Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

STATE HIGHWAY 27, 7 M N OF CADOTT

Architecture and History Inventory
STATE HIGHWAY 27, 7 M N OF CADOTT | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:ZCBJ Hall (Zapadni Ceska-Bratrska Jednota)
Other Name:ZCBJ HALL
Contributing:
Reference Number:25425
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):STATE HIGHWAY 27, 7 M N OF CADOTT
County:Chippewa
City:
Township/Village:Arthur
Unincorporated Community:
Town:30
Range:6
Direction:W
Section:32
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1907
Additions:
Survey Date:1989
Historic Use:meeting hall
Architectural Style:Boomtown
Structural System:
Wall Material:Metal
Architect:
Other Buildings On Site:1
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Z. C. B. J. Hall
National Register Listing Date:6/25/1992 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:5/14/1992 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation.

Stamped metal siding, false front. Two small outbuildings.

Czechs were the first Slavs to come to Wisconsin in large numbers, and Wisconsin was the first center of rural Czech settlement in the United States. Many farmers and tradesmen left Bohemia and Moravia after 1848, a year of revolutionary changes in much of Europe. Many of those who came here from newly industrialized Bohemia were Freethinkers or socialists who rejected Austrian rule and the authority of the Catholic clergy. In Wisconsin in the 1850s, these Czechs founded numerous farm villages in the eastern and southwestern parts of the state. In the 1890s, a secondary wave of Czech rural settlement saw some Czech-Americans leaving established communities for the newly cutover land of northern Wisconsin.

A hundred or so Czech families bought land in this flat area north of Cadott. The sellers, the Cypreanson brothers of Eau Claire, had advertised in Czech-language newspapers in southwestern Wisconsin. They also donated a plot for a Bohemian cemetery and gave money to help build a meeting hall. This last gesture appealed to Czech-Americans who had rejected the church, and secular meeting halls thus accommodated weddings, funerals, social gatherings, dances, language classes, and other means of preserving Czech culture.

This example built in 1907 with volunteer labor is a frame structure whose false front, common for Czech halls, partially hides a front-facing gable. Classical details include door and window moldings, the three-light transom over the entry, and the stained-glass oculus lighting a balcony inside. Metal siding, stamped with a rusticated stone pattern, clads the exterior walls. Rarely preserved in such good condition, embossed-metal veneering was popular for turn-of-the-century community and commercial buildings, particularly in rural areas. The idea was to mimic stone while pinching pennies.

Inside, the maple-floored meeting hall has a balcony at the west end and a semicircular wooden stage at the east end, where the actors presented Czech plays. A simple proscenium molding frames two roll-down curtains, the rear one depicting Karlštejn Castle near Prague, as painted by itinerant artist Emil Piler in 1931. A reversible stage backdrop, painted in 1915, features a Czech street scene on one side and a rural woodland setting on the other. The 1930 addition to the rear contains backstage facilities, a kitchen, and a basement tavern.

This hall housed a chapter of the Západní Cesko Bratrská Jednota (Western Bohemian Fraternal Association), an organization that offered its members insurance and other financial services and sponsored social and cultural activities. The building also provided space for the local Sokol, a gymnastic organization that began in Prague in 1862 and quickly spread to Czech immigrant communities throughout America. Much like the Germans’ Turnverein, the Sokol linked physical fitness to ideals of liberalism and nationalism.
Bibliographic References:Eau Claire Country Today 4/26/2000. Cadott Sentinel 4/18/2002. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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