History of Sheboygan Falls

The Great American Main Street Award

As a “Wisconsin Main Street” community, Sheboygan Falls is dedicated to the preservation of its historic structures. To date, over 40 buildings have been rehabilitated and restored to their original late 1800s architectural beauty, winning Sheboygan Falls “The Great American Main Street Award” in 1995. This award is given to only five communities annually on a nationwide basis in recognition of their revitalization efforts.

Sheboygan Falls Historic Downtown District

Sheboygan Falls History

In 1835, upon finding the falls of the Sheboygan River and their fine water power, Massachusetts pioneer and entrepreneur Silas Stedman decided to purchase the surrounding land for village and industrial development.  The following year, Stedman platted the Town of Rochester and built the first sawmill at the falls.

Sheboygan Falls History

By 1849, the industrial center grew to three sawmills, a tanning mill manufactory, two flour mills and an iron foundry.

Sheboygan Falls History

In 1850, Wisconsin legislators renamed the Town of Rochester to Sheboygan Falls and the village continued to develop throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.  

Sheboygan Falls History

The Downtown Sheboygan Falls Historic District encapsulates this history.  This compact and picturesque district contains many industrial and commercial building examples in a variety of architectural styles dating from the 1840s through the early 20th century.  This district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Cole Historic District

The Cole Historic District is one of the few remaining historic districts in the state of Wisconsin to display the early development of a Wisconsin community from the 1830s and 1840s.  The district’s two residences, mill house and hotel, built between 1837 and 1848 in Greek Revival style, were owned by pioneer settler and entrepreneur Charles D. Cole.  After the construction of the Sheboygan River bridge in 1839, this area declined and Sheboygan Falls developed on the west side of the river.