Appleton – My 3rd home
Here are a few little-known facts about Appleton that involve the Fox River:
• The Fox River flows northeasterly from Lake Winnebago into Lake Michigan, which seems to be flowing upward, against nature.
• The dam across the Fox River is the site of the first hydroelectric power plant in the world in 1882.
• Situated right next to the Fox River, the Hearthstone Historic House was the first private home in the world to have lights powered by a central hydroelectric station. The Hearthstone is now a museum, open to visitors for guided tours on the history of hydroelectric power in the area as well as the building's Victorian art and 19th-century architecture.
One of the best-kept secrets in the area, Lawrence University boasts a small but excellent private liberal arts college as well as a first-rate conservatory of music. As the second oldest coeducational institution of higher education in the country, Lawrence University was founded in 1847, a year before the state of Wisconsin was founded, in 1848.
A few tidbits about Lawrence University that involve the local community:
• Free (or low-cost) events are open to the public. These events include Convocations, lectures by faculty or guest speakers, classical and jazz music concerts and recitals by students, faculty, or guest artists, theatre plays and musicals, etc.
• The two most popular annual events hosted by the University are the Great Midwest Trivia Contest in January, which draws participants not only from on-campus teams but also from off-campus teams all over the country, and the International Cabaret in the spring, which features costumes, music, dance, and cuisine from around the world.
• Appleton's Attic Theatre is a community theatre group that stages plays and musicals within the University's facilities in the summer.
• Octoberfest in September and Art In the Park / Art Off the Park in the summer are two annual Appleton events that temporarily occupy the University grounds.
• Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (SLUG) is a student-run, non-profit project that grows and provides a variety of produce for the campus dining facilities as well as for sale at the farmer's market in downtown Appleton on Saturday mornings in the summer.
"History Museum at the Castle"
Formerly known as the Houdini Historical Center, the History Museum at the Castle is situated right next to the Lawrence University campus on the corner of College Avenue and Drew Street. The most popular exhibit in the museum features the internationally renowned magician and escape artist Harry Houdini, who grew up in Appleton as a young boy. The A.K.A. Houdini exhibit offers a fun experience for both adults and children.
Houdini's father was the first rabbi in Appleton and led the Jewish congregation in Temple Zion, Wisconsin's second oldest synagogue, which still stands on the corner of Harris and Durkee Streets – a mere one block from my apartment!! The synagogue is currently undergoing work to have it restored to its original appearance.