Date in History: 19th century
The oldest street in the city of Fort Atkinson is Main Street. It was originally part of a military road that connected Fort Dearborn in Chicago to Fort Winnebago in Portage, Wisconsin. After the first white settlers arrived in the 1830s and settled on both sides of the Rock River, a wooden bridge was built linking North and South Main Streets.
From the 1840s to the 1870s, Main Street was adorned with mostly wood frame stores with wide shingled canopies resting on wooden posts. In the 1880s these small frame shops gave way to the buildings you see today – two and three story brick buildings constructed with local cream brick, and adorned with fancy cornices and dentils. Canvas awnings replaced the wooden canopies.
In 1984, Main Street, Fort Atkinson was designated a historic district by the federal government and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 01/09/2006.