Old Structures Inside and Out

Old Structures Inside and Out

Exploring old structures inside and out is exciting. There is nothing more thrilling than driving upon an old barn or structure that captures my attention. Well, except for old vehicles 🙂   

Some of my old building finds are located in the country and many times, right smack dab in the middle of a city.

Soon these structures will be faded memories. Old barns give way, old homes get torn down and old city buildings get knocked down to make way for something new. I feel a certain need to photograph the structures. To preserve the memory and some occasions to find out and share the history.

Old Structures Inside & Out

A Journey Through Wisconsin’s Past: Venture beyond the main thoroughfares, and you’ll find yourself on a journey through Wisconsin’s past. The back roads and county fields unfold like chapters in a history book, revealing the resilience of a community deeply rooted in its agricultural traditions and the allure of a time when life moved at a gentler pace.

Discover the Unseen: As you traverse these hidden routes, you’re not just driving; you’re discovering. The back roads and county fields of Wisconsin hold treasures that transcend time, inviting you to explore, reflect, and appreciate the rich tapestry of history woven into the landscape. So, buckle up and set forth on a voyage to uncover the allure of vintage charm in the heart of Wisconsin’s countryside.


Old House Stephenson, Wisconsin

Old House Stephenson, Wisconsin

An old house that my husband and I ran across on a Sunday drive together. I have found my happy balance of spending time on weekends lately with my husband. Trap two people in a car together without a radio or internet and people talk and share a great deal of information. 

Inside the Old Rail Car

Coffee is On Inside an Old Railroad Car

Coffee is on inside an old railroad car. It has all the comforts of home.

Mill in Cades Cove Tennessee Smokey Mountains National Park

Just Before the Rain Set In

Cades Cove is an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The cove holds some historical buildings and is an excellent place for wildlife viewing.  We went during early spring and tried to dodge in-between the rains to explore.

Inside One of the Old Cabins Smokey Mountain NP

Inside One of the Old Cabins

Ventured out into the heavily wooded areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park trying to locate the old section of cabins on this visit.  Our first attempt was unsuccessful.  We stopped at a local country shop and the gentleman there knew exactly what I was wanting to see and drew us a map.

The cabins met the wrecking ball the following week. We were successful, the heavy rains didn’t stop us, but the trees and rain took out our umbrella and we were a muddy mess. See the entire posting from the day.

Outhouse Toilet

Outhouse Photography

An old one-seater outhouse toilet that is still hanging around.  I love coming across old structures!

One-Seater Old Outhouse

One Seater Old Outhouse

Seat for one. Old outhouses are still found throughout Wisconsin.

Although, you may not want to use a good portion of them.

Never Meet One I Haven’t Photographed

I’ve never met one that I haven’t photographed.  Outhouse photography gives you a look inside old outhouses. 

Outhouses are still found throughout Wisconsin.  Many are located in country areas with heavy tree cover or in areas that have cottages around lakes.

A Look Inside


Some have been kept up and are still in use.  Others have gone into disrepair.

Moon and Stars Outhouse

Outhouse in Winter

Why There Are Moon & Stars on Outhouses?

The crescent moon cutout and the star cutout on the door of many outhouses go back to Colonial times. The cutouts on the outhouses came about at a time when few people could read, the crescent moon was the symbol for women and the star cutout was for men.

Another interesting fact about the symbol as it was usually cut out just above eyesight range. It let sunlight in during the day and moonlight during the night but didn’t allow anyone to see into the privy for privacy. Outhouses didn’t have electricity – thus, no lights.

Here’s A Reason I Chuckle Often

Each time I go out to the hunting grounds, where only the “guys” hunt, there is an outhouse.  Notice the symbol on the door in the picture above.

The outhouse has a symbol for females.  Oh, I love you guys too! My very own outhouse 🙂 

Turret Spring House Rock Island State Park, TN

Turret Spring House Rock Island State Park, TN

Located in Rock Island State Park in Tennessee. The spring house was built in the 1890s.

The Spring Castle has a medieval-looking turret and is set back into a hill. The elaborate spring house was built when the cotton mill across the street was in operation.

There is a reservoir behind the stone wall that has a natural spring, The spring provides water for the town, the mill, and also for fire protection for the cotton mill across the street.

Old Bell Tower

Pigeons Live in the Bell Tower

Pigeons made a home for themselves in the bell tower of this old church


Old Cheese Factory Southern Door County

Old Cheese Factory Door County

Old Belgian stonework makes up the outside of this outbuilding in Southern Door County from my vintage photography collection. I was told by the locals it served as a cheese factory and store back in the day. The counties had small community cheese factories that they would visit.

No Officer – The Barn Made Me

The Red Barn Made Me Do It - Barns were painted by using linseed oil long ago. That gave them a reddish orange look. Some farmers added rust to the linseed oil because it helped to kill algae and prevent it from growing on their structures.

I pulled off on the side of a county road to take a picture of this barn in Brown County, WI. The red barn stuck out beautifully against the snow.

As I was grabbing my camera out of the back of my car an officer stopped and asked if I needed help. It was a nice gesture.

Why Were Barns Painted Red?

He asked me if I knew why most barns were painted red. I did, but wanted to hear his version. Pretty much the same as I had heard.

Barns were painted by using linseed oil long ago. That gave them a reddish-orange look. Some farmers added rust to the linseed oil because it helped to kill algae and prevent it from growing on their structures.

Pembine Wisconsin Milwaukee Railroad Train Depot

Former Milwaukee Road station in Pembine, Wisconsin

Pictured is the former Pembine Wisconsin Milwaukee Railroad Train Depot Wisconsin. Pembine was named after the Pemebonwon River. The name means cranberry in the language of the Menominee Indians.

What Is It?

This union depot was the former Milwaukee Road station. This is the crossing of the CN (former Soo Line) and the E&LS (former Milwaukee Road).

When Was It Built?

The station located in Pembine was built in 1887 when the logging industry was flourishing in the area. The heyday of logging is long over but the depot seems to still be used by the railroad by the rail cars stored on the side tracks.

Is It Still Used?

The depot is still used as a maintenance facility by CP Rail for maintaining track between Goodman and Menominee River. Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad runs a train daily from Ontonagon, MI, and Green Bay, WI.

Lower Ore Dock Marquette Michigan

End Of The Day Lower Ore Dock

The lower ore dock in Marquette Michigan is a good place to stand during the early eve.

A pastel coloring consumes the sky for an area that is most certainly a sunrise location over Lake Superior. 

See the additional places we visited on this trip under the photography blog posting  Lower Ore Dock Marquette Michigan.

1798 Rice Grist Mill Lake City, TN

1798 Rice Grist Mill Lake City, TN

Rice Grist Mill Lake City, TN. This 18th Century Rice Grist Mill was originally constructed in 1798 in Union County. The mill was later dismantled and rebuilt on Clear Creek in 1935, where it sits today.

The mill is a two-story log structure with a wooden water wheel. Water is channeled from the top of the wheel and pours over allowing the wheel to turn. Read the blog post.

Old District Number 8 Schoolhouse

District Number 8 1901 Schoolhouse Door County, Wisconsin


District number 8 brick schoolhouse. This building was built in 1901 and housed many grades from the Southern Door, Wisconsin area.

I have blogged about some additional buildings and structures from the area under the photography blog post Belgian Brick by Brick.

Honey House

Honey House Door County, Wisconsin

This building was the building where honey was processed, located on an old cherry orchard property in Door County, Wisconsin that had bee houses on the property to help pollinate the cherry trees. You can read additional information on the property under the photography blog post – Honey House in Door County.

Last Covered Bridge in Wisconsin

Wisconsins Last Covered Bridge

Wisconsin once had over 40 covered bridges, that is just an amazing fact to me. The last covered bridge in Wisconsin is located in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.  Want to read a little more about the history of these bridges? Look for the photography blog posting  Last Covered Bridge in Wisconsin.

St Coletta Jefferson, Wisconsin

St. Coletta Institute for Backward Youth, was a medical, residential, and educational institution for the developmentally disabled. It was organized by the sisters of St. Francis Assisi in 1904 at the behest of Father George Meyer of St. Lawrence Catholic Church - We walked around the front and side of the building on our way up to the church and graveyard. Our main purpose was to get to the top of the hill for the graveyard and church.

The places you explore that you didn’t have a clue about!  I received a brief history lesson about this building called St. Coletta Institute for Backward Youth. It was a medical, residential, and educational institution for the developmentally disabled. It was organized by the sisters of St. Francis Assisi in 1904 at the behest of Father George Meyer of St. Lawrence Catholic Church.

I have a post that shares additional pictures and information from the area.  Including a little history about a daughter of a United States President that lived on the grounds of the institute. You can read the photography blog  St Coletta Jefferson Wisconsin post for additional information.

Old IGA Store in Watson Michigan

Old IGA Store Watson, Michigan

My husband and I took an extra-long motorcycle ride from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula a few years back.  We stumbled upon this beautiful old IGA store in Watson Michigan You can see additional pictures from the visit under Old IGA Store Watson, Michigan.

Rockland Lincoln School Brown County, Wisconsin

Rockland Lincoln School

Rockland was settled by immigrants of mainly German, Dutch, and Irish heritage. This schoolhouse was established in 1901. I was sad to get the word about a month after I photographed the schoolhouse that it had burnt down.

Gone but not forgotten. 

You can read a little more about the history of this little school under the post- Rockland Lincoln School. 

Train Swing Bridge

Train Bridge Over Water in Green Bay, Wisconsin

A train bridge that rotates over the Fox River in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The swing bridge will rotate over the water to allow trains to cross.  It is still in operation today. 

Backroads Denmark Wisconsin

Backroads Denmark, Wisconsin

Feeding the need to hit the road – today, that journey leads me down backroads Denmark Wisconsin. Once in a while, I happen upon an old building, structure, or vehicle that will make me let out a squeal and scare anyone who is along for the ride
Thankfully, nobody was with me this weekend when I drove up to this old schoolhouse or church (not sure which).  Anyone who would have been along for my ride most certainly would have had some form of heart arrhythmia with my vocalization of this find.

Round Barn Vanishing Symbol

Vanishing Symbol Octagon Barn in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin

A man by the name of Orson Fowler wrote a book on octagon-shaped barns. According to him, it was a better utilization of space. It required fewer materials and less time to build
This octagon barn was found in Kewaunee, County in Wisconsin. A huge advantage for Wisconsin communities along the Lake Michigan shoreline was that the octagon shape withstood heavy winds
Most of the octagon-shaped barns were built between 1880 and 1920

Stavkirke Church Washington Island, Wisconsin

The Stavkirke Church on Washington Island

The Stavkirke Church on Washington Island is patterned after an ancient church of Norway from medieval times. You can see the Viking shipbuilding influence in the interior and exterior architecture.

There are four dragons on the front and rear roofs of the church which were designed from a Stavkirke book. There is a prayer path to stroll along and sit and reflect. This is a lovely example of Scandinavian architecture. Read a little more about the church and see additional pictures and posts from the area.

White Star Psychic Church Brussels, Wisconsin

White Star Psychic Church Brussels, Wisconsin

I love the history of this church.  In the 1880’s John B Evearts wife fell ill.  Traditional doctors gave her no hope. John brought his wife to a spiritualist medium, who healed his wife. The medium told John, he to had the gift and needed to practice it.  John quit his job, sold his business, and built The White Star Church in 1888.

The church still stands today and does have a following in the area.  It is the last remaining spiritualist church in Northeast Wisconsin and one of the few remaining in Wisconsin. My daughter and I paid a visit to church one Sunday, it was an interesting experience.

Hotel Hell

Hotel Hell Maribel, Wisconsin

This building is commonly known to locals as Hotel Hell, plenty of history and stories surround this building. So, which are facts and which are fiction? What is the history of the building?  Read about The Maribel Hotel.

Sturgeon Bay Historic Steel Bridge

Historic Sturgeon Bay Bridge

The Sturgeon Bay Bridge (known as the Michigan Street Bridge) is a historic bridge in Sturgeon Bay,  Wisconsin, United States. The bridge was built in 1929 and opened July 4, 1931, with a grand parade where it was officially dedicated as a Door County Veterans Memorial which plaques at either end still reads “To honor those who gave of themselves, to their country, in times of need” as a gift by the State of Wisconsin. 

Anderson Dock / Francis Hardy Gallery

Francis Hardy Building Writing

The Francis Hardy Gallery is housed in a building that is a part of the water navigation history of Lake Michigan in Ephraim, Wisconsin. Sailors once left messages on the building for other sailors on it. Today, visitors to the gallery now leave their mark. If you want additional history or to see photos of the building please visit Door County Anderson Dock posting.

Old Brick Building in Oconto County

Old Brick Building in Oconto County

An old brick building in Oconto County, WI. I believe this building was once used as the general store in a country area. Now, it is covered with rich, green ivy.

If anyone knows the backstory of the building feel free to email me at nikkilynndesigns (@) gmail.com

Abandon House Door County, Wisconsin

Abandon Wisconsin

Ok, the house has been abandoned but the land is owned. This seems to be a common theme in Wisconsin. Farmers use the land around the homes to grow crops but leave the old farmhouses on the land.

Inside Railroad Storage Building

Inside of an old railroad storage shed with no lights and dark as can be, except one glorious window of light.  I used an old cupboard as a tripod to get this indoor shot. For myself, photography just gives me another reason to ask for permission to explore places that many people won’t think of going.

Crystal River Grist Mill

Crystal River Grist Mill 1855

The Crystal River Grist Mill in Waupaca, Wisconsin was built in 1855 and it was a property that I wouldn’t have paid a visit to if we weren’t in the area for a funeral.  A local paper caught my eye at breakfast of a little chapel and that is what guided me to the mill.  

Moon and Stars Outhouse

Moon and Stars Outhouse

The moon and star cutouts on the outhouses came about at a time when few people could read, The crescent moon was the symbol of women and the star cutout was for men.

No White Picket Fence

No White Picket Fence

This old home holds four bedrooms. It amazes me how many family members could fit into one home. They certainly used every square cm of the home.

Storms A Brewing

Storms a Brewing

The sky over this old farmhouse was begging me for my attention.

The Perfect Sunday Find

The Perfect Sunday Find

This old barn was the perfect place to pull over. The barn has been standing for over 100 years. Hopefully, they can fix it up enough to last a little longer.

Stone Barn In Winter

Stone Barn In Winter

Old stone barns make up much of the Wisconsin country roads. This one has both, stonework and wooden framing.

Smiley Road

Smiley Road

An old barn located in Marinette County, Wisconsin.

Merging Traffic Barn

Merging Traffic Barn

Merging traffic signs are used as a barrier in a country barn.

Ye Old Chicken Coop

Ye Old Chicken Coop

An old chicken coop and hen house. As you can see the chicken fertilizer works well for growth. Look at the vegetation growing out of it.

Ivy Barn

Ivy Barn

Zazzle / Fine Art

This old barn has plenty of charm, even in late fall.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Old Home or cabin. This little structure contained every room you would find in a house. Including an attached outhouse.

Fieldstone Spring House

Fieldstone Spring House

Paradise Springs is a fieldstone spring house in Wisconsin.

Most spring houses served a purely functional purpose—to protect the springs and to allow access to the water for bottling purposes.

This springhouse was beautiful as well as functional. Mr. Petit built this spring house in the early 1930s with a wooden-and-copper dome roof and colorful fieldstone walls, no doubt one of the most elaborate spring houses ever built in Wisconsin.

Though the roof is gone, the beauty of this spring house remains.

Little Cabin in the Woods

Little Cabin in the Woods

Little cabins are all over the Northwoods, Wisconsin. Peaceful places to be one with nature on the weekends.

Old Schoolhouse

Old Schoolhouse Square

The old schoolhouse in Kewaunee County. Beautiful old structure!

Old Cherry Orchard Store

Old Cherry Orchard Store

This old building in Door County, WI has plenty of character and history within its walls.

The building was an old cherry store. Customers would drive up to the parking lot, get pails and go out and pick cherries.

After the customers picked their cherries they would pay for their goods.

If you want to read more about this Door County property and see additional pictures read the blog post. 

Locked Out

Locked Out

Hand-forged lock from the metal forging days. This lock was on a tool building on an old Wisconsin homestead land.

Back Roads Wisconsin Barn

Back Roads Wisconsin Barn

Brussels, Wisconsin. The area has plenty of old barns built by the settlers to the area.

Old Barn on the Quietside

Old Barn on the Quietside

Door County barn photographed in the snow.

Old Fashion Christmas Window Display

Old Fashion Christmas Window Display

Old fashion Christmas window display.

Old Medical Office

Old Medical Office

An old doctor’s office desk and tools.

Inside Old Dinner Train Car

Inside Old Dinner Train Car

Dinner is on! The inside of an old railroad dining car. Wonder how many dinners were served in this car?

Oppressively Somber

What once was a strong and sturdy shell has become oppressively somber standing among the overgrown thicket outside her front door.

Oppressively Somber

For many years she remained strong and sturdy, able to withstand anything thrown at her. Until one-day things become too difficult. The unsteady and wobbly base could no longer handle the heavy weight and rendered her useless.

Even in her darkest hour, one can still see the strength and beauty in her outside appearance.

The Roads Less Traveled

We enjoy traveling all the country roads in Kentucky and Tennessee while keeping an eye out for impressive buildings, houses, and barns.

Old Barn

We were able to track down a few nice finds that were set back in fields and on the edge of wooded areas.

Few Remaining Sections of Paint

Old Barn

I am absolutely in love with the few remaining sections of paint on this old barn.

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