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nature

History

From humble beginnings, Lac Lawrann Conservancy has grown to 136 acres connecting people wiuth nature. With glacial landforms, deciduous woodlands, tall grass prairie, wetlands, lakes, ponds and a pine plantation, Lac Lawrann provides the experience of “wilderness” within city limits. Lac Lawrann Conservancy serves as a wildlife sanctuary, outdoor classroom, and hub of passive recreational activities.

Renovated facilities at the Conservancy include a farmhouse used for volunteer activities, and a barn that provides three-season space for limited classes, gatherings and exhibits.

Much has been accomplished over the past years and much more is yet to come. To help maximize its service to the community, the Friends of LLC built the Maurin Center which opened in 2013.

The land now known as Lac Lawrann Conservancy

1776

Southeastern Wisconsin is Potawatomi land in the Northwest Territory. There is evidence that American Indians have occupied the area for centuries; and the spring-fed lakes, ponds and the river of what will be the Lac Lawrann area was an attraction.

1833

The Potawatomi cede eastern Wisconsin lands to the national government in exchange for land west of the Mississippi.

1836

The lands of the area are mapped and divided into townships, sections, and quarter sections by U.S. surveyors.

1836

The Wisconsin Territory is established, incorporating what will be Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and parts of the Dakotas.

1845

A road through the wilderness from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac is surveyed. It soon will open the Barton area to setters from New England. European immigrants will soon follow.

1846

William Caldwell acquires 40 acres of future Lac Lawrann for $1.25 an acre.

1848

Wisconsin is named a state.

1866

Andrea and Walburga Schmidt, German immigrants, purchase much of the “Lac Lawrann” land. Their descendants will live on the land until 1986. The road running past the farm was named after the family.

1873

The Chicago Northwestern Railway is completed. It runs along the river to the south of Schmidt Road.

1900

August Schmidt sells a 100 foot wide strip of land running from the railway toward Wallace Lake. It will be used for a rail spur to haul ice cut from Wallace Lake to Milwaukee. The spur will also be used to transport “Cream City” brick from a brick factory located adjacent to “Brickyard Lake.” (now Lake Lenwood)

1930

Pete Ciriacks buys the land east of the spur including the pond which he modifies for muskrat farming. The muskrat venture was abandoned when Pete entered the Armed Forces in WWII.

1950

The now abandoned “spur” area has turned into an unauthorized disposal site for residents of the area and is littered with debris of all kinds. It also is serving as a convenient location for squatter’s shacks.

1955

Lawrence and Ann Maurin purchase 18 acres including the spur easement and pond naming it Lac Lawrann. They will devote countless hours clearing the property of junk, and improving the habitat. They will however, accommodate Fritz, a friendly squatter.

1970

The Maurin build their retirement home at Lac Lawrann, and will continue enhancing habitat.

1979

Maurins donate Lac Lawrann to the City of West Bend as a wildlife and conservancy area.

1980

The West Bend Park and Recreation Commission creates the Lac Lawrann Wildlife and Conservancy Policy Committee to oversee a conservation and management plan to preserve, maintain, and enhance native Wisconsin flora and fauna.

1986

After additional donations and purchases of land add 86 acres to the conservancy, the West Bend Common Council establishes the “Lac Lawrann Conservancy Trust to fund land purchases, capital projects, property improvements, and educational equipment and supplies, which are not part of ordinary City maintenance in the Lac Lawrann Conservancy area.”

1987

The first annual spring flower sale is held at Lac Lawrann.

1994

Friends of Lac Lawrann Conservancy, Inc. is established to assist in the protection, preservation and expansion of Lac Lawrann as a nature sanctuary,

1995

Investigation of the possible purchase of the 63 acre Rainbow Lake property to the north of Lac Lawrann leads to no action

1999

A study for renovating the Schmidt barn at Lac Lawrann into a nature center is completed. Estimated costs totaled $440,000.

2001

Friends of Lac Lawrann Conservancy holds the first annual fall “This Old Barn” bluegrass music fundraiser at the Conservancy.

Story Time in the Schools environmental ed program begins.

2003

The West Bend Park, Recreation and Forestry Department makes the Conservancy Naturalist a full-time position.

2006

The 31-acre Rainbow Lake parcel is acquired by the City of West Bend for Lac Lawrann Conservancy in exchange of $490,792 in park fees collected from the Rainbow Lake Condominium development.

Friends of Lac Lawrann decide to preserve the barn as a barn and raise money to build a new 8600 sq. ft. nature center just north of the barn.

2007

Volunteers complete work to renovate the Schmidt farmhouse into a volunteer center with a modern toilet, small kitchen, restored front porch and entrance, and electric heat.

Barn renovations and repairs are completed at a cost of $120,000. A $60,000 Sunrise Rotary Foundation grant was received to support the project.

2009

Two new education programs, an evening lecture series and a 6th grade science program, are implemented in conjunction with Riveredge Nature Center.

2010

A conceptual design is approved for an educational building that will accommodate 75 people and would have restrooms that opened from outside as well as inside the building. A $250.000 Knowles-Nelson Stewardship DNR grant in support of the proposed Learning Center is subsequently announced

2011

A capital campaign kicks off and funding for The Learning Center are sought primarily through foundation grants and individual donations

2012

Learning Center construction begins as fundraising continues.

2014

In August 2014, the building was officially named Maurin Center in recognition of Lawrence and Ann Maurin, founders of Lac Lawrann Conservancy.

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November 2022
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