The name Janesville may not resonate as a city like other major cities, but the 34.45 square miles it occupies is chock full of historical and sociopolitical significance. A full 20% of historical sites in Wisconsin is found in Janesville. The largest city in Rock County, it was originally the home of Native American tribes before they were forced out in the 1830s to make way for American settlers.
The first to arrive in 1835 were the four original wards: John Inman, George Follmer, Joshua Holmes, and William Holmes, Jr. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of city planner Henry Janes from Virginia later that year that the city was founded. Janes wanted to name it Blackhawk after Chief Black Hawk, a Sauk leader, but was turned down. Despite being founded by a Southerner, the majority of settlers were Yankees from New England and New York, most notably William Tallman, who would later become one of the richest and most influential people in the city.
People that settled in Janesville were quite progressive. Many were abolitionists and advocates of women’s rights, and when German immigrants started to arrive in the 1880s, they were met with open arms. This encouraged more of them to come to Janesville. Today, the biggest single group by ancestry is German at 32% of the total population.
The rich soil of the area on either side of the Rock River encouraged the cultivation of farm crops and the development of parkland, of which the city currently has 64, thus earning the moniker “Wisconsin’s Park Place.” During the Civil War, Janesville farmers was a major grain supplier for the Union Army.
However, agriculture is only one side of Janesville. The city is the site of several industries, including what was once the oldest General Motors Assembly plant in the US until it was closed down in 2008. It is also where the Parker Pen Company was founded by Janesville native George Parker in 1888. The company was one of Janesville’s biggest employers for 70 years and the world’s biggest writing instrument factory until it ceased operations in Janesville in the 1987 when it was bought by Gillette, and the plant was moved to England. Prior to that, Parker acquired human resource company Manpower, which in 1982 founded automobile sensor manufacturing company Sintered Specialties Inc., (now SSI Technologies Inc.) which it later sold to David Baum. SSI developed the Anti-Lock Brake Sensor or ABS safety system for automobiles in 1985.The company remains headquartered in Janesville today despite having been sold to Bourns, Inc. in 2006.
Things to Do Around Janesville
As one would expect, Janesville with its system of 64 parks over more than 10 square miles (nearly one-third of the city’s total area) is a haven for nature lovers. Aside from the usual accoutrements, the parks also feature trails, boat launches, and golf courses. The world-renowned water ski team Rock Aqua Jays call Traxler Park home, which is also where the city’s Fourth of July celebrations are held every year. Palmer Park boasts not only a 9-hole golf course but CAMDEN Playground, said to be the largest and most accessible playground in the world.
Mix and Match
The clients recently bought a 900 sq-ft ranch-style hillside country home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms with 1.4 acres of open land. The house had been built in the 1980s, and originally had popcorn ceilings and ceramic tile floors that did not really go with the style of the home. The owners had already done a lot of remodeling, and wanted a quote for the replacement of existing ceramic tile kitchen countertops and backsplashes, and the counter for the recently-added kitchen island, half of was butcher block.
It was an interesting project. The kitchen and dining room was on the second floor of the home with an open floor layout. The wall colors were peach, the low ceiling white, and the clients had elected to put down dark hardwood floors, but chose beech cabinets for the kitchen. The challenge was to advise the client on the best stones to choose for the kitchen counters that would tie in all the colors. We did the measurements, and invited the clients to our showroom to look over the slabs.
The clients wanted marble for their kitchen island because they did a lot of home baking, and chose a White Carrara to partner with the butcher block. However, they had no ideas on the stone or color for the kitchen countertops and backsplash. We showed them our selection of Earth tone granites, and they liked the look of the Coffee Wave Brushed. However, since they had a low ceiling, dark countertops would make the kitchen look too dark. suggested the Mascarello Gold. It had shots of black, brown, white and yellow that would tie in the different colors in the kitchen and still light enough to blend in with the walls and cabinets. They discussed it at length and finally decided to go with Mascarello Gold countertops with a full backsplash and new Artisan 16-gauge Single Bowl sink. We gave them an estimate, and after a bit of haggling, agreed on a project cost upon which they paid a 50% deposit. We promised to send the workers the next day to take out the existing counters and sink, make the templates and prepare the support for the new countertops and sink.
Preparing for installation
Demolition was relatively simple as the ceramic countertops had been laid on a mesh and came out more or less in one piece. The backsplashes took a little longer and made a bit of a mess. The fabricator made the templates and left to let the workers complete the prep work. In the meantime, the stones were sent down to the workshop for cutting. The prep work took three days in total, at the end of which the coast was clear for installation.
Installing the stones
We delivered all the stones the next day, and the marble went in first. It was quick work. The granite countertops and backsplashes went in next. The backsplash was a bit tricky because it was in four pieces that had to be joined seamlessly at a vertical angle and clamped into place. We pulled it off in the end, no worries. By the end of the week, the project had been delivered, sealed, and signed.
We had some misgivings about tying in the colors with the Mascarello Gold, but it turned out just as we had hoped it would. The clients were amazed at how well it turned out, and agreed the lighter tones of the granite was perfect for their kitchen. The marble half of the island also looked fantastic against the dark, almost black butcher block, creating a type of yin and yang centerpiece.
Wisconsin Granite Always Delivers
We pride ourselves in giving top-notch service and products to our clients. We carry a wide range of hand-picked natural stones found nowhere else in Wisconsin, and partner with some of the best engineered quartz companies in the US. If you want quality, we are just a click away. Ask for a free estimate, and we’ll be there.