07:35 AM

WCTC staff member has unique connection to College property

Eric Anderson - farmhouse

As Waukesha County Technical College continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary throughout 2023, WCTC staff member Trena Anderson recently discovered a unique connection between her new home and the family who once owned the property where the main Pewaukee campus sits.

Earlier this spring, Anderson, who is the Student Life navigator for nontraditional occupations, along with her husband, Eric, director of KM Connect Virtual Academy for Communication & Collaboration in the Kettle Moraine School District, moved from Waterville (between Dousman and Wales) to their home on Prospect Avenue in Pewaukee. Coincidentally, the house they purchased was an original home located on the Steele Family Farm – the same family that sold 110 acres to WCTC to be used for the main College campus.

History of the farmland

Multiple members of the Steele family owned properties in Pewaukee since the late 1870s and used the land for different farming operations over the years (dairy farm and apple orchard). From the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, portions of the properties were sold off to Waukesha County Technical College, the Pewaukee School District and to a developer for the creation of a subdivision. A member of the Steele family – Ken Steele -- lived in a farmhouse on Steele Farm property for many years until 1990 when he moved to a different property, but he held on to the quaint farmhouse and rented it out.

Trena by fireplaceGiving an old house new life

After the renters moved out of the farmhouse, it remained vacant for a while and fell into disrepair. Nearby resident Steve Jost drove past the house daily and was saddened to see its rundown state. He reached out to the Steele family after Ken’s death in 2010, and he purchased the home with the intent of fixing it up. Jost, along with the renters and owners that followed, spent the next several years rehabbing the house, giving it new life. Several significant updates were made, including replacing electrical components, remodeling bathrooms, refinishing hardwood floors, replacing windows, regrading the yard, making improvements to landscaping, among other projects.

 Today, Anderson is enjoying the home’s warmth, charm and distinction; is embracing its past; and is benefiting from its proximity to campus.

“When we were in the process of buying our house, we didn’t know anything about the history,” Anderson said. “There are so many good things about this house. It’s a sturdy little home, very quiet and well made,” she said of her 1800-square foot farmhouse on 1.2 wooded acres. “I’m a four-minute drive or a 22-minute walk to WCTC; the location is just fantastic.”

 With all the updates from the previous owners, as well as her personal touches, Anderson has put her stamp on the property, but also recognizes its unique history.

 “I hope the current state of the farmhouse would make the Steele family smile,” she said.