March 22, 2023 12:35 am

Local News

New Additions to Wisconsin Historic Registry

Credit: iStock

Reinette LeJeune

As much as modern humans are concerned about time marching forward and the evolutions and innovations it will bring, we equally spend a great deal of time focusing on what has already come to pass. Organizations like the Wisconsin Historical Society – and the larger National Park Services – dedicate themselves to connecting people to the past through the collecting, preserving, and sharing of stories through its historical registries. In Wisconsin alone, there are a little over 2400 historical sites – buildings, lighthouses, downtown districts, bridges, parks, capitals, etc. – and the number continues growing every day. Below are three new additions to the state registry which may also soon be placed on the national registry as well.

In the small town of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, there sits an odd building resembling a human spine, The Gonstead Chiropractic Clinic. Built in 1964, the facility was established by Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead, one of the most influential persons in American chiropractic during his lifetime, who developed the Gonstead System which continues to influence the profession today. At its height, Dr. Gonstead was reported to work 20 hours a day in order to see the near 200 daily patients – with people traveling from across the country and world over for appointments. By the late 1950’s, his practice was the largest single-doctor chiropractic office in the world, achieving global fame by the time of his death in 1978. 

Across the state to the northeast coastline stands the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse. Its addition to the state register is due to its role in maritime transportation and commerce in the region. Built as a fog signal building in 1909 and converted into a lighthouse in 1931, the four-story building today  includes the original two-story fog signal building, an integral light tower, and lantern gallery that now house a modern, automated fog detector and fog signal. There are also rooms previously used for machinery, office space, and living quarters for the lighthouse keeper. This building has and will continue to enable safe passage for thousands of ships for as long as it remains, exemplifying the federal government’s role in providing a nationwide system of aids to navigation. It is the 35th designated lighthouse in Wisconsin to be included onto the register. 

On the western side of the state, sits the small community of the Bangor Commercial Historic District, located in La Crosse County. Consisting of two blocks (20 buildings) of retail and service buildings constructed in the late-19th and mid-20th centuries, the only modern building in the village is a modernized bank. According to the historical society, the district represents the growth and evolution of commerce from the 1870s through the post-World War II era.

The Wisconsin Historical Society is simultaneously a state agency and a private membership organization whose purpose is to maintain, promote and spread knowledge relating to the history of North America, with an emphasis on the state of Wisconsin and the trans-Allegheny West. National Register listings identify historically significant buildings, districts, structures, sites, and objects and document their significance.