PORT WASHINGTON’S HISTORY AT A GLANCE
- Wooster Harrison led the first settlers to Port Washington in 1835. The town was then laid out at the mouth of Sauk Creek and was initially named Wisconsin City. It was then changed to Washington City and eventually renamed Port Washington by George C. Daniels in 1844 in honor of George Washington.
- Harrison only stayed in Port Washington for two years after he arrived. In 1837, he left the area following the death of his wife, Rhoda. It took Harrison six years to return to Port Washington with more settlers. In 1846, the town of Port Washington was officially created. In 1882, it was incorporated as a city.
- Before Harrison and his men settled in the area, Port Washington was home to the native Menomonee, Pottawatomi, Sac, and Fox tribes of the Algonquin nation. At the time, dense hardwood and evergreen trees covered the rolling hills, and the water from the river threaded its way to Lake Michigan.
- Port Washington’s development was largely influenced by the Great Lakes. Even in its early days, it was already a commercial hub, where different goods were received or transported. This eventually led to the construction of the Port Washington Harbor by the U.S. Federal Government in 1871.
- The city was a commercial fishing port until the mid-20th century. According to historical records, Sam Curray and Frank Delles were the first commercial fishermen in Port Washington. Throughout the city, one can find several memorials and markers that pay tribute to Port Washington’s commercial fishing heritage.
WELCOMING & SUPPORTIVE BUSINESS CLIMATE
Business owners and entrepreneurs looking for their next business opportunity will find plenty of avenues to explore in Port Washington. There are several organizations that help foster a supportive business community in the city, including Port Washington Main Street.
While the city’s early economy was heavily based on harvesting and shipping natural resources, Port Washington’s specialties have evolved along with the population. Over time, Port Washington became increasingly industrial, and manufacturing companies emerged as the area’s top employers, with the Wisconsin Chair Company being one of the biggest. Other companies with bases in Port Washington include Allen Edmonds, Franklin Energy, and Kleen Test Products.
EXCELLENT SCHOOLING OPTIONS
Port Washington is home to several highly-rated public schools, all managed by Port Washington-Saukville School District (PWSSD). The district serves a student population of approximately 2,526 students with a student-to-teacher ratio of roughly 14 to 1. PWWD schools offer a comprehensive curriculum, extracurricular programs, and educational activities.
Top-rated K-12 schools in Port Washington include:
- Lincoln Elementary School
- Dunwiddie Elementary School
- Thomas Jefferson Middle School
- Port Washington High School
There are also private and charter schools in the city for those looking for private education. St. John XXIII Catholic School is available for students K-8.
HOMES FOR SALE IN PORT WASHINGTON, WI
Because of the unique combination of New England charm and Midwestern friendliness, many are looking at Port Washington as their next home. Just as well—homes for sale in Port Washington, WI, come in almost all shapes, sizes, and styles, from classic bungalows to larger, more expansive estates. For those with a very specific design in mind or who would prefer to build their dream home from the ground up, land for sale is also available in Port Washington.
Whether you are looking for a small and modest home or something grander and sprawling, there are perfect homes for sale in Port Washington, WI, for every type of homeowner, including affordable options for starter homes and larger houses with more rooms for bigger families. Single-family residences can start in the $200,000s range, while a 2-acre lot can fetch for around $60,000. Meanwhile, home values in Port Washington average at around $288,000.
The architectural styles you’ll see in the area include Colonial, Cape Cod, Ranch, and Contemporary, to name a few. Design styles may vary, but many homes are built with the same relaxed vibe, open spaces, and comfort in mind. Many homes are also constructed as a nod to the city’s cultural heritage.
Most of the housing stock in Port Washington are single-family homes, followed by apartments by a wide margin. As for the age, a large portion of residential real estate was built between the 1940s and the 1990s. That said, a sizable part of the market is occupied by new construction.
Some of the characteristics of homes for sale in Port Washington, WI include the following:
- High ceilings
- Large open-air rooms with firing places
- Beautiful picturesque windows
- Lush and sprawling lawns
- Elegant kitchens with granite countertops
- Functional bedroom designs
- Extra rooms for work or recreation
- Driveways and spacious garages
- Storage space
Many homes for sale in Port Washington, WI are ideally situated near the city center with views of the lake in the distance. But if you prefer to live closer to the water, many stunning waterfront homes are also available. In these properties, you can enjoy gorgeous views of the lake, the relaxing sound of the water outside the windows, and the option to go for a shoreline walk anytime you wish.
Waterfront homes are designed to allow homeowners to enjoy the majesty of the serene setting. They often have large floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy panoramic views and spacious balconies to sit on and watch the horizon. Wrap-around screened-in porches are also a signature for waterfront homes and are perfect for rocking chairs and relaxing. At the same time, several also have covered patios perfect for entertaining and having friends and family over.
LIVING IN PORT WASHINGTON, WI
Life in Port Washington is characterized by constant, peaceful views of Lake Michigan, relaxing days spent right on the lake, browsing and shopping for local goods, and celebrating the city’s rich heritage. Learn more about the local lifestyle and what to expect in Port Washington below.
Cost of Living
Generally, Port Washington is an affordable place to live. The overall cost of living is 3% lower than the national average, although this may vary depending on where you live and your career and salary.
Home prices in the area are typically below the median compared to residential home markets across the country. Housing expenses in Port Washington, WI, are 6% lower than the national average with gas and transportation roughly 6% below the national average.
Also known as the 1860 Light Station, the Port Washington Light was first constructed in 1845 then rebuilt in 1845. At one point, it was a private dwelling until the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg helped restore the site. Today, it functions as a museum. Climb to the lantern room for gorgeous views of Lake Michigan.
This museum is a restored home from 1872. Once the family home of Judge Leopold Eghart, it now gives visitors a glimpse into Victorian life in late-19th century Port Washington. The preserved home features a unique collection of furniture and home accessories donated by local families.
ARTS, CULTURE, AND FESTIVALS
The Memories Ballroom is one of the go-to spots in Port Washington for live music entertainment and special events. But it also boasts a long history that dates back to the 1930s, when it first opened its doors as a dance hall. Apart from being a choice venue, Memories Ballroom hosts dinner theaters, “Chicken Comedy” nights featuring famous stand-up comedy acts, and interactive murder mysteries.
The Maritime Heritage Festival
Held every summer, Port Washington’s Maritime Heritage Festival is a celebration of the city’s rich history. A wide variety of water vessels are on display during the event, from antique boats to harbor cruises. The Maritime Heritage Festival also features a marketplace where visitors can purchase locally made goods and food, as well as live music entertainment.
Great Lakes Sport Fishing Derby
This sport fishing competition is organized by the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen (GLSF) club and takes place every July for excellent salmon and trout fishing. You can learn more about the event, as well as join the club if you are a sport fishing enthusiast, here.
Another local organization, Port Washington Lions Club, also hosts its own fishing tournament.
Shopping and Dining
You can shop a wide variety of boutiques selling everything from antiques to clothing to specialty food, household items, and accessories at this local favorite. This is also one of the best places in Port Washington to purchase goods by local artisans, crystals, aromatherapy, and natural products.
You can also visit Shoppes of Port Washington for a wide range of unique knick knacks, antiques, and fun finds. And if you walk further down the street, you’ll come across artisanal skincare products, sweet shops, and various thrift and retail stores.
This beautiful brick restaurant offers comfort food and stunning views of the lakeside and harbor. Alongside delicious food and healthy dining options, Fork & Tap also serves a selection of craft beer made by local breweries. You can enjoy your meal inside the restaurant or al fresco with friends to take in the views along with your food and drinks.
Twisted Willow offers a different take on American cuisine using farm-fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients— a showcase of what Port Washington’s farmers, growers, and fishermen have to offer. Reserve a table indoor or out on the patio for elegant outdoor dining.
This local bakeshop makes baked goods from scratch using natural ingredients and no artificial additives. Their offerings include hand-shaped bread, cookies, pastries, sandwiches, and more. Products are made by hand and freshly baked daily in small batches. You can take your pick from a wide selection if you come early. Plus, the kitchen has a fantastic open design allowing guests to see the bakers doing their work.
Water Sports and Activities
Shipwreck scuba diving
For the more adventurous water explorers, you can even enjoy shipwreck scuba diving in Lake Michigan. As a former major commercial and transport hub, many ships went down in Lake Michigan during storms and natural disasters, leaving interesting and preserved wrecks that are still there to explore today. In fact, there are about 3,000 wrecks resting at the bottom of Lake Michigan.
May through November are the best months to go wreck diving in Lake Michigan, when water temperatures average between 60 to 70F. If you want to go shipwreck scuba diving off-season, wearing a wetsuit is highly recommended to withstand the frigid waters. Aquatic Adventures in Milwaukee offers trips and charters. But for local expertise, Deep Six Scuba can show you the best wrecks near Port Washington’s shoreline.
Fishing and sport fishing
Waters off the Port Washington coast get deep fast. That means better fishing prospects for both beginners and seasoned enthusiasts. Trout and salmon are available all year round. Moreover, plenty of fishing charters in the city revolve around these two species.
If you’re into sport fishing, however, Lake Michigan offers big rewards. From spring until late fall, you can catch coho salmon, which are delicious but also tough to catch. Chinook salmon, which is highly priced throughout the Great Lakes region, can grow up to 30 pounds. Summer is the best time to catch these giants, but they are available until November.
Rainbow trout, also known as steelhead, is plentiful in Lake Michigan from late spring until October. Naturally aggressive, it’s best to use live bait to reel a few in. You can catch lake trout throughout the year, but as the seasons progress, they move to deeper waters. On the other hand, brown trout, which is also available all year round, are found in shallower areas. Since they are easily spooked, it is best to fish for brown trout from the shore or quieter boats.
Take note, however, that Wisconsin fishing licenses are required in the state. This can be processed online or from an accredited vendor just in time for your fishing charter. Stamps are also required if you will be fishing salmon and trout. If you have neither, you can catch fish in Lake Michigan only during the third weekend of January or the first weekend of June. To learn more about fishing regulations in Wisconsin, click here.
Port Washington has 29 public parks and outdoor recreational spaces scattered throughout the city. They include Possibility Playground, Coal Dock Park, Port Washington South Beach Park, and Veterans Memorial Park Bandshell & Greens.
For hiking and bird watching, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail has 30 miles of paved outdoor trails connecting Port Washington and the other communities in Ozaukee County. The trail was opened in 1908 and travels through woodlands, farmlands, wetlands, and waterways. Jogging, running, biking, and skating are allowed.
Ozaukee County is home to thousands of acres of parkland, nature preserves, and more. Treasures of Oz is a fantastic resource for outdoor spaces in the county.
FIND YOUR HOME IN PORT WASHINGTON, WI
With so many delightful options in this beautiful lakeside town, it’s no wonder that more and more people are looking for homes for sale in Port Washington, WI. It’s the perfect place to live if you enjoy small-town living and access to outdoor recreation.
Are you ready to start searching for your dream home in Port Washington? Emmer Real Estate Group is here to help you. We are your link to Port Washington, WI real estate, with several years of experience assisting home buyers and sellers in the area.