Wisconsin Travel Guide


Hearthstone Historic House Museum

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The Hearthstone Historic House Museum was the first house in the world lit with an Edison central hydroelectric station on September 30, 1882.

Hearthstone was lit on September 30, 1882 along with the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company and the Kimberly-Clark Vulcan Paper Mill. Only Hearthstone survives. This was the first time in the world that several buildings were lighted with a central hydroelectric station using the Edison system. Only one other central station in the nation existed. Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station in New York City began its operation September 4, 1882. Edison’s station was powered by steam and lit only businesses.

Hearthstone’s rare 1882 Edison light switches and electroliers still are in operation. It is possible that Hearthstone is the sole surviving example of wiring and fixtures in their original location from the dawn of the electrical age.

William Waters, a prominent, Fox Valley, turn-of-the-century architect, designed the stunning home. He gained national recognition for his Wisconsin building at Chicago’s 1893 World Columbian Exposition, and is noted for numerous prestigious private and public buildings throughout the Fox Cities, Oshkosh and Wisconsin.

Mr. & Mrs. Henry J. and Cremora Rogers and their daughter, Kitty, lived in their home approximately 11 years. They left Appleton in 1893. The house then changed hands nine times. In the 1930s it was a public restaurant called The Hearthstone because of its nine fireplaces.

In 1986 the City of Appleton considered razing the building. A grass-roots effort by 13 or more Appleton residents raised enough money to purchase the property in December 1986, saving it from destruction. The group formed the Friends of Hearthstone, Inc. and opened the home as a museum emphasizing its Edison heritage. The building is being restored to the historic era 1880-1895. Today guests from throughout the country and the world tour this amazing example of early domestic electricity.

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