Waukesha County

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Waukesha County's Plan to Preserve the history of the Moor Downs property

Waukesha County believes in preserving significant representations of the City of Waukesha’s History.

Currently, the county has reached an agreement with the Wisconsin Historical Society to preserve and perpetuate the history of the Moor Downs property while allowing for demolition of the structure. The agreement  includes hiring a historian that specializes in historical photography to document the remaining structures in imagery and writing. The county will create and maintain a website that utilizes that information to memorialize the property. The county will also erect a historical marker that adheres to National Historical Marker guidelines. This information is outlined in the agreement the county has made with the State Historical Society.

That agreement is in addition to past preservation efforts, which include investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to preserve Moor Downs Golf Course as a functioning public course, the reconstruction of the Moor Downs Clubhouse building on the golf course, and donations of significant items to the Waukesha Historical Society.

Is maintaining the vacant former HHS building the only way to preserve Waukesha County’s history?

No. Nothing historic remains in the vacant building that used to house the Waukesha County Health and Human Services Building. If you were to step inside the building today, it would look no different than any other office building with fluorescent lighting, drop ceilings, drywall and cubicles. That’s because after the Moor Mud Baths closed in 1961, the building underwent many modern renovations to be repurposed as a seminary in 1962 and then as an office building in 1972. By the time the building was vacated in 2014, it had undergone 50 years of renovations to allow it to accommodate students, classrooms, and offices.

Waukesha County has been able to reach an agreement with the Wisconsin Historical Society that will preserve and perpetuate the property’s historical narrative, in accordance with state and federal requirements, while allowing for demolition of the structure. The agreement details the steps the County will take to document the history of the former resort through a website, a commemorative marker, photographs and a historical display.  

Is the rest of the property considered historic?

The Landmarks Commission designated the entire Moor Downs property as a “relatively intact example of a resort from Springs Era.” However, the footprint of the property and all of its structures were significantly altered before the historic designation was given. 

  • The golf course: Moor Downs Golf Course as the public knows it today is not located on the same plot of land that was used for golfing during the Springs Era. Moor Downs Golf Course (except for the 9th hole) was located entirely to the south of the former Health and Human Services Building until the 60s. The course ceased operations from 1963 – 1973, when Waukesha County took ownership of the property. Since the course reopened under Waukesha County ownership, modifications to the course were made to the course including changes necessary due to the City of Waukesha approving additional development adjacent to the course creating safety issues. 
  • The clubhouse: The clubhouse is almost entirely brand new, rebuilt in 2006 due to structural deterioration and mold. In January, 2006, the State of Wisconsin Historical Society determined the clubhouse was not a contributing element to the Grand View Health Resort/Moor Mud Bath National Register listed historic property.  
  • The springhouse:  The former springhouse is also on the golf course.  The structure dates to 1915.  At the request of the Waukesha County Historical Society in 1999, Waukesha County pledged to restore the springhouse at a projected cost of $95,000 contingent upon the Historical Society successfully fund raising for the cost of the project.  John Weber III, whose family established and operated the Moor Mud Bath Resort pledged to match any contributions up to $3,000. The Historical Society did not follow through with their fundraising pledge.