History of Cedarburg

Little did Cedarburg’s original settlers know that their handsome limestone and cream city brick structures constructed in the mid-19th century would stand the test of time. Today many of these original buildings remain unaltered, and serve as charming homes to numerous restaurants, shops, galleries and other local attractions.

Ludwig Groth, who built his home along the banks of Cedar Creek in 1842, was the first recorded settler of Cedarburg. Two years later, other settlers purchased a tract of land from Groth and established a grist mill, which remains a distinguished element of Cedarburg’s skyline today. Located on the banks of Cedar Creek, the grist mill is currently home to several businesses and a microbrewery whose walkway entrance spans the rushing waters of the creek.

Four additional dams and mills were constructed in the following years, centralizing the life of the fledgling town along the banks of Cedar Creek. Built in 1864, the Wittenberg Mill stood as the sole woolen mill west of Philadelphia to produce worsted yarns. The original mill buildings on Bridge Road still stand today, forming the historic Cedar Creek Settlement, and they house a variety of charming shops, restaurants and artists’ studios, as well as an award-winning winery.

Owing to the efforts of the Landmarks Commission and the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce, Cedarburg’s downtown Washington Avenue area was designated as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in the mid-1980s. Adjacent to the downtown area is the Columbia Road Historic District, which was listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 1992. These commercial and residential districts are a must-see for visitors.

The Ozaukee County Historical Society makes its home in the “Interurban Depot,” a restored landmark that functioned as a depot for the electric rail lines from Milwaukee to Sheboygan from 1907 to 1947. The facility is the first stop for anyone researching family history, or wishing to access census records, statistics, maps and photographs.

Historical information is also available at the Cedarburg Visitor Center in its new home on Columbia Road, sharing space with the Cedarburg History Museum and the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce.