My husband has this crazy goal of walking 800 miles in 2018. While I fully support him and am so proud of him for taking on this challenge, I am not quite so ambitious. My goal is to get out, walk around, and see what the world has to offer. However, I am happy to work on achieving our goals together, to a certain degree, so I agreed to a 5-mile walk on Saturday morning on two conditions: 1) the walk needed to include a park or cemetery (I find cemeteries fascinating and relaxing, a great combination for walking!), and 2) we were going to hit up a bakery at some point on this walk (this was actually his idea, but once he said it aloud it became one of my conditions). He worked his magic and came up with a nice route that would take us to one of our favorite bakeries and would get us to a park. Beautiful!
Our walk actually started in Greenfield at Konkel Park, but as we only used the parking lot and one part of a path, I decided not to feature Konkel quite yet. Rest assured that a Konkel Park post is inevitable; it is home to our Farmer’s Market, has a recently opened amphitheater, and plays host to a number of local events (like Jansen Fest). For the purpose of this post, however, it was simply a starting and ending point. From Konkel, we headed off toward Greendale.
Adjacent to the city of Greenfield, our home since 2009, is the village of Greendale. Going to Greendale is a bit like traveling through time. Shops and restaurants line the main street of “downtown” Greendale, which itself leads directly (where else?) to the Village Hall. The street lamps, the store fronts, even the people make Greendale feel like a trip to a simpler time. In fact, it is so Rockwellian that in 2012 a commissioned sculpture of Norman himself was erected in the village center (despite there being no actual connection to Mr. Rockwell).
There are two fun things to note about this particular figure. The first is that he moves. Not in an animatronic Disney sort of way. I suppose it’s more that he changes position. The sculpture is on sort of a lazy susan; sometimes he’s pointed toward the village hall, other times he’s looking down the street at the shops. Depending upon which way he’s facing, his painting also differs. It’s sort of a cute way to keep things interesting, even if it does mean people occasionally stop to ask Norm for directions. The other is that he has quite the extensive wardrobe. Hats. Glasses. Scarves. Shirts. Feather boas. He’s worn them all.
Alright, so let’s have a brief history lesson on the village of Greendale. Greendale was one of three government sponsored “greenbelt” communities built in the mid- to late-1930s as part of FDR’s Resettlement Administration (the other two being Greenbelt, MD and Greenhills, OH). This program had three objectives: 1) Demonstrate a new kind of suburban community planning that would meld the positive aspects of both city and country living. 2) Provide good housing at reasonable prices. 3) Create jobs that would benefit the community both economically and socially.
Known as the “backward houses,” the first homes constructed in Greendale (the “Greendale Originals”) were built with the living rooms positioned toward the back of the house; this design was meant to give families a better view of their yards and gardens. There were some pretty strict requirements for living in the newly built community (one of which was “cleanliness in living habits”), and residents weren’t allowed to purchase the homes from the government until 1949. Thanks to easy access to the village center (and some sturdy construction to boot), these houses are still around (and still lived in!), and the village itself is on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
Present-day Greendale is home to a number of shops, restaurants, and parks. While our main stop was National Bakery (because everyone needs donuts on cheat day, am I right?), we also wandered past a few storefronts, checked out the Limerick of the Day (Greendale is home to the Limerick Hall of Fame), and enjoyed a brief walk through the village center “park.” (I cannot for the life of me find a proper name for the park. The playground at the park is Daffodil Playground, but that’s it. So unless it’s part of nearby Gazebo Park, I’ve got nothing.) We then headed out to Scout Lake Park.
Scout Lake Park, a Milwaukee County park, is located along one of the busiest roads in the area. Fortunately, there is a pedestrian bridge to help safely cross to get to the park. Unfortunately, it is not terribly conveniently placed; we actually walked through a “restricted” parking lot to get to the bridge (though we did so without any problems, so maybe it wasn’t all that restricted). Once on the other side of the street, you’ve arrived at Scout Lake Park.
At this point the park is more or less split into two parts. To your right is a parking lot, picnic area, and playground (complete with multigym!). Ahead/On your left is the lake (with a pier) and the pavilion. We didn’t make it over to the picnic and playground side of the park, but the path around the lake made for a lovely (if a bit icy) walk. We initially thought we had the park to ourselves, but we encountered a jogger or two, as well as a few dogs being walked by their loyal human companions. Nonetheless, the park was very peaceful for a (cold) Saturday morning and made for a nice stop before heading back to our car. Despite some tricky ice (I only fell once!) and a detour caused by lack of sidewalk, our walk was an overall successful endeavor.
Heading to Greendale? Hoping to check out Scout Lake Park? Here are a few helpful hints:
- Greendale has some fantastic places to eat and shop (and parking aplenty). If you have time to just stroll the main drag, you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, I definitely urge you to check out National Bakery (which just so happens to be located next to a coffee shop). If you’d rather grab a sit-down meal, I would suggest Ferch’s Malt Shoppe & Grille. A bit pricey, but the food is good and the nostalgia factor is off the charts. If you’re into shopping local, KitscheCoo Art & Craft Shed sells items made by area artists and artisans, and Gift of Wings offers kites and other flying toys, as well as Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream and Milwaukee Pretzels.
- Interested in Greendale’s history? The Greendale Historical Society has opportunities to tour the village, or you can check out the Chimney Tours. You can also drop by the Historic Greendale Welcome Center, located across Broad Street from the public library.
- The path around Scout Lake itself is about a half mile long, but there are other paths available through the woods, should you find yourself wanting to explore a bit more. Just be mindful to stay on the designated paths, please!
- Scout Lake Park has been on the schedule for Milwaukee’s Travelling Beer Garden tour over the past few years, so keep an eye out for this opportunity in the summer months.
And now, the links!
Village of Greendale
The Planned Community of Greendale, Wisconsin (WI Historical Society)
Greendale: Wisconsin’s Norman Rockwell town (The Group Travel Leader)
Scout Lake Park Map (Milwaukee County Parks)
Scout Lake Park Pavilion (Milwaukee County Parks)