The Village of Cambridge was established in 1847 at a dam on the Koshkonong Creek. Scottish and Norwegian farmers settled the area, building saw and gist mills, two general stores, two hotels, a boot and shoe shop, a harness shop, a cabinet shop, a tailor, a milliner store and a saloon all lined Main Street. One of the hotels on Main Street still stands and houses a jewelry store today.
By the 1860s, Cambridge had grown to a population of 250 residents. The town now boasted a blacksmith and repair shop, a hardware store a post office and a doctor's office. Many of the village's young men enlisted to serve in the Civil War. A statue in the Village Square today honors the veterans of that war.
In 1890 a fire broke out that destroyed much of the business district, as well as, some of the homes on upper Main Street.
The population of Cambridge had rebounded to 700, by the early 1900's. In the 20s, the automobile profoundly impacted Cambridge by spurring its growth as a tourist town. Vacationers started coming to Cambridge and Lake Ripley from Chicago as far back as the late 1800s. To promote Cambridge as a tourist attraction, the village adopted the symbol of a blue and yellow umbrella, and dubbed itself the "Umbrella City". This symbol (based off umbrellas used at the beach on Lake Ripley) is still used by the village in some of its promotions today.
The Cambridge of today features an energetic downtown area filled with unique shops, fanciful restaurants, a beautiful public beach on Lake Ripley, and a wonderful park system. Vacationers remain attracted to our village for the Festivals, Bed & Breakfast getaways, and the talent of local artisans. The hopes and dreams of our founders are alive and well in the Village of Cambridge today.
Cambridge Historic Museum: Local History & Culture Museum housed in the original,
restored Cambridge School building.
TEMPORARY EXHIBITS featuring local artists PERMANENT DISPLAYS
by the Cambridge Historic School Foundation & Koshkonong Prairie Historical Society
OPEN: May through October (except holidays)
Saturday & Sunday from 11am to 3:30pm
Wednesdays from 1 to 3pm
213 South Street, 1 block south of Main Street, between Lawn & High Streets
No admission fee is charged, however, Donations are Greatly Appreciated.