The Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum is located just a few miles outside of Kenosha, Wisconsin in the town of Somers. The site includes a Nature Center, three historic buildings from the turn of the century, a heritage farmstead, and observatory. The site combines history, nature and horticulture, reflective of the interests of the original owner, Ruth Teuscher and her sister, Margaret.
The Nature Center is home to a small plot of original prairie, a historical ecosystem that serves as an example of the original Midwest. This ecosystem exists alongside a larger section of restored prairie, as well as woodlands and a dwarf conifer collection, perennial gardens and a butterfly garden. A 12-acre arboretum is lined on the southern boundary with Ruth Teuscher’s original lilac collection. Two miles of nature trails wind through the Pike River Valley, including the Old Indian Trail. Otherwise known as the Jambeau trail, the path has been in existence since before the United States was established, used by Indian tribes walking from what is today Green Bay to Chicago. Most recently, the trail was used by the Potawatomi tribe of the Algonquin nation, followed by European settlers to the area. A replica wigwam on the trail offers an example of the Potawatomi shelters that existed hundreds of years ago.
Wildlife viewing at Hawthorn Hollow is focused primarily on bird watching. The nature preserve is a prime destination for migratory birds passing through Wisconsin, as well as a robust population of year-round residents. A Heritage Farmstead on site offers lessons in beekeeping, and grows heritage vegetables in a community garden.
Three historic buildings were moved to the property in 1967. These include the original Pike River School, established in 1847, its second incarnation, which was built in 1906, and the original Somers Town Hall, built in 1859. A Nature Center on the property was built in the 1940’s to originally serve as the stable to Ruth’s six horses. The building was converted to a Nature Center when the last of Ruth’s horses passed from old age. A red-brick two-story Colonial home was built as a residence in the 1950’s. Today, the building is the home and office of Hawthorn Hollow’s director.
History: Ruth Teuscher bought the first 40 acres of the Hawthorn Hollow property in 1935. Ruth and her sister, Margaret, were both school teachers in Racine, and used the property as a wildlife sanctuary, a place to picnic and camp. To preserve the site’s buildings, wildlife and natural resources, the sisters deeded the property to the Hyslop Foundation in 1967. In the same year, the three historic buildings were moved on site. In 1988, Friends of Hawthorne Hollow was established to provide financial support to maintain the gardens and facilities through memberships and donations.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Educational opportunities for all ages are offered in keeping with Hawthorn Hollow’s mission. Classes include a Wildflower Walk Series, which takes place in May and September and is hosted by Hawthorn Hollow’s Restoration Ecologist. The Bird Lovers Series offers several different programs from a Bird Walk, to classes on attracting bluebirds, the Wisconsin state bird. The Heritage Workshop Series teaches local gardeners everything from harvesting heritage seeds, to building garden paths, to quilting and candle making. In the late winter months, the popular Maple Sugarin’ class offers an interactive history lesson in the traditions behind tapping maple trees for sugar.
Field trips invite students to attend nature-based learning programs. The 2-hour outdoor programs meet the Wisconsin social studies and science curriculum requirements for grade four. Topics include seed dispersal and the plant life cycle, sugar maple trees and Wisconsin’s history of maple sugaring, and the history of the Potawatomi and the Old Indian Trail. A schoolhouse program designed for third graders takes place in the Nature Center’s historic one-room schoolhouses.
Events at Hawthorne Hollow draw over 10,000 visitors annually. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the Walk in the Woods Art Fair. Local artists and artisans showcase their wares along the path through the woods. Family friendly games and activities, food and drink are also offered. The Pike River Benefit Concert Series fundraises for Hawthorne Hollow. Shows take place at the outdoor amphitheater through June, July and August. The annual fundraiser, Birds and Breakfast, takes place each spring at the peak of the migratory birding season. A hearty pancake breakfast is followed by a walk through the trails to bird watch.
880 Green Bay Road, Kenosha, WI 53144, Phone: 262-552-8196