History of our Club

historic photos

Celebrating 100 Years of Tosa Curling

Located just west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Wauwatosa Curling Club boasts four sheets of ice, a fun and friendly membership, and some of the best bonspiels in curling. The year 2021 is a big one for the membership, as it marks the 100-year anniversary of the club.

To celebrate this milestone, the club’s board of directors formed a 100th Anniversary Committee tasked with bringing the membership and the Wauwatosa community twelve months of events celebrating curling in Wauwatosa. These festivities, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, will kick off later this summer and continue beyond the end of the 2021-22 curling season.

A Century of History

The Wauwatosa Curling Club played its first game in 1921 in a shed that was part of Stickney Field Club on Stickney Avenue, just south of where Wauwatosa's City Hall stands today. In 1925, the shed was moved to the confines of what is now Hart Park, a 19.5-acre plot of land nestled on the Menomonee River in the Village (now City) of Wauwatosa.

Hart Park, first dubbed City Park in 1921 until it was renamed in 1960, bears the name of Charles Hart, Wauwatosa’s founder. Over the years, the park grew to house a football/soccer field, baseball diamond, field house, tennis courts, a skate park, and nature trails. While the Wauwatosa Curling club took up residence in Hart Park in 1925, indoor curling wouldn’t come to Wauwatosa for another sixteen years.

In 1941, the club adopted its current home, also in Hart Park, in the then newly-constructed Muellner Building.

In the wake of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal employment and infrastructure program which sponsored several public works projects, including the construction of public buildings. The program brought improvements to the park which included stone walls, a new football field with bleachers, parking areas, and finally – with a refrigeration plant supplied by the club – indoor curling in the Muellner Building, the very first artificial indoor curling ice in the state of Wisconsin.

The Hart Park Howard Muellner Building, formerly the Wauwatosa Recreation Building, exists today, as it did in 1941, as a shared-space recreation facility. In addition to the Wauwatosa Curling Club, the Wauwatosa Senior Center, Hart Park staff offices, and city meeting rooms reside in the Muellner Building.

In addition to four sheets of ice, the club enjoys a clubroom and locker room on the lower level of the building. Spectating is possible with the use of a shared-space room on the main level, adjacent to the ice.

Changing Times

For many years, women in Wauwatosa curled as a separate group called the Wauwatosa Granites. A men’s team known as the "Four Trottas" and their wives traveled to the Toronto-based Granite Curling Club, where they witnessed indoor artificial ice and women's curling for the first time. Both indoor ice and women’s curling were introduced to the Wauwatosa club within two years of that trip. The women’s curling group at Wauwatosa adopted the "Granites" name in recognition of the club where they first saw women's curling.

During this time, Wauwatosa became a founding United States Women's Curling Association (USWCA) club and held the very first U.S. women's bonspiel.

The Granites combined with the Wauwatosa Curling Club beginning with the 1989-90 season.

Challenges

The club experienced a near-fatal blow in 1998 from a massive flood – the second of its kind in the greater Milwaukee area in less than two years. Referred to by club members from that time as simply, “The Flood,” the clubroom and locker room, located on the lower level of the Muellner Building, were destroyed when the Menomonee River overflowed and completely submerged the club’s space.

Since that time, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the greater Milwaukee area to better protect the Menomonee River valley from flooding. As for the club, the membership pitched in to rebuild in 1998, and longtime members often share stories of the time and talents of members who rebuilt the club’s broomstacking, kitchen, locker, storage, and bar spaces.  

With the clubroom rebuilt, the next challenge became clear: rebounding the membership numbers. As with many clubs in the United States, the return of curling as an official Winter Olympics sport in 1998 added a much-needed exposure boost, and the club’s numbers have climbed consistently ever since.

100 Years, and Counting!

In addition to a robust membership engaging in leagues and bonspiels, the club boasts lively participation in programs including Adaptive Curling, Try Curling, and group/corporate events. The club membership welcomes any and all opportunities to introduce the best sport in the world to future die-hard curling fans.

The Tosa Juniors program also celebrates a milestone this year – the 75th anniversary of juniors curling at the club.

Many curlers have visited Wauwatosa a time or two for the Valentine Open or Men’s Invitational Bonspiel. If you haven’t had the pleasure, ask around curling circles – you’re likely to find someone with rousing tales of Tosa’s signature hospitality.

Beginning this upcoming summer, the club will celebrate its first 100 years with a series of membership and community events. Planned festivities include member events, local celebrations, 100th anniversary merchandise, a golf outing, rumored fireworks, and of course, a blow-out bash bonspiel.

The 2020-21 season brought some temporary changes, but the club managed a complete, if restricted, curling season. Curling leagues went on almost as-usual with required masks, proper distancing, and new sanitization procedures. The four-sheet club became a five-sheet club (kind of), with the addition of outdoor broomstacking on the newly-appointed Sheet Zero – the lot behind the club.

Quick Facts:

Pronunciation: wah-wah-toe-sah

Behind the Name: Founded in 1842, the name Wauwatosa comes from the Potawatomi Chief Wauwataesie and the Potawatomi word for firefly. Today, visitors to Wauwatosa, lovingly shortened to "Tosa" by its residents, will find several firefly references throughout the city, including the name of the main floor room that overlooks the curling club's icehouse — the Firefly Room.

Membership: A normal membership year totals 350-375 members, with the season prior to the coronavirus pandemic reaching nearly 400 active members of the club.

Organization: The club is organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and the club's operations are governed by a board of directors.

Families of Note: The Brenckle, Dunlop, Grant, Hipke, and Rowland-Elwing families include 3rd and 4th generation curlers with the Wauwatosa Curling Club.


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7300 W Chestnut Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

About the Wauwatosa Curling Club

The Wauwatosa Curling Club played its first game in 1921 in a shed that was part of Stickney Field Club on Stickney Avenue, just south of where Wauwatosa's City Hall now stands. In 1925 the shed was moved to what is now Hart Park and play continued there until 1941, when the Club began in its current location, the Muellner Building.

The Club uses four sheets of ice to play and has a clubhouse downstairs with lockers available for members' use, a bar and a full kitchen for preparing meals and snacks. We enjoy a postgame tradition called broomstacking, where members socialize with their team and their opponents' team.

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