The Verona Area Historical Society
Verona, Wisconsin
"Celebrating the story of Hometown U.S.A."

Check out our ongoing cemetery restoration project: Bringing Their Stones Home

Next VAHS Events: All events are free and open to the public!

*Saturday 10/14/17, 10:00am: "What's Up With the Matts House?", with guest Troy Rost.  Verona Senior Center.

Lately the most common question we get asked at the historical society is, "What's happening with that brick house on the corner downtown?"  There sure has been a lot of activity at the old Matts house this year, and our guest this month will be Troy Rost - who is at the helm!
    Some folks might remember just two years ago when the fate of this our city's oldest home hung in the balance, and most signs pointed towards it receiving a similar fate shared by three other prominent houses that once stood on the other corners of that main intersection.  Just a year or so before that you might recall getting a chuckle driving by and noticing a large sign next to it advertising "Free house if you can move it".
    But for all its recent years of uncertainty, there were as many decades in times past where this house enjoyed a prominent stature among Verona's downtown scene.  Our local histories state that "people came from miles around" to see this impressive double-brick structure when it debuted around 1848.  This was a time only eight years after the first white settlement in Verona (a simple hole dug into the side of a mound) - and for all the log and wood houses that were built by this time not one brick home had been constructed.  Much would happen in this house between that time and now - and we'll get you up to speed!
    Our meeting will start with a brief history on the house and the part it has played in Verona's history.  Our guest Troy Rost will then present a look at what he and his team have been doing since taking ownership from the city last year - and what their project will look like at the end.  Troy will share some surprises found beneath the many layers of drywall, veneer, and old layers of paint.  We will hear insight on the unique challenges of fixing up a historic structure into a sustainable business - which Troy is no stranger to.  We hope you'll join us to find out what's up with the Matts house!

*Saturday 11/18/17, 10:00am: "A City Is Born", with guests Jane Pearcy and Art Cresson.  Verona Senior Center.

This month we will travel back to the 1970s - a time when Verona was watching its borders gradually get gobbled up by annexation into our big neighbor to the Northeast.  Some of those living in the village banded together to discuss what might be done to keep the surrounding town of Verona from continuing to disappear.  The solution?  Become a city!
     Village president Burr Weiland set in motion events that would include creating districts, ordinances, a referendum, and eventually campaigns and a vote for the city's first mayor and City Council.  Our guests this month will be two of Verona's first alders who were there at day one:  Jane Pearcy and Art Cresson.  They will share their memories of that time of change and what our young city government was like when the dust settled after we became a city on April 18, 1978.  We will hear of growing pains, early debates, and enjoy stories like the reason why buckets were required at our first city hall votes.
     Jane had been involved with the league of women voters in Madison before she moved to Verona.  In addition to being our first female city alder, she has been on the school board, been chair of the EMS, ran a restaurant on West Verona Avenue, and taught foreign languages at the middle school for many years.
    Art's interest in the local political scene began in the late 1960s during Verona's great fluoride debate.  When the time to find alders for the first city council came, a friend asked him to get involved due to the fact that his position as a mail carrier meant he "knew everyone in town", in Art's words.
(Pictured above:  Judge Shirley Abrahamson swears in alders Jane Pearcy [left] and Art Cresson [right] on April 18, 1978.)

About the Verona Area Historical Society:

President - Jesse Charles
Vice President - Art Cresson
Secretary - Ruth Jensen
Treasurer - Beverly Beyers
Board:  Lisa Olmsted

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