Arranged around a common like a New England village, Cooksville is a well-preserved nineteenth-century community. Founder John Cook laid out the village in 1842 in an “oak opening”—a park-like setting of widely spaced oak trees growing in the tall-grass prairie. The prairie gave way to fields of wheat, then to dairy and tobacco farms. Nearby Bad-fish Creek supplied water power for Cooksville’s mills. The transplanted New Englanders and New Yorkers who settled the area in the 1840s and 1850s built their houses of vermilion brick in simplified versions of Greek and Gothic Revival styles. A number were the work of carpenter and self-taught architect Benjamin Hoxie and carpenter John Willis Fisher Jr.
The Daniel Lovejoy–Henry Duncan House (late 1840s; Webster Street at WI 138) is Greek Revival, standing two stories tall with a hipped roof. Its entrance is flanked by sidelights and recessed within a simple architrave molding, and flat stone lintels crown six-over-six windows. Lovejoy, a leading developer of Cooksville, built several houses in the area as speculative ventures. In 1852 he sold this one to Henry Duncan, who lived here until 1875 and added the one-story clapboard wing sometime before he left. Of the many Gothic Revival residences in Cooksville, perhaps the most charming is the Thomas Longbourne House (c. 1854; WI 138 between Dane and Webster streets) built by John Fisher Jr. The one-and-a-half-story vermilion brick cottage has lacy bargeboards cut in a foliated pattern.
Benjamin Hoxie built the eclectic Cooksville Congregational Church (1879; Main Street and WI 138). The narrow front-gabled, clapboard building features four wooden Gothic pinnacles, which rise from the stone foundation and terminate with trefoils. These details, the tall round-arched windows, the fanlight over the entrance, and the pedimented cupola create an oddly charming building.