Ever drive by the corner of Bonniwell and Cedarburg Roads and see the old grey fieldstone house up on the hill? Ever wonder about its history, who lived there and just how long the house has been standing there?
This historic Mequon landmark is the 165 year-old Jonathan Clark House and it’s an important piece of our community’s history. And, thanks to a group of local supporters, the house will soon be a fully functioning museum.
Although restoration and preservation efforts are still underway, the Friends of Jonathan Clark House Ltd are offering preview tours. Their goals? To raise interest in Mequon’s historical past and to raise funds to complete the Jonathan Clark House restoration.
Dr. Nina Jo Look, Museum Director
I was fortunate enough to get a personal tour of the house by Nina Jo Look, Ph.D., volunteer Museum Director and longtime Mequon resident. Dr. Look is very invested in the house and her enthusiasm about its history shows. She loves to give tours, explaining in great detail about the life and times of those who lived there. She has big plans to fill the Clark House with period furniture, rugs, lighting and accessories; she wants to make the house a special place in our community.
A Look Back
Jumping back in time, the house was built in 1848 by early Mequon settler Jonathan Clark and his family. Clark was a Yankee and an inventor of sorts, who made many contributions to the community. He was one of Mequon’s first Supervisors and was instrumental in founding Mequon’s first public school.
Through the years, the Jonathan Clark House has been home to a number of families and most recently it was the site of Dr. Gregory Custer’s dental practice. In 2012, Jerry McGinnis, retired founder of Embassy Homes of Mequon, purchased the Jonathan Clark House for $250,000 and then offered an interest free loan to Friends of Jonathan Clark House Ltd so they could buy it.
Greek Revival Architecture
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the house itself is an exceptional example of Greek revival architecture which features a symmetrical, formal shape. The boxlike appearance of the house definitely adds to its charm. The sidewalls of the house are made from coursed fieldstone, and the front of the house is a combination of limestone and fieldstone. Clark would use this unique entrance to impress important business clients, ushering them through the front door to his office on the right. The house, made from Mequon’s raw materials, truly represents the very beginnings of Mequon, and the pioneering spirit of the growing community.
Community Spirit Continues
Groups from all around our community have been pitching in to help make the Jonathan Clark House a success. Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC Mequon) Landscape Design Program students are involved in plans for the gardens and landscape. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) students of Archeology and Museum Studies are assisting as well. The Friends of Jonathan Clark House Ltd have also requested help from Concordia University, offering a student internship for help formulating a business plan for the museum. And last but not least, Dr. Look has been talking with Mequon-Thiensville’s Superintendent Dr. Means, about ways to get Homestead High School students involved too.
Open House Coming Soon
If you haven’t had a tour yet, the Jonathan Clark House Museum is having their open house on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. Come meet Dr. Look, hear the story of the house for yourself and check out the progress. With a fascinating history, and with so much to learn, I can personally tell you it’s not something you want to miss! The open house is from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Can’t Make the Open House?
Set up a time to visit the museum, as Dr. Look welcomes new ideas on how this museum can benefit our community. Take a step back into the past and come experience Mequon’s only house museum!
Jonathan Clark House
3615 N Cedarburg Rd
Mequon, WI 53097
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