History is such a significant aspect of the Tri-States, and the Midwest as a whole. History is especially important when it comes to architecture I just learned this week that potentially the oldest house in Wisconsin is still standing after 246 years.

Wisconsin, specifically the Green Bay neighborhood, is home to Tank Cottage, reportedly the oldest standing home in the state. We know for a fact it's at least 219-years-old; some reports date it back to 1776, the year the United States was formed. Various accounts exist, so there is no concretion.

Heritage Hill State Historical Park, where Tank Cottage is located. Photo Credit: Google Maps
Heritage Hill State Historical Park, where Tank Cottage is located. Photo Credit: Google Maps

The website A-Z Animals compiled a cleanly written biography of the home, specifically noting these important details about Tank Cottage:

  • Joseph Roi, a French-Canadian fur trader and voyager, built the Tank Cottage around 1776.
  • Niels Otto Tank, a prominent missionary, bought the house in 1850 and founded a Moravian Church settlement on its grounds.
  • The Tank Cottage is located in the heart of Green Bay, Wisconsin within walking distance of the Fork River.

A Brief History of the Tank Cottage:

Per A-Z Animals, the house was built by a French-Canadian voyageur and fur trader named Joseph Roi, who arrived in Wisconsin in the 1700s. There's not much information on Roi despite him being one of the first settlers in Green Bay, a big footnote in itself:

He lived in the cottage for several years after its completion and then sold it to Jacques Porlier, a judge and fur trader. We believe he spent the rest of his life living in Tank Cottage. He passed away in 1839 after living an incredibly rich and storied life. In 1850, the cottage’s namesake would purchase the house. A Norwegian man by the name of Niels Otto Tank purchased this cottage and used it to found a Moravian Church Settlement. - per A-Z Animals

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The Structure of the House Itself:

The National Register of Historic Places cites the Tank Cottage as a "wattle construction" house:

The four corners of the house were made of willow trees set into the ground with upright supports made of willow. There is little overall convention to the style of the house, but it has early French-Canadian influences.


Branches, twigs, and boughs were then woven between the four corner posts and supports to fashion a wall. Once this was completed, the walls were plastered with mud and clay, and then covered with horizontal split boards on the inside. This was to provide more solidity and warmth to the structure. Outer siding was added to the building later. - per A-Z Animals

You can read more about Tank Cottage on A-Z Animals' website as well as the house's Wikipedia page. Tank Cottage is located at 2640 South Webster Ave in Green Bay, WI.

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