Octagon House Museum • Hudson Wisconsin

5 Historic Places in Hudson Worth Seeing

#1. Old Hudson Toll Bridge

Hudson Toll Bridge

Hudson Toll Bridge

The Hudson Toll Bridge, accessed in Lakefront Park, once connected Wisconsin and Minnesota. The needed bridge was not without its share of controversy, especially from ferry boat operators. In about 1910 a Bridge Boosters organization was formed to promote bridge the project. The St. Croix Bridge Company began construction in 1911 and historic bridge first opened in 1913 and closed with the advent of the Interstate 94 bridge in 1951. Take a stroll down the dike, which is what remains of the old Bridge. The toll booth sat near what’s now a popular sandy beach. According to the Hudson Star Observer, when the bridge first opened it was blessed by Father J.A. Barney of the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, there was an ox roast, auto parade, and was dedicated by the Honorable Frank M. Nye, a Minnesota congressman. Today, locals enjoy using the dike for fishing, swimming, biking, walking and more. The views are worth the visit!

#2. Dick’s Bar

Sit back and have a beer at historic Dick’s Bar and Grill. Located on Walnut Street, the same road as the Toll Bridge, Dick’s is a prime location for passersby to stop. In 1855 it was called “Hendee’s Hall” which was owned by Frank Keep. Originally the bar could have been considered bad luck – in 1866 a terrible fire which burned down half of downtown Hudson was rumored to have started in Hendee’s Hall. When you visit Dick’s you’ll see a llama printed on their sign. Dick’s comes with a llama story – who knew? In 1877 a strange request was made: a traveller with a broken river boat needed a place to house his llamas while repairs were made. At the time the bar was named “St. Croix Tavern” and the owner, B.A. Rice, offered to house the weary traveller and his llamas. According to the Dick’s Bar website, Rice was called, “‘A Lucky Dog’ according to his friends because of the extra dollars the llamas created.” This bar truly is lucky: it persevered through fire, prohibition, and stood the test of time with 13 different owners. Today, you can enjoy an atmosphere at Dick’s that’s much the same as it has been for decades. More information can be found on Dick’s website at: www.DicksBarHudson.com.

#3. Third StreetOctagon Houses in the US

Walk the length of Third Street in Hudson and experience numerous Victorian homes, churches, the courthouse and the beautiful Octagon House Museum. Third Street is home to a gorgeous array of architecture. One example is the “House of Seven Gables” at 101 Third Street. Built in 1860 by Charles Lewis this Gothic Revival Cottage was a gift for his wife and in 1930 Dr. Boyd T. Williams transformed it into a hospital.

William's Hospital

William’s Hospital

Third Street also boasts a beautiful example of Greek Revival Architecture at the Darling-O’Brien Residence. Ammah Andrews, a widely known pioneer contractor, built the home at 617 Third Street in 1855. The old Court House at 914 Third Street is an excellent example of Richardsonian Romanesque style. This courthouse was built in 1900 for an estimated cost of $50,000 and is easily spotted because of its grand size and large, rough-hewn masonry. These are just a few examples of the fantastic architecture you can find on historic Third Street. For more information, please visit the Octagon House located at 1004 Third Street, which is available for tours and another great example of Hudson architecture. Check out their website at: StCroixCountyHistory.org.

#4. Birkmose Park

Hudson's Indian Burial Mounds

Hudson’s Indian Burial Mounds

Enjoy a scenic hike and breathtaking views of the St. Croix River in Birkmose Park. Beautiful views aren’t the only thing this park has to offer – the history here is also fascinating. Wisconsin has the highest number of effigy mounds in the United States and Birkmose Park is home to Indian burial mounds that date from the Middle Woodland or Late Woodland period, about 100 B.C. to 1200 A.D. Five mounds flank the path along the river. Please keep in mind that out of respect for Native Americans and their deceased that no picnics, alcohol, fires, or walking on the mounds is allowed. The park is best enjoyed for a scenic walk, a relaxing place to read, or to appreciate Hudson’s history! For more information I recommend purchasing Ken Martens’ book, The Perilous St. Croix River Valley Frontier.

#5. Casanova 

Historic Casanova is right down the road from Birkmose Park at 236 Coulee Road. Nestled in the bluffs, this eclectic liquor store and restaurant has been in business since 1896. Originally it was named the “Casanova Beverage Company” and they brewed their own beer until Prohibition. That did not stop business – instead they bottled beverages for companies such as Coca-Cola – and after Prohibition was lifted, they continued to bottle beer. It eventually became Casanova Liquor and The Nova Wine Bar and Restaurant in 2004. Enjoy the annual Nova Beer Cave event and drink beer and socialize inside the cave! For more information regarding upcoming events and history, please visit Casanova’s website at: www.CasanovaLiquor.com.

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