It’s easy to see most roadside history markers. Sometimes you decide to get out, stretch your legs and learn a little something about the area that you’re in. Instead, how about searching for some of the Green Bay area’s not-so-obvious history hot spots? We have a few to get you started. Where will your adventure take you?
What is the Polo Resto?
In the early twentieth century, the sport of polo was a hallmark of St. Norbert College's sports program. Its popularity called for a gas station to serve the needs of sports fans near the polo field, just north of the De Pere city limits. The modest structure consisted of a stylish Japanese roofline and its broad overhang. Sinclair Oil Company provided gas to motorists and the St. Norbert Polo team provided the entertainment until around 1937.
By 2004, a development called for the structure to be razed. Local businesses and the De Pere Historical Society fundraised to save Polo Resto. Within a month, $10,000 was raised and Nicolet Real Estate and Investment Corp. offered a plot of land at 201 William Street next to the Fox River Trail. This landmark, complete with the original gas pumps, is still a place of rest and relaxation for users of the Fox River Trail at the entrance to Voyageur Park.
Finding the Three Sisters
Tucked into a scenic park you will find three sculptures representing a significant part of Oneida tribal culture. The “Three Sisters” reside at Amelia Cornelius Culture Park on Green Bay’s far west side.
The beautifully crafted chainsaw art sits in a garden space next to the Oneida Longhouse.
The Oneida, like many other Native American people across North America, grew three main foods: corn, beans and squash, which are referred to as the “Three Sisters” as told by the Iroquois creation story, and remain an essential part of the Oneida Nation’s diet.
During the summer you’ll find a bountiful garden next to the sisters, as well as a medicinal garden. Other points of interest in the park include Salt Pork Avenue, a historical display of Native American homes. Narrated history tours showcasing the Longhouse and homes are available for organized groups.
Many know Earl Lambeau as the namesake for one of America’s most historic stadiums. But in his early days, he was just a kid growing up and living on the east side of Green Bay. His birthplace home became significant when Curly’s aspirations to form a professional football dream came true.
In 2003, Ken and his son John Calewarts uncovered a piece of Packers history when they discovered the home. Built in 1868 records showed that the Lambeau family lived at the residence in 1898, the year Curly was born. Today, the home is part of the Packers Heritage Trail. This is definitely a unique spot for a photo if you’re a Packers fan.
Guinness Book World Record Holder
Towering over the small city of Pulaski about 20 minutes west of Green Bay, you’ll find a church with twin, 135-foot-tall Spanish-style towers, the deep tolling of its trio of bells weighing 2,000, 800 and 200 pounds and beautiful 50-foot ceilings showcasing more than 40 Italian-made stained glass windows at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.
Parish members, all Polish descent parishioners, volunteered to construct this Romanesque Revival 198-foot-long brick church. When it was completed in 1931 at a total cost of $225,000 it was the largest rural Catholic church in America, according to the Guinness Book of World Records and was the talk of the entire state.
Can You Find it at the Garden?
Photo Credit: Marc Amenson
There are 47 acres at the Green Bay Botanical Garden that capture the beauty of northeast Wisconsin. In the late 1970’s a group called Plants in the Urban Environment started the work that eventually led to the creation of the botanic garden. The property, known as “the old Larsen orchard”, was assembled by William Larsen in the early 1900's to grow apples for his wholesale fruit and vegetable business.
The garden has become a community gathering place, holding summer concerts, educational events, weddings and a wintertime light show. The paths lead to amazing garden collections and unique architecture. But what about Mr. Larsen’s orchard? Today, there still is an apple tree inside the garden that carries on his legacy…and it’s marked. Can you find the tree and it’s crooked little path?