New Historical Marker Celebrates the History of the Ryan Business Park Site
Anyone traveling near the corner of 13th Street and Ryan Road in Oak Creek will no doubt notice the huge Amazon Fulfillment Center building that is the centerpiece of the new Ryan Business Park. Closer inspection will also reveal a recently erected historical marker that documents the history of the site.
As Mike Faber of Capstone Quadrangle Company developed the business park, he had a strong sense of the history of the property and the past landowners. From the beginning, he planned to build a small historical monument “pocket park” within the business park. That pocket park and monument can be seen on the west side of Bartel Court, a new north-south street east of 13th Street and south of Ryan Road.
The historical marker includes the following history:
Amidst murky history, best evidence indicates that Ryan Road was named after Patrick Ryan (1849-1914) and his brother Richard, immigrants from Ireland in 1862. In 1887, they purchased adjoining properties at the northwest corner of the intersection of where today’s Ryan Road and Chicago Road intersect, and Patrick Ryan’s home still stands in 2020. At least one source claimed that Ryan Road was the first paved road in Wisconsin.
In May 1872, the Wisconsin Union Railroad built a single north-south line with a stop called Oakwood Station just west of the settlement of Oakwood Village. This rail line crossed the south branch of the Oak Creek in the exact spot where today the bridge of Bartel Court crosses the creek. In 1906, the original track was abandoned and relocated 950 feet east to its present location for purposes of straightness and increased to a double track. During the 2019 construction of the Bartel Court bridge, the original quarried blocks of limestone (which had served as the railroad bridge abutments) were excavated and salvaged. These blocks were repurposed to commemorate this history, which you see around you in this historical monument park and are also used as functional outcroppings along the creek, slowing the speed of water in flood conditions.
The eastern half of the business park, originally owned by A. Guenther, was purchased in 1928 by Ray Bartel (1896 -1986) who supported his family exclusively by farming. Bartel farmed through the Great Depression until around 1973 when he began leasing portions to other growers. Bartel Court is named in his honor.
The western half of the business park was purchased in 1920 and farmed by Arthur Tischendorf (1891–1967) and his descendants, including his son Roland, who perished in a house fire on the property in 2003 on his 82nd birthday. The family grew crops and raised livestock and their barn had a milking parlor. In addition, beginning in 1867, Arthur’s emigrant grandfather Franz (from Saxony, Germany), father August and brother, Harry, all farmed various nearby parcels in what is now the City of Oak Creek.
Research for the monument was contributed by Dennis Tischendorf, Chuck Koehler and the Oak Creek Historical Society