Tomorrow River Homestead was created in 2017 as a place for artists and travelers to experience a rural America often left unaccessible by cultural divide. Set in a very small village in Central Wisconsin, this property offers new perspectives on visiting the country. TRH hopes to enrich hospitality using feminist framework to develop a welcoming experience for folks of all identities.
In 2017 Rue and Zay left the Pacific Northwest and headed East to find respite from high cost, busy living. While visiting friends in Wisconsin, they impulsively purchased the “Old Nelsonville Rest Home”. Rue knew immediately that this was going to be their home, their studio, and a place to welcome friends from all over the country. Zay was slightly more skeptical and rightly concerned about the amount of repair the facility needed.
Since purchase they have been working diligently on putting new life into this historical building.
Tomorrow River Homestead is a 4.5 acre corner lot just across from Downtown Nelsonville. Originally built by Jerome Nelson, the estate ran the Rising Star Mill (pictured bottom left) in the late 1800’s. Now the Rising Star Mill can be rented for events throughout the summer. The property is defined by the Tomorrow River which guests have access to a canoe or black tubes to float the incredible scene. Follow First Street down and it leads you to Lake Elaine (pictured top left). There you can swim from Nelsonville’s secret beachfront while listening to wild life echo over the waters.
In 1953 Greta Stratton, a nurse from Madison, was driving through Nelsonville and stopped for lunch at a small diner. Much like Rue, she was at a place in her career where the next step was an entrepreneurial one. She headed back to her husband in Madison to let him know she would be starting her own nursing home in Central Wisconsin. After 25 years of serving the elderly, the Nelsonville Rest Home closed.
During the 80’s a biker gang took over the estate. The house took a dark turn. For the next couple years the house was known for being a place to get high and get laid. Men in leather vest with fur tails hanging from their belts would stand out in the parking lot tossing small bones in the yard. Hippies tell stories of stealing racist paraphernalia from the yard and smashing it out car doors. When the feds raided the complex, the owner fled down the fire escape supposedly making it free to Florida. Words of advice, you don’t move to a small village to lay low.
After the gang left, the house became known as a place where folks could live for cheap. Many were men coming out of relationships or passing through for various jobs in the area. The house started to really fall apart and the slumlord owner sold the place to a fellow resident, posted to be torn down in 2020.
Tomorrow River Homestead Director
Tomorrow River Homestead is directed by artist Rubina Marie Martini.
Find more about their practice here: