Have you been wondering what Heritage Day is all about? We sat down with Kori Oberle (member of the Whitewater Federation of Women’s Clubs-WFWC and Senior Director on the Bassett House Board) and picked her brain about what’s behind this fun day coming up Sunday, June 23rd.

While Heritage Day is new this year, it’s been revived from a Heritage Day of the past. It’s focused on the Main Street Historic District, which is included in the National Register of Historic Places. This is honorary and should be celebrated!

While the Whitewater Landmarks Commission is one of the primary partners of this event with the WFWC, they’ve also paired up with the Food Truck Festival at the Irvin L. Young Library as well as Downtown Whitewater, the Whitewater Historical Society Museum, and the Cultural Arts Center (that will have a pop-up art exhibit) and ability to view the Birge Fountain.

“Julius Birge gave the fountain to everybody of Whitewater. He said, ‘The fountain honors the water that brings life and music.’ That’s Whitewater Creek. The houses that sprang up after that are evidence of our attractive natural resources. Original settlers’ land went from Main St. all the way back to Starin.”

Kori

Many of those original historic homes will be open for tours, including the Delta Zeta Sorority house…

…and the Hamilton House B&B among others!

Mrs. Hull will be outside the old location of the Morris Pratt Institute sharing stories about spiritualism throughout Whitewater’s history. People will get a chance to hear about the Territorial Burr Oak (on the corner of Franklin and Main) which was used by surveyors of the city as it was first being developed.

Docents will be outside all the locations to talk about the spaces. NOTE: You’ll need a wristband to enter the properties.

Before this became a city-wide festival, Heritage Day began as a way to bring awareness to our historical homes/monuments, specifically the Bassett House and it’s preservation.

“It’s our dear, elderly grandmother.”

Kori

In 1858, the Bassett House was on the edge of town; beyond was prairie and oaks. The WFWC took over the house in 1926 and it opened in 1927 as a space for meetings. Kori grew up down the street and has loved the house since childhood.

“It’s a hop, skip, and jump away from the heartbeat of the city. We want it to be a gathering place where people want to come for meetings, events, and parties.

Kori

The Bassett House will have a silent auction and an ice cream social with homemade fruit pies. Ticket proceeds, donations made during the ice cream social, and the proceeds raised during the silent auction will be going toward the Bassett House renovation and preservation so it can last another 161 years.

“We realize membership fees no longer support what the house needs. We’re hiring professional contractors to take care of the house. We want to renovate the upstairs and the kitchen. We’re doing things for the grandmother house to make sure she’s ready for the next batch of ladies coming up.”

Kori
The Bassett House. Actual date of construction was 1858.

Not only will Heritage Day be spreading knowledge about the history of our city, but all money spent will be going back into many of the spaces participating. A good time and a win for all involved. Come out and show your support for Whitewater’s rich history and hopefully it becomes a weekend festival in the future! You’ll find further details here.