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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Zirbel House (Carol Cartwright photo, 2006)

Zirbel (L) and Hildebrarndt (R) Houses (Carol Cartwright photo, 2006)

Hildebrandt smokehouse (Carol Cartwright photo, 2006)

Zirbel-Hildebrandt farm building (Carol Cartwright, 2006)

Zirbel-Hildebrandt Farmstead
Highway 33, Town of Herman, Dodge County
Dates of contributing buildings: 1868-1929

Five generations of the Zirbel-Hildebrandt family have owned this intact historic farmstead. The sixth generation currently works some of the farmland in an "organic" manner that would resonate with Johann and Wilhelmine Zirbel, the first of the family to live here. The Zirbels and two generations of the related Hildebrandts built much of the farmstead in the nineteenth century. The last two generations of Hildebrandts maintained and added to the farmstead, reflecting the growth and development of Wisconsin agriculture from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

The Zirbels constructed the brick farmhouse and the original portion of the barn in 1868 during the wheat-growing era of Wisconsin agriculture. This portion of the barn retains features that relate to wheat harvesting, including a central wagon-way to bring the wheat into the barn, and the baffles used in the grain harvesting process. This part of the barn also shows a marking system used by ethnic Germans for building construction in the mid-nineteenth century. Later outbuildings, such as the dairy addition, the pig and poultry barn, the corn crib, and the twentieth century silos reflect the transition the Hildebrandts made from wheat to dairying and stock raising in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The residential buildings also reflect the transition of farm family life from the nineteenth to twentieth century. The original cream brick house with its Italianate-influenced details employs the materials and decorative elements commonly used for farm houses in the mid-nineteenth century. The fieldstone-constructed smokehouse is a fine example of an essential nineteenth century food preservation outbuilding on ethnic German farms. The American Foursquare farmhouse from 1902 epitomizes the new and modern style of farm living promoted in the early twentieth century. Today, the farmstead is still used as a residence, the land is still farmed, and the outbuildings are used for raising heritage animal breeds that the Zirbels would immediately recognize from their tenure on the farm.

This farmstead is private property. Please respect the privacy of the residents.


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