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Dittbonner-Stark Farmstead

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c. 1855. N1171 WI 109, 0.5 miles north of Banon Rd.

German-speaking conservative Lutherans from Brandenburg originally made up most of the population of Lebanon township. Many had been prosperous farmers in their homeland, and they came to Wisconsin with enough money to establish productive wheat farms. One newcomer, W. Dittbonner, started this farmstead on forty acres sometime before 1860 and expanded it to eighty acres within a decade. He built a sturdy, braced post-and-beam house with brick walls two layers thick, sandwiching air space between. The facade is organized into five bays, with segmental-arched windows and a central entrance. Above these openings run similarly topped attic windows, surmounted by a zigzag stringcourse at the eaves. Aside from this house, little is known about the original appearance of Dittbonner’s farmstead. By the time Heinrich Stark bought it in 1889, wheat production had become unprofitable in Wisconsin, largely due to competition from newly opened farmland on the Great Plains. So Stark, like other Dodge County farmers, switched to dairying, and the county eventually became one of the leading cheese-producing regions in the state. To house his cows, Stark built a basement barn, consisting of a raised fieldstone basement, where the cows were kept, and an upper-story hayloft of board-and-batten construction. An earthen ramp to the wagon doors on the second floor made it possible to drive a hay wagon directly into the loft, while basement doors on the opposite side of the barn gave cattle access to the barnyard to the west.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Dittbonner-Stark Farmstead", [Watertown, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 243-243.

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