Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
919 CHARLES ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Plank Road Toll House Barn
Other Name:Toll House Barn
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:7127
Location (Address):919 CHARLES ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1853
Survey Date:19862012
Historic Use:barn
Architectural Style:Side Gabled
Structural System:
Wall Material:Board and Batten
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Richards Hill Residential Historic District
National Register Listing Date:6/14/2013 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:11/16/2012 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:Gabled door hood over entrance; vertical board and batten siding; altered window on lower story.

This building once stood at the site of the old toll house for the Watertown Plank road, one of the historic plank roads built in Wisconsin. Used by farmers driving cattle to Milwaukee; has been moved and altered.

In 1849 a corporation was chartered to built a plank road west out of Milwaukee. Construction on plank roads was slow and by 1849 portions were completed near Milwaukee and between Watertown on Oconomowoc. In June of 1853 the road was completed between Watertown and Milwaukee. The Watertown Plank road was one of the few plank roads that was profitable. Plank roads were difficult an expensive to maintain and unless the route was a popular one with farmers and other travelers, plank roads could not collect enough money to survive. When the railroad links came to southeastern Wisconsin, it was quickly evident that they could provide cheaper rates and were more efficient than the plank roads. The plank road eventually succombed to decay and eventually planks were removed. By 1863 the road was a ruin and it eventually disappeared altogether.

The Plank Toll House Barn was some local historical interest because it was related to the Watertown Plank Road, an early road designed to improve the travel between major cities in the state. The building probably does not meet the criteria for significance because it is no longer at the site of the historic roadway. It is, though, preserved on the museum grounds and interpreted as representing an important era in the city's history.

The Plank Road Toll House Barn is not architecturally significant because the barn has been altered and it has been moved from its original site to the grounds of the Octagon House Museum.
Bibliographic References:(A) Historic Marker.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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