Delafield derives its distinctive character from the land on which it was built. Glacial forces laid the groundwork for its gorgeous landscape, forming the gentle hills, sparkling lakes, and clear river streams that continue to captivate visitors to this day. It was this same stunning backdrop that drew Native American fishing and hunting camps as well as European settlers to the area. By the mid-19th century, herds of sheep could be found grazing the hills. Grist and sawmills began to appear along the streams as more settlers discovered its quiet beauty.
This little settlement, once populated by just a handful of farmers and merchants, is now a thriving community of more than seven thousand residents.
A PLACE IN HISTORY - 1837
Delafield was established among the gently rolling hills of
western Waukesha County on the cusp of the Ice Age Trail
and the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
1843 The Naming of Delafield
Early documents show the name as “Hayopolis,”
which was shortly changed to the Indian name,
“Nemahbin. ” It was in 1843 that the name was
changed to “Delafield” in honor of early settler,
Charles Delafield of Milwaukee.
1851 Church Erected
St. John’s Chrysostom Church, or “Little Red Church on the Hill,”
was erected in Gothic Revival architecture. In 1972,
the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1863 Cushing & the Civil War
At the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War in 1863, Delafield native First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing fell at the young age of 22. On Memorial Day in 1915, Cushing Memorial Park was dedicated and a monument erected to honor Alonzo as well as his two heroic brothers, William and Howard Cushing.
1841 Nashotah House
A seminary of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion of Churches is established, becoming Wisconsin’s oldest degree-granting institution.
1846 Hawks Inn
In 1846, Nelson Hawks settled in Delafield and built
Hawks Inn, a bustling stagecoach inn and city center.
Hawks Inn became one of the most popular
stops for travelers between Waukesha and Madison.
1848 Part of the Union
Wisconsin became the 30th state on May 29, 1848.
1870 Lapham Peak
Lapham Peak, the highest point in Waukesha County,
was named after Increase A. Lapham.
Lapham spent extensive time atop the
tower to record local weather observations,
which he then relayed to the U.S. Weather Bureau in Chicago.
1884 St. John’s Military Academy
In 1884, the oldest military academy in Wisconsin was founded in Delafield. St. John’s Military Academy first took roots from an old abandoned schoolhouse by Rev. Sidney Smythe. Today, as St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (circa 1995), the school attracts students from all over the world.
1907 The Fish Hatchery
In the early 1900s, Wisconsin had growing concern over the residing fish, particularly largemouth bass and walleye populations. In response, the Wisconsin DNR built the Fish Hatchery Building of native fieldstone, along with six outdoor ponds, to raise and deliver “fingerlings” to lakes throughout Wisconsin. Today, all but two of the ponds survive and the building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1959, the City of Delafield was incorporated.
1988 City Renaissance
Lang Homes begins historic downtown renaissance of the buildings to a historic Colonial Williamsburg architecture style.