OAK CLEARING FARM
Oak Clearings is nestled in on a beautiful 90 acre wooded area located about 20 minutes west of the city of Racine, Wisconsin, in the Township of Yorkville. The farm has two creeks on property, one to the north and one to the south. Both have bridges over them and paths winding through the pristine woods. Nature is at its best and is usually left alone to come and go as it pleases. There are huge oak trees on property. One is noted to be over 15 feet in circumference and there are also many different varieties of them Burr Oak, Red Oak, and White Oak to name a few. Maples, Walnuts, Black Cherry, Willows, Pines and many other ornamental plantings are scattered here and there complimenting Mother Natures radiant touches. Oak Clearings also has acres of fenced areas for the family horses to roam and graze. Being a Century Farm established in 1867, Oak Clearing Farm has many of its own historical stories that add to the charm of the farm in the woods.
OAK CLEARING MUSEUM
This Racine County historical museum was brought into existence in 1988 with the mission of creating a local historical attraction in central Racine County. The museum itself is a work in progress with annual rotation of historical displays that refer to all parts of Racine County's history. The artifacts are an accumulation of over thirty years of collecting by owners Gerald and Marie Karwowski family. Gerald Karwowski who is a well known local historian has worked endlessly to accumulate, document and file the thousands upon thousands of relics pertaining to the people, places, businesses and events that have happened since the birth of Racine County.
The future of Oak Clearing Museum has never been in question to historian Gerald Karwowski. He has dedicated a better portion of his life to preserving and sharing in his knowledge of Racine County history. And being the owner of a beautiful parcel that he and his family has shared with many for the past decade, there has never been a dispute of what his agenda is. The question is how can it be completed and go on for future generations! As of spring 2000, Oak Clearings has been closed to the public with viewing by appointment only. The upper galleries of the museum have been dismantled. This was done because they were not conducive to proper display and access to the area. The hundreds of artifacts that were on display are now being cataloged, recorded and stored, waiting for a new "handicap accessible" home to be located on premises someday.
Local History Library
Our private local history library is one of the finest in Racine County. Having an extensive collection of hundreds of rare books, thousands of photographs and documents related to the Racine area. The library is used for museum purposes only and is not open to the public at this time. We recommend utilizing the Racine Public Library or the Racine Heritage Museum Library. These are public institutions and have the facilities designed for public use. However we will be sharing some of our information on this site.
The museum collection at Oak Clearings consists of thousands of artifacts related to the growth and change of Racine, County, between 1840 and present. Most of the relics were manufactured at one of our unique local industries. Everything is collected from full size tractors to advertising pencils . This is one of the largest privately owned collections devoted solely to the history of Racine County. Through these artifacts we open a window to the past. In the future we plan to share a few of these items with you.
The Old Forge Blacksmith Shop
The Old Forge blacksmith shop once serviced the needs of a booming Rochester, Wisconsin between 1855 and 1955. The first " Smithy" on the site was started by John Wood in a small colonial salt box style building in 1855. By 1876, Wood's sons joined the business and the old building was moved back and a new building was constructed with three forges. During the following decades a number of blacksmiths worked in the shop. After World War One Albert Helding purchased the shop and operated it until 1955 when he retired.
In 1968 while on a Sunday antique excursion in Racine County the Karwowskis' discovered the building. At that time Albert Heldings wife Gertrude was running a small antique shop in the front part of the building. It was called The Old Forge Antiques. After conversing for a while with Gertrude, the Karwowskis' were invited to see the back portion of the building which was closed off to the public. Little did they know that an old blacksmith shop laid intact beyond a pair of huge French doors that separated the two areas. There it was in it's entirety, as if it was stopped in time. The hammer laying on the anvil. The bills and ledgers on the desk. The old worn medicine cabinet with the owners false teeth in a box waiting for him to return in the morning and start another day of pounding hot metal to fill the customers orders. Years of dust and cobwebs had settled on everything. It was motionless and would not see activity again for the next 21 years.
In 1989, the shops interior came up for sale and was purchased by Jerry and Marie. It was inventoried and moved piece by piece to Oak Clearing Farm from its original home near the Fox River on Highway D in Rochester. The farms 100 year old dairy barn was remodeled just enough to fit the shop. During the moving process, great pains were taken to recreate and preserve the individuality of the original shop. Pictures of each section of the shop were taken and then artifacts were moved to the new location. The shop walls and workbenches are lined with hundreds upon hundreds of tools of the blacksmith trade including an ample supply of diversified horseshoes.
The Old Forge is once again operational and volunteer blacksmiths often fire up the forge tantalizing visitors senses with the smell of smoke, the ringing of the anvil, and the radiant glow of the heated metal that recreates an ambiance of days gone by. The Old Forge Blacksmith shop has been awaken from its rest and is now an attraction at the museum that many visitors have enjoyed.
The Rose-Callender House
This depiction of a pioneer home started out as the farm granary. The building was cleaned, remodeled and moved to its resting place on a little hill located behind the barn. It is surrounded by a wood fence with a gate in front and a brick path leads to the steps of the front door. As you enter you will take a step back in time.
The home features a bedroom, complete with rope bed, rag rugs, thunder mug and other antiques of the period. The parlor has a wood burning pot bellied stove and furnishings including the families old pump organ. In 1920 the William Callender homestead in the village of Union grove burnt to the ground. But, Belle Callender Foster the petite wife of Frank Foster managed to pull the large pump organ to safety. Belle was an avid organ player and when she moved to Oak Clearings the organ came with her. The kitchen also has a worn wood burning cook stove and sink with a pump. Tools and utensils, oil lamps and seasoned crocks all dating back to the 1800's complete the appearance of an early pioneer home.
The outside of the home is surrounded by trees and shrubs. There is an old clothes line from the house to a pole for the daily wash and a three seater outhouse right out back. This all overlooks a small pond and horse pasture. A very tranquil setting.
Early pioneers called this area of the state Oak Clearings because the groves of Oak trees with clearings of Hazel brush reminded them of there English homeland.
The name Oak Clearings is closely related to Acley, England. The original name for Aycliffe in Durham, meaning at the Woodland' or Oak Clearings. This place is now part of Middlesbrough, England.
This Page Is Dedicated in Loving Memory of
Alice Foster and Paul Foster
May they gaze down from the heavens onto
the farm with all it's splendid beauty...