Wauwatosa Historical Society’s Executive Director, Alissa Weber, found her home here in Wauwatosa by fully embracing the community and all it has to offer.
Not planning on staying in Wauwatosa for long, her family of four moved here about 10 years ago and has yet to leave the “small-town feeling inside of a big city” that Tosa and its five dynamic districts provide. “They sucked us in — we got here, and it’s exactly where we wanted to raise the kids.”
Alissa’s compassion for the community and genuine love for the history of just about everything you pass in Tosa brought her to the Historical Society three years ago. To help plan your next trip, she shares her favorite outdoor walking tours, awesome places to eat outdoors, and more — so you can explore our city for yourself!
Get to know Alissa and her role at the historical society!
Alissa’s role as the Executive Director has her very involved in the community and the school district. They typically participate in multiple events each year from their Prosit Tosa event to Firefly Art Fair, the longest standing fair in the area. This year’s Prosit Tosa event shifted to a drive-thru format for the safety and health of volunteers, attendees, and staff, which included live music and local beverage (beer, wine and root beer!) pick-up from The Little Red Store.
She also highlighted the Judith A. Simonsen Research Library where volunteer researchers use the library’s historical photographs, reference materials and documents from Tosa families, schools, churches, and businesses to answer inquiries about Wauwatosa’s history. “It’s a great organization and recognizes that history is still here.”
Of the landmarks that Wauwatosa Historical Society preserves, do you have a favorite?
“We are in charge of two historical properties: The Kneeland-Walker House, built in 1890, is where the Historical Society is housed and is the finest example of Queen Anne Architecture. It has the largest acreage in Tosa and the gardeners make it look dreamy. We host outdoor workout classes here and safe weddings on the grounds. Built in 1854, we also have The Little Red Store, one of the oldest properties in Tosa. We took it on when it was heading into disrepair.”
We absolutely love the 2020 Walking Tour Series — Which tour would you recommend to someone visiting Tosa for the first time?
“Start with The Village Walking Tour from their 2020 Walking Tour Series. The Village is packed with so much history and so much life. It’s interesting for people who live in Tosa because you don’t realize how much history you’re walking past.”
An added bonus to Tosa Village, she points out that “the Village is jam-packed with so many great restaurants and boutiques; so dreamy with all the lights we have hanging and so cool for any age.”
If someone stopped you on the street or emailed you and asked you for information on where to stay, what to do, where to eat, what not to miss, etc., when visiting Wauwatosa, what would you recommend?
“Loaded question! Right now, if someone came up to me [and asked what to do]: Cafe Hollander and Buckatabon with the great igloos, Jose’s for great drinks, Le Reve is wonderful, nice drink on the patio at Leff’s, and Hector’s is down there on [W State St], too!”
During the most wonderful time of year in Wauwatosa, Alissa shared, “in the Village every year, there’s the lighting of the tree that kind of announces the holiday. Kids from area schools sing and carol, shops have deals and people walk around with their hot chocolate, and the holiday train comes through just two steps away from the Little Red Store. This is a huge tradition for [the Wauwatosa Historical Society] and The Little Red Store to get the community to see this historical stop.”
“A week later is our holiday open house [at Kneeland-Walker House] where there are tours, live music, decorations in every room, horse carriage on-site, hot chocolate, and Santa.”
While this year is a bit different, you can still feel the holiday spirit when walking by the Kneeland-Walker House to admire the trees all lit up and glowing candles in the window.
What is/are your personal favorite restaurant(s) in or around Wauwatosa?
“Shout out to Miss Molly’s Cafe [in Milwaukee] because, during quarantine, they’ve been doing dinner meal kits and donating meals back to the community. This beautiful, fun, business is owned by Tosa-resident, Molly. They’re keeping the community really strong during this pandemic, and I could go there for any meal — for coffee or dinner.”
What’s your go-to spot for each of the following:
Wine: “Ruby Tap in Tosa is a local, family-owned business. Brooke, the owner, can get you anything you need.”
Tosa Tip: You can also take home their 12 Days of Bubbles Gift Box, which includes 12 sparkling wine splits all wrapped and numbered. Enjoy this at-home wine tasting with their curbside pick-up!
Beer: “We usually go to Cafe Hollander. If we’re going out for a drink — there’s a wide selection to choose from.”
Tosa Tip: Enjoy outdoor, heated dining with Cafe Hollander’s private huts this year!
Coffee: “Love Colectivo Coffee! They’ve been a great partner [with Wauwatosa Historical Society], and have my favorite lavender latte. I also love Stone Creek Coffee in the Village — they also have my lavender latte.”
Tosa Tip: Scoop up their delicious hot drinks and tasty treats to-go to bring the taste of Tosa home with you!
Cocktail: “Camp Bar on North Avenue makes a really good old fashioned.”
Tosa Tip: Their outdoor patio is completely decked out in holiday lights for the season!
Lastly, Brewers or Bucks?
“This is tough. My son is a huge baseball/Brewers fan, and my daughter loves the Bucks. Although, we’re so happy that Giannis has re-signed, so have to go Bucks!”
Discover Wauwatosa and the WI Department of Tourism want to ensure you have a safe and healthy travel experience. Learn more about where to stay, where to eat, and things to do while you’re here in Wauwatosa.
Due to COVID-19, the hours of operation may vary for locations and businesses mentioned. We recommend calling for the most up-to-date information.
Header photo courtesy of Wauwatosa Historical Society