvanus Wade bet heavily on Greenbush being rail line. But the railroad company chose the neighboring village of Glenbeulah for a depot and Greenbush lost its “15 minutes of fame”.

Hearthside Dinners

Back to the future, 20 of us have gathered at the Wade House Stagecoach Hotel to prepare an historically authentic meal for potential stagecoach travelers. Our docent/interpreters, Mary and Fran greet us at the door and hand out recipes.

Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
Mary Burkey and Fran Fintzen greet us at the door of Wade House Stagecoach Hotel

The menu for today’s meal is hearty and reflects the winter season with plenty of root vegetables. All of the cooking was in cast iron because of the open fire and wood-fired stove.

Hearthside Dinners Menu

 

On the hearth fire we cooked in a “tin kitchen”. This was more of a Colonial period appliance but because Greenbush was the frontier they would have likely still used it in the 1800’s. The pork roasted in the tin kitchen. It had an open back and a hand-turned rotisserie. The glazed carrots were cooked in the dutch oven on the swing-hook. My assignment was the bread pudding. It was cooked in a cast iron dutch oven that was placed with hot coals under it and on top of its lid for baking.

 

Literally “hearthside” cooking.

 

Wade House Tour

We spent over an hour on the preparations.  While the food cooked, we were given a tour of the rest of the house.

 

MEN ONLY Taproom
A permanent boarder’s room.
Mr and Mrs Wade’s room
Wade House Stagecoach Hotel
The third floor had bunk rooms and a hall for community gatherings

Gathering for the Meal

Finally it was time to sample our cooking. It was oddly like camping, suddenly we were starving and everything was delicious.

Wade House Summer

This was a wonderful experience, especially for a Wisconsin winter day. Because this was a 2 hour drive for me, I did not have the time to explore the Wesley Jung Carriage Museum and Museum Store. It looked very intriguing and worth a visit later in the summer.

Their summer season officially starts May 26, 2018.  Until then the Museum Center is open on Saturdays and Sundays 11AM-4PM. Admission fees are $12 for adults and $6 for children.

One of their most popular events is the Civil War Re-enactment in September. This year will be a Sesquicentennial (150 years) Commemoration. Sep 29, 2018 – Sep 30, 2018. Saturday: 9am-5pm, Sunday: 9am-4pm.

For other Living History experiences check out these posts:
Old World Wisconsin
Conner Prairie

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Hearthside Dinners Menu

6 thoughts on “Living History: Wade House Stagecoach Hotel”

  1. What a unique experience! It looks like you’re transported back in time! Thanks for sharing. I drive through Wisconsin often so just may have to stop and check it out myself 😉

    1. I loved this experience. I have lived in WI for 35 years and there is still so much to discover.

    1. It was totally fun to imagine we were cooking for an approaching stagecoach full of hungry passengers.

  2. This looks like an AMAZING experience! We love living history tours and Wisconsin isn’t very far from me – I’m going to add it to my list to look into for the summer!

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