RACINE — Racine Heritage Museum will present walking tours of Downtown Racine for a third summer.
The Heritage Walking Tours continue every Saturday through Sept. 7. Racine’s historic downtown area is the backdrop for the tour where tour goers will experience Racine’s rich industrial and architectural heritage in and around the Downtown, lakefront and the Root River valley. They will learn the significance of buildings that remain and hear the echoes of structures no longer present.
The tour route starts on the steps of the Racine Heritage Museum, 701 Main St. Then it goes along the lakefront through the streets of Downtown where regal theaters and hotels once stood, continues along the Root River and finally passes among some of the most important sites on the Underground Railroad and where Wisconsin’s first high school once stood in 1853. Its first graduating class had eight girls and two boys.
Tour guides will paint a verbal picture of what was a bustling port and share information of changes that have taken place and continue to this day. They will share photographs documenting past and present structures. Among those would be the first YMCA, the second YMCA, the third YMCA and the upcoming location for the fourth YMCA.
Of course, people were key to Racine’s development and history, among them some firsts: a First Lady, the first woman ordained in the United States and the “father of the automotive industry.” Always in the mix were inventors, entrepreneurs and other notable Racine County residents who gave Racine its strong industrial story. Tour goers will learn about these people and others, their impact and how they lived.
A Heritage Walking tour is a great way to introduce family and friends to Racine while they visit during the summer. It is perfect for clubs, churches and companies wishing to acquaint members with the Racine community and its rich history.
“Quite often we have people who have lived in Racine for a long time say after taking the tour that they didn’t realize all of the wonderful history in Racine,” said Chris Paulson, executive director of the Racine Heritage Museum.
Enthusiastic and knowledgeable local volunteers, who can convey our local history and their love for Racine, lead the tours rain or shine.
Tour times are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Saturday. There is no tour the morning of June 15 when the Lighthouse Run participants will be filling Downtown streets. Tours are by reservation only and reservations should be made at least 48 hours in advance. Cost per person is $10, and participants must be at least 12 years old. To make a reservation online, go to www.racineheritagemuseum.org for secure payments with EventBrite. Tour length is about one hour and 40 minutes and covers approximately 1.1 miles. There are some slight inclines along the route as well as benches.
Each tour is limited in general to 15 participants per tour guide. This enables everyone to hear the presentation clearly. For groups exceeding 15 participants, it’s strongly advised to call the museum three days prior so additional guides can be scheduled.
On the day of your tour, arrive at least 10 minutes early to check in. Remember your ticket to expedite check in. Bring change for parking meters. The museum has no public parking. Parking can be on the street or in the upper levels of the McMynn Parking ramp located directly north of the museum. The restrooms at the museum are available to tour goers, but they are not handicap accessible.
For additional tour information, check the website or call the museum at 262-636-3926.