Franklin celebrates 60th anniversary

June 29, 2016

Franklin — Almost exactly 60 years ago, Franklin officials were hiding in barns, marking the beginning of Franklin's process to become a city.

In June 1956, the city of Milwaukee filed a petition to annex Franklin, which the people of the town wanted to avoid. In an attempt to evade this fate, town officials went into hiding so that they could avoid being served papers. If the papers were not delivered within a certain span of time, then Milwaukee could not continue the process of annexation.

Franklin won the game of hide-and-seek, and soon after, officials headed off to Madison to make Franklin an incorporated city.

Six decades later, Franklin celebrated its 60th anniversary during the civic celebration Fourth of July weekend.

As a part of the celebration, four of the city's former mayors — Tom Taylor, Pat Murray, Fred Klimetz, and Mark Miazga — rode on a float in the 4th of July Parade, and July 2 the city had an additional fireworks show at dusk in honor of the city's anniversary.

"In 60 years, a lot has changed," said alderman Steve Taylor. "It's important that we celebrate our past and our future."

Over the span of six decades, Franklin has evolved from a farming community into a full-fledged city, according to Judy Scherrer, lifetime resident of the city and author of "Footsteps of Franklin."

Even when the city was officially established, Scherrer explained, Franklin lacked many of the elements of a modern-day city, but they had a variety of farms and farming supply stores. However, by the end of the 1960s, Franklin had a high school, a country club, and many other marks of a city.

Since Franklin's establishment, "every year evolved with new things being added to it," Scherrer said.

The Hales Corners Speedway, actually located in Franklin, turned into a Menards. Many old community buildings — and a historic outhouse — have moved from their original location to the Franklin Historical Park. Tom Godsell, often called the "Founding Father of Franklin," passed away and was immortalized in a street name.

The first fire truck that was purchased for Franklin's fire department, through the work of Godsell, has also been retired from the official fleet. However, it also in the city's parade July 4.

Even though Franklin has come a long way, Scherrer says that it still maintains a balance of city and country.

"I just think Franklin is sort of a unique city," she said. "I've never left because I like living here."

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