I’m saddened to report that plans are moving ahead to demolish the Eble Park Barn in the town of Brookfield. Bids are due in Waukesha County on July 24.
I have admired this particular barn ever since the former residents donated their 33-acre family farm to Waukesha County, which included the residence, barn, miscellaneous out-buildings and gardens. Siblings Roy and Florence Eble donated the property conditionally, with the land set aside for park use. Ultimately, the Eble Ice Arena was built on the site, and the balance of land lies idle waiting for completion of a parks’ master plan. Every time I pass this landmark on busy Bluemound Road, I think of the Ebles and their generous donation.
Surprisingly, the house was demolished in November 2012. Like the barn, the house had been in pretty good shape. The barn could use a coat of paint, but structurally it is relatively sound and is a great example of a basic Wisconsin barn.
It’s a beautiful centerpiece bridging the gap between old and new along this busy corridor. The images of the barn next to the commercial strip make the viewer contemplate a simpler time when agriculture was Waukesha County’s sole purpose. It is a refreshing break between modern and rural life, and I’m not sure if the Ebles would be too happy about how this site has progressed, or the destruction of their home and livelihood.
I’m grasping for answers as to why this building must come down. It’s troubling to see no specific park development plan, yet county government has deemed the Eble barn unnecessary. So much for landmark status, and any idea to incorporate this building into a master plan.
Why not incorporate the barn into a botanical garden project? The garden areas surrounding the barn are being maintained by the Southeastern Wisconsin Master Gardeners. Are those also scheduled to be phased out? Why not enhance the area with expanded gardens with the barn as a centerpiece. A weekend farmer’s market at the site is another possibility, again with the barn in the center. For those excited about the Wisconsin barn quilt plaques and decals, this building could be portrayed as the quilt headquarters, offering sales and classes inside. What about basic storage?
Your grandkids may one day ask if it’s always been like this. In essence, we are creating a solid commercial city with no reflections of the past. Let’s use a little imagination, and preserve this building and let it stand as a tribute to Waukesha’s heritage. Or is that heritage now commercial use?