A look back at Princeton’s past

VICKI Wielgosh uses her smartphone to access the tour’s website, detailing the rest of the history about the building and where the next site is located. Hannah Tetzlaff photo

by Reagan Zimmerman

Watch your back, you might see a ghost tonight.

The streets of Princeton will be crawling with ghosts and humans Saturday, Aug. 26 for the grand opening of the Princeton Historical Walk and the first-ever Princeton Cemetery Walk.

The Princeton Historical Walk guided walking tour will begin at 10 a.m. at the former location of the Tiger Brew.

The purpose of the guided tour is to release the first wave of information about the project to members of the public and then have them pass it on to create more attraction to Princeton’s historical sites.

The project was initiated by the city of Princeton Community Development Authority in 2015 in hope of adding plaques to buildings explaining their historical significance to the public.

“We didn’t have the historical aspects of our town accessible to people and we wanted that to change,” City Administrator Mary Lou Neubauer said.

The idea was to have the plaques display 100 words of information about the locations’ historical significance and have additional information online, readily accessible on a mobile device.

The city created a branch off of the city website for the walking tour so anyone with a cellphone can retrieve information for each location.

Information may be found at www.cityofprincetonwi.com through the tourism tab in the top-right hand corner. It’s labeled “Historic Walking Tour.”

The page includes a map with all 45 locations to help guide individuals and provides more information for viewers interested in a location.

“Originally, the plaques were only going to go on some of our downtown buildings because some of them are on a historic register,” Neubauer said. “When it was presented to the community, the idea took off. Now we have 45 locations and it is still growing.”

Locations include historic buildings, properties and natural features.

Neubauer is looking to expand even further to all of the historical landmarks in the city, but the challenge right now is funding.

The plaques were paid for by the owners of the property or building they were put on.

“You want it, you own it, you pay for it,” Neubauer said.

The city is looking for funding so the project will be less expensive for those looking to buy a plaque and be part of the tour.

With 45 sites and a lot of information being distributed on the day of the tour, Neubauer expects the tour to last about an hour or two.

She hopes visitors will explore shops and restaurants around town until 1:30 p.m. so they will be able to attend the Cemetery Walking Tour.

The Cemetery Tour: Tombstones Come Alive is debuting and will have guided tours at 1:30 and 4 p.m in the Princeton City Cemetery.

The tour will include live reenactments of 11 influential people buried in the Princeton City Cemetery and a speech on veterans at the end of the tour.

“What will happen is I will be your tour guide and we will walk through the cemetery and walk up to someone portraying another person,” event coordinator and city of Princeton employee Cheryle Nickel said. “I will start talking to [the actors] and they will completely transform themselves into the character and talk for around 2 to 5 minutes.”

Men and women will act as wives, mothers, bankers, candy store owners and many more.

There is a $5 fee for the cemetery tour for anyone 13 or older. Ages 12 and under are free.

The purpose of the tour is to promote the cemetery restoration project, so proceeds will go toward the project to help fix grave stones and renovate the cemetery.

Another historical event happening that day is the Princeton Historical Society open house at its two buildings: 630 and 632 W. Water St.

The locations open at 10 a.m. and will close at 3 p.m.

One building will feature historical exhibits and the other will provide an inside look at the renovation of the Stonehouse.

Overall, the day will be filled with history, along with some shopping opportunities.

“People could meet in the early morning for the flea market, then go on the historical walking tour, then shop and grab a bite to eat and finish out their day with the cemetery tour,” Neubauer said. “We are looking to make it a destination for historical information.”