THE HISTORY OF PAOLI

Image from the Wisconsin Hitorical Society of the Paoli Grade School Class, February 1951

In the beginning...

 

Peter Matts first purchased land in what is now known as Paoli in 1846. His first building was a sawmill in 1847. He platted the growing village in 1856 and named it Paoli after a town near his Pennsylvania birthplace. Peter Matts worked on the first capital building in Madison and also served 2 terms as the sheriff of Dane County. The one room schoolhouse was built in 1854. A second room was added around the turn of the century. It was last used in 1972 by the Belleville School District.

By the mid-1870’s, Paoli boasted a bustling gristmill, a cheese factory, two hotels, a couple of churches, a school, a saloon, a dance hall, a doctor and several tradesmen. A stroll through this historic Sugar River town takes you past stone buildings constructed before the Civil War and into shops offering work by contemporary artisans.

An old photo of the classroom at the Paoli Schoolhouse

From the Wisconsin Historical Society, a 1979 survey photo of what is now Paoli Mill Park Gallery

Currently under restoration is Fischer Hall, located on Range Trail, which was built in the 1950's and housed square dances, political meetings, village gatherings, and the local post office until the early 1900's. 

Paoli may be updated and restored with shops, galleries, and places to eat, but it still retains it's historical beauty from a time long passed.

People gathered in Paoli

The Paoli House's present exterior