Hermansville

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Hermansville is a company town established in 1878 by Charles Julius Ludwig Meyer, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, founder of the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company, a company owned and operated until 1943 by his son-in-law and descendants George Washington, G. Harold, and Stewart Earle. At Hermansville, Meyer built a sawmill to process pine lumber taken from the surrounding fifty thousand acres in what is now Meyer Township. This, in turn, he manufactured into sashes, doors, and blinds at his huge Fond du Lac plant. In 1888 Meyer opened another mill at Hermansville, where he installed modern precision machinery that finished hardwood flooring from kiln-dried rock maple. The Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company marked its products with an IXL within a bull's-eye ring and sold them to builders and architects engaged in building up the West.

The population of Hermansville, where the owners and employees of the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company worked and lived, reached a peak of 1,200 in 1911. The big mill yard, which lies south and west of the junction of the Chicago and North Western and the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railroads, contained the company's hardwood mills and concrete boiler house. To the northeast of the mill yard is the two-and-a-half-story, wood-frame clapboard Queen Anne office building. Erected in 1882–1883, its decorative spindlework in the gable and porch, its horizontal and vertical patterns of shiplap and stickwork on the exterior walls, and its interior stencil work (restored by Conrad Schmidt Studios of Milwaukee) make it the centerpiece of present-day Hermansville. Today as the IXL Historical Museum, it houses artifacts from Hermansville's lumbering and hardwood flooring era. Finished hardwood covers the floors throughout.

Separated from the mill yard, on the north side of the Chicago and North Western Railroad's tracks, is the residential area. Company-built cottages and houses are arranged with a school and churches in a grid of streets north of 1st Street, which runs parallel to the Chicago and North Western Railroad. The Methodist Episcopal Church, erected in 1903 at the corner of Linden and 2nd streets, blends such Gothic and classical elements as pointed windows, intersecting gables, a corner bell tower, and an entrance porch.

Along the north side of 1st Street and extending for two blocks west of Main Street are the public and commercial structures built by the company during the years of greatest prosperity, from 1910 to 1930. They include the community club (1926), the hotel (1911–1912), the post office (1924), and the IXL General Store and apartments (1924).

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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