Welcome to Downsville. Quiet, just around eight miles South of good ol’ Menom and, the epitome of rural life. Originally from a larger city myself, I can completely understand how living in a smaller town like Menomonie can induce some growing pains and result in a stir crazy flight plans. However, burning the gas and money to splurge on a weekend in the Twin Cities may not be the answer to your anxious ailment. Sometimes a small change of scenery for a few hours can be just what the doctor ordered.
Before you shrug off my suggestion for naive optimism, I can tell you that I’ve spent an entire morning there and was perfectly entertained and refreshed.
This is the Downsville Coffee House. Humble in appearance, but its worth the trip alone.
This coffee house has shakes, malts, the standard coffee drinks, pies and cookies, as well as a full menu of sandwiches. On our visit one early August morning, we were greeted kindly by the charismatic artist and co-owner, Alan Yahnke, who explained the history of the shop and showed us some old pictures of it when it was a general shop.
The studio building was erected in about 1856 as a warehouse. The main building was the Knapp Stout Lumber Company company store originally, erected in about 1873. It was a general store for about 100 years. Inside there is a sliding ladder which goes along one wall. It was and is used to get at stuff on shelves. There is also a walk in safe with 18 inch thick walls and massive steel doors with hand painted decorations and a combination lock. –Alan Yahnke
The ladder is still fully functioning and is located on the left as you walk in. The safe door is also visible and I’m sure if you would ask Alan would be more than happy to let you see it up close.
I got a coffee and this gorgeous croissant creation and it ultimately only cost me around $6. Pretty decent considering how delicious it was.
Decorated with old artifacts and antiques, the shop is brimming with historic culture and unforgettable character. Alan’s artwork also lines the walls if you’re ever in the market for a painting or two.
This shop would also be the perfect destination for a rainy day get-away with its stack of board games, enormous checker board, and stacks of forgotten National Geographic magazines that call to be thumbed through once again.
Alan is also a collector of around 65 cameras! If you have any interest in photography at all, you could seriously talk to this man for hours. He brought out some antiques ones for us to admire.
After our coffee house stop, we meandered through town and into this grocery stop (which apparently has amazing shakes).
There is also the Empire in Pine Museum right down the road form the coffee house. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stop in but its open Saturday and Sunday from noon-5PM until Labor Day. Admission is only $2.
There are also some cool buildings surrounding the museum, such as a shed-looking thing made from iron bars (I’m assuming some kind of old prison cell) and an old post office to the right. On the left side of the building, there are old train tracks and some other artifacts from Downsville’s glory days.
If anything, Downsville’s picturesque rural roads and big shady trees are the ideal settings for a photoshoot 🙂
If you continue down the road, right by where The Creamery used to be, there is an old barn covered in ivy that will inevitably catch your eye. Don’t hesitate to park the car (or your bike), and head on in. Its Dunn County Pottery.
Also, take time to admire the gardens surrounding the shop.
Now, I’m pretty sure you’re willing to at least go check this tiny town out at least once. If you’re down for the adventure (forgive the punn), hop in your car and take 25 out of town South (Broadway turns into 25) and take a left on County Road C. It will take you a grand total of 13 minutes.
However, if you’re still skeptical and can’t justify spending the gas money, or just feeling ambitious, hop on your bike when you have an hour or so and just follow the Red Cedar Trail there. Its about 8 miles away if you start from in front of the Applied Arts Building. Here’s some directions and a map.
That way, if worst comes to absolute worst and you loath Downsville, then atleast you got some exercise out of it. However, I doubt that will be the outcome.