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Local History Index

  The Village of Sussex was incorporated in 1924 from the hamlets (towns) of Sussex (1842, some say 1837) and Templeton (1886).  The Village is generally small town in nature, but there are some subdivisions and a unique 221-acre  industrial park. 

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 12/07/2014

     The Village Hall is located at the beautifully renovated  Sussex Main Street School House , and is generally open Monday through Friday, call 246-5200  The elected Village Board consists of an elected President, and six supervisors, along with a Village Administrator. The Village maintains the Sussex Fire & Rescue Department at 246-5197 [or dial 911]  on Main Street .  The Village Hall also houses a Waukesha County Sheriff Sub-Station which provides Village police protection, call 548-7117 [ or dial 911].

1950's L. L. Cook card - Community Hall in Sussex

Statistics & Facts

Sussex - a post-village in Lisbon township, Waukesha county, Wisconsin, 16 miles N. W. from Milwaukee. It contains 1 wagon shop, 1 saw mill, l school house, and an Episcopal church. Population, 100. Source: 1854 U.S. Gazetteer,  p.1128

The population of Sussex is approximately 5039.
The approximate number of families is 1803.

The amount of land area in Sussex is 10.104 sq. kilometers.
The amount of surface water is 0 sq kilometers.
The distance from Sussex to Washington DC is 680 miles. The distance to the Wisconsin state capital is 62 miles. (as the crow flies)
Sussex is positioned 43.13 degrees north of the equator and 88.21 degrees west of the prime meridian.

*Area Code for the Village is 262.

Sussex in 1864

South of Main St. (left to right): C. Cooling, J. Pettard, R. Russell, T. Campbell (Wagon & Blacksmith shops), J. Hickmot with R. Weaver (dealer in New York and Wisconsin hops) store and J. Brown in front, J. Andrews with C. Cooling (blacksmith and carriage factory) and R. Cooling (store and P.O.) in front, J. & C. Russell, W. Weaver, A. Davidson, J. E. Brown (carpenter and joiner).

North of Main St. (left to right): E. Champeney, parsonage, Town lot, R. Weaver, store, Jno. Reeve, C. E. Craven, Jas. Elliott, Episcopal Church (St. Alban's), E. Boots, H. Boots, E. Boots, Jr. brewery, saloon, R. Cooling, J. Russell, W. Medhurst, Jas. Weaver, J. Russell, J. Stone, school.

Sussex, England

From logos to ice cream social, Sussex plans to mark its 75 years - Organizers prepare events to add to celebration of village's anniversary

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, February 4, 1999

Readability: 11-12 grade level (Lexile: 1270L)
Author: CINDY CREBBIN, Special to the Journal Sentinel
 

An ice cream social with a historical theme and a special float in the annual Lion Daze Parade are just a few of the plans for the village's 75th anniversary celebration.

The Community Development Authority, which focuses on downtown development, is planning a diverse celebration.

Events will stretch into the summer, culminating with Sussex 's anniversary month in September, Village President Patricia K. Bartlett said.

Proposals include several designs for an anniversary logo, which will be printed on T-shirts and mugs available to purchase "to build a communitywide identity," Village Administrator Chris Swartz said.

Swartz also is hoping flags with the logo can be flown from poles on Main St.

According to a history written by village historian Fred Keller , the municipality became a village on Sept. 12, 1924, breaking away from the Town of Lisbon after 86 years.

Its population was 323 at the time. Sussex 's population grew to 5,000 by 1990 and has a current population of about 7,800 in an area of about 4.5 square miles.

One of the events in the planning stages is to have a downtown street dance.

"Years ago, Sussex closed off Main Street and got a band and had dancing on the street," Bartlett said.

Swartz said: "The important thing is the close-knit community here -- we're a small-town USA. Communities are losing their identities. But Sussex has always been a community trying to maintain that (identity). It's always been based on people helping people.

"For our 75th anniversary, we want to celebrate that and let people know what we're still about. . . . This is a great place to be," he said. "We have a lot of really good, strong people here."

One of those who agrees with Swartz is Paul Fleischmann, who served as village president from 1971 to 1981.

Fleischmann, 73, now chairman of the Water Commission, served on the Village Board for 32 years. Fleischmann has lived almost his entire life in the village, with the exception of a brief period when he lived with his parents in Waukesha and Dousman.

Looking back to the years he was president, Fleischmann said he is most proud of the land use plan of 1989 that was adopted for future development.

"We're seeing the effects of that today, such as the industrial park at highways J and K and on the east end of the village," he said.

Sussex hall built on hope, and still standing - Built during Depression, it now houses teen center and food pantry

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, November 6, 1997

Readability: 10-12 grade level (Lexile: 1170L)
Author: CINDY CREBBIN, Special to the Journal Sentinel
 

Built 60 years ago of concrete blocks inside and Lannon stone outside, the two-story Sussex Community Hall was shaped by workers whose wages ranged from 35 cents to 70 cents an hour.

A Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression, these were the typical hourly wages: water boy, 35 cents; unskilled concrete laborer, 40 cents; a skilled plumber, 60 cents; and a foreman, say an ironworker, 70 cents.

These are just some of the interesting facts those attending the hall's recent 60th anniversary celebration learned from Village Historian Fred Keller , who gave a slide presentation at the community hall. The event was sponsored by the Sussex Teen Center, which now uses part of the hall.

Keller , 65, noted the hall was one of the projects built during President Franklin Roosevelt's administration to put people back to work.

The community hall, N63-W23626 Silver Spring Drive, cost $27,000 to build. A WPA grant of $11,046 and a loan of $13,500 were given by the federal government.

Keller , who has more than 260 books referencing the history of Sussex -- 15 of which he has written -- said 14 $1,000 bonds were sold to help pay for the hall. The bonds were dated April 1, or April Fool's Day, 1937 and were due on the same day -- April 1, 1940, he said.

"It's ironic at that time, taxable property in the village was assessed at $439,319. Today, recent estimates for just renovating the historic hall run about $400,000," he said.

According to Keller , more than 400 people -- most of the community of 496 residents -- went through the Sussex Village and Community Hall during its grand opening, six months after construction had started. The Menomonee Falls Legion Band provided music for the event.

Today, Sussex has a population of about 7,500.

When the hall was built, it had a siren on top, which was used to alert people of fires.

"Years ago, it was also used for a curfew warning at 10 p.m. for kids," recalled Keller . "Now the siren is used as a tornado warning."

Keller said the auditorium-gym upstairs in the community hall was used for basketball games, including teams from the village's two-year high school.

Keller also recalled that the longest shot ever made by a basketball player in the gym was during a Sussex High School game in 1945. Bob Fryda, now a prominent farmer in neighboring Lisbon, attempted to throw the ball to another player near the basket. Instead, the ball zoomed the length of the gym floor, landing right in the basket.

The gym, which could seat 500 people, also was used for school plays, graduations, wedding receptions and an annual flower show by area elementary school students.

The lower level of the hall was used for Village Board meetings.

The back part of the lower level of the hall, facing Silver Spring Drive, housed the Fire Department. Keller said one feature of that department people didn't see was the 40,000-gallon water cistern, underneath the hall, used for fighting fires. Previously, water had to be pumped from a flooded quarry a mile away.

When the Fire Department moved out of the hall in 1963, that portion became the public works garage.

Then, in 1976-'77, the garage area and adjacent lower area were remodeled into the first Village Hall. It was the Village Hall until 1990, when the Main Street School became the Sussex Civic Center.

Gym use in the building ended in 1989, and the Sussex Teen Center now uses the upstairs. The downstairs houses the Sussex Emergency Food Pantry and the executive offices for the Cooperating Churches of Sussex , which sponsors the pantry.

About a year ago, Judy Casper, director of ministries for the Cooperating Churches of Sussex , proposed the hall be renovated and brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The renovations, which were estimated to cost at least $400,000 over a 10-year period, failed to win approval of the Public Safety and Welfare Committee of Sussex .

However, Keller said he expects the improvements to be done "piecemeal," possibly over a five-year period. Already, he said, St. James Church in Sussex has received a $30,000 grant to be used to improve the food pantry itself and make it accessible to people with disabilities
Caption: Photos color 1, 2 JEFFREY PHELPS STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Top photo: The old Sussex Village Hall now houses a teen center, a food pantry and church offices. The building, which has served many purposes over the years, went up during the Great Depression and just celebrated its 60th birthday. Above: Judy Casper, director of ministries for the Sussex food pantry, folds clothes at the hall
Memo: Photos ran in Zone H

Sussex logo tree loses major branch

One of the "must see" sites in Sussex, and the Village Park, is the estimated 282-year-old Burr Oak adjacent to North Diamond, just off Sunset Drive. It has a historical marker that one can read as they walk past it on the paved mile and a quarter walking trail.

On Friday, June 27, it was observed that a massive branch of this tree, estimated at 50 feet in length and 50 feet in its "fan," had fallen off the tree, disfiguring the tree that became part of the Sussex village logo in 1989.

I am intrinsically involved with this tree, as I was on the original Sussex Park Board, and in 1988-89, the person who helped design the Sussex logo, inadvertently. In that period, I was also the Sussex Parks Superintendent (1977-94). As part of my job, I attended Sussex Park and Recreation Committee meetings. Around February 1988, while attending the monthly park board meeting, the board came up with the idea of having a Sussex Parks logo. Jim Cunningham, Chuck Louderback and I were put on the committee. I had some definite ideas about including the tree, which was about 250 years old at the time, as an important part of the logo. I also wanted the park's rolling glacial hills emphasized. Quad Graphics was an important new part of Sussex at that time. An inquiry with their art department was made, and Quad's Jim Rudek put the park committee in contact with the Milwaukee Magazine art department, with their artist group of Jacqui Mohr, Janis Stewart and Debbie Owen involved.

In early March 1988, the group met with the artists and I described the tree and the rolling glacial hills, and the trio sketched designs, and very quickly came up with what the park trio thought was appropriate. A subsequent meeting, just involving me and the artists, the idea of the Sussex parks logo came forward. The main reason the park board was looking for a logo was a new activities brochure was going to be printed for the community.

When Sussex Administrator Dave Anderson saw the park logo, he suggested that it be changed with the "Park" part removed, and it would convert to a "Village of Sussex" logo for the whole community. Anderson and the trustees had the logo modified to their liking, essentially stealing it from the park committee for the community's logo.

In 1982, a park crew was cleaning out a glacial knoll that was infested with Box Elder trees, weeds and rotting, crashed fallen limbs. It was northeast of the North Diamond and, in the shrouded jungle, the massive Burr Oak was discovered. It took the outstretched arms of an estimated four people to encircle its trunk.

Just how old was this tree?

I went to the Sussex Library and read up about it and came up with an age estimate of 250 years. A short time later, John Rolefson, a forester trained at UW-Stevens Point was called in to make identification of various Village Park trees, and to estimate the age of the massive Burr Oak. He came up with a minimum of 225 years and a possibility of 300 years old. Subsequently, another set of professional foresters were in the area and, being asked to estimate its age, they put it at 235-300 years old, and saying off-hand, "if you want to know its exact age, cut it down and count its rings."

They also said there was a way to get a special wood boring core and the rings could be counted from this boring when it was extracted, but suggested against it as it would leave a wound in the tree that could possibly kill it.

With all of this information, I had a plaque put up in 1985 estimating that the tree was about 250 years old. And what happened 250 years before the 1982 discovery? George Washington was born in 1732 and the tree was christened as the "George Washington Burr Oak."

In 1999, a new plaque went up, explaining the significance of the tree and the use of it in the village logo, and it is still there.

Sussex Recreation Coordinator Megan Sackett set it up for Wednesday, June 25, where I would lead a group of children to show and tell the Sussex logo tree, and then give a guided tour of the historic St. Alban's Cemetery and the interior of the stone church, which was built in 1864-66. They initially gathered at the logo tree, about 30 in the group, including adult group guides, and they had a close examination of it.

Two days later, this mega tree had a massive limb fall off. It looks to be a fracture at the trunk of the tree where the vast weight of the tree branch decided it was just too heavy for the socket and it came down.

Because no one heard the branch crack and fall, does that mean there was no noise?

 

 

 

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