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The Inside Scoop: Wauwatosa Historical Society & Prosit Tosa

Exterior of Kneeland-Walker House in Wauwatosa

Whether you’re here for (Wauwatosa’s version of) Oktoberfest content or you’re looking for tips to plan your next Tosa trip from a Milwaukee-area local, we have just the interview for you!

With the annual Prosit Tosa quickly approaching, we chatted with Wauwatosa Historical Society’s Executive Director, Amy Gnadt to learn more about this can’t-miss Oktoberfest-esque event. Plus, we couldn’t resist asking about her favorite Wauwatosa cocktails, beautiful parks, and delicious restaurants for you to bookmark for your next visit.

Exterior of Kneeland-Walker House in Wauwatosa

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What do you like most about your job as the executive director at the Wauwatosa Historical Society?

[Amy]: “What I like the best is actually the history part [of the job]. I’m a historian, former archivist, and former museum curator. So, what I really like about the job is the opportunity to learn about the city from the collection. 

For example, when looking through old photographs of Wauwatosa, we can see what it used to look like compared to what it looks like now. So, when the Kneeland-Walker House was built in 1890, this area, which is now the Old Hillcrest Neighborhood, was the country, so there was nothing else here. Comparing pictures to today where there are now lots of houses and lots of new development is just really interesting to examine the changes in the buildings and landscape.”

The Little Red Store in The Village, Wauwatosa

[Discover Wauwatosa]: Of the landmarks that Wauwatosa Historical Society preserves, do you have a favorite? If so, why?

[Amy]: “We’re in charge of two separate properties. One is the Kneeland-Walker House and the other is The Little Red Store, a little building in The Village across from the parking lot where the Farmer’s Market is held. People have probably been by it, maybe you don’t really notice it. 

The Kneeland-Walker House of course is really beautiful, but the Little Red Store is pretty interesting. It’s the oldest commercial building in Wauwatosa and was built in 1854. Over the years it’s been many, many different kinds of businesses, including a harness shop and a doctor’s office. The Little Red Store has seen a lot! 

Today, it’s a space that people can rent for parties, meetings, or a pop-up shop — whatever they want to do. It’s technically owned by the city, but maintained by the Historical Society.”

[Discover Wauwatosa]: Give us the inside scoop on Prosit Tosa — What is it? What makes it a yearly staple?

[Amy]: “Well, we know that Wisconsin loves an Oktoberfest and a beer garden — they’re everywhere! So, [Prosit Tosa] is to take part in that tradition and part of that ancestry here in this part of the state. This is [Prosit Tosa’s] fourth year and we have a lot of fun stuff planned. Of course, there will be beer, different entertainment, contests, and activities.

I think what makes it popular is that we’re accessible from every direction, it’s family-friendly, it’s fun, and it supports a good, local cause of raising money for the Historical Society.”

 

[Discover Wauwatosa]: Is there one thing in particular that you’re most excited about for Prosit Tosa?

[Amy]: “I would say the music! German music is always really festive.”

 

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What’s your favorite event at WHS?

[Amy]: “Definitely Christmas. Christmas time at the house is really beautiful. We have a whole set of volunteers who work really hard for a couple of weeks. They get all the decorations out and put everything up, and it’s really very sparkly and a very beautiful time of year.

We’ll be holding our annual holiday open house on the first weekend of December so people can come and see [the Kneeland-Walker House]. This year, we’re hoping to add a couple of elements to that event — I’d love to get some student musicians in here to play some Christmas tunes. Once you get the musicians in the music room downstairs, it sounds so good.”

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What would you recommend to someone visiting Wauwatosa for the very first time?

[Amy]: “I would recommend that they take a walk through The Village. There are a lot of shops, restaurants, and things to see down there. There’s cool architecture — some buildings that are newer and some that have been there a long time. 

Particularly, the building that Ristorante Bartolotta’s is in now is a really historic building that was Pabst Tide House, which was a saloon/tavern many years ago. I would maybe get a snack along the way and then head to the parks — Hart Park or Hoyt Park — to enjoy the scenery there.” 

 

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What do you like most about the City of Wauwatosa?

[Amy]: “The people — the people always make the place. People here are really into Wauwatosa — they’re really into its history and its future. They’re very invested in things that go on. It’s definitely something that I’ve noticed.”

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What are your favorite restaurants in Wauwatosa?

[Amy]: “I love Kin by Rice N Roll in The Village — dine-in, and take-out. I also like Pizza Man in The Mayfair Collection. Then, my staff also recommended Cuppa Tosa and Il Mito Trattotoria E Enoteca.”

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What’s your go-to spot for wine, beer, coffee, and cocktails?

[Amy]: “So, I’m not much of a wine drinker, but if I was looking for wine, I’d go to The Ruby Tap. It’s a really nice spot with a nice porch along North Wauwatosa Ave. 

For beer, I’d go to Walters on North.

 For coffee, I like Colectivo Coffee, but I like it as much for the breakfast sandwiches as I do for the coffee. They do a good ham, cheese, and egg croissant that I’m a big fan of. 

For a cocktail, it’s gotta be an Old Fashioned at Camp Bar.”

Leafy walking trail at Jacobus Park in Wauwatosa

[Discover Wauwatosa]: What’s your favorite place (non-food or drink related) in Wauwatosa?

[Amy]: “The parks, for sure. Jacobus Park has really great trails. Hoyt and Hart are pretty close together and you could even go from one to the other. They’re great for walking, biking, and playing.”

Discover Wauwatosa wants 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 the coronavirus pandemic, please check the local hotel and travel restrictions and retail and restaurant hours/menus before you go.