The Village of Mukwonago was incorporated as an individual municipality in 1905. A board of six trustees now governs the village. Three trustees are elected at each annual spring election for a term of two years. The Village President is chosen at the regular spring election in odd-numbered years for a term of two years. The municipal justice is elected at the regular spring election in even-numbered years. Currently, there are nine other administrative/management positions in the village.
The Potawatomi Indians first settled the Village of Mukwonago in the 1700s. The village is at the confluence of the Mukwonago and Fox rivers. The term “Mukwonago” translates to “Place of the Bear.” In the spring of 1836, Sewall Andrews and Henry Camp (the first “white settlers”) constructed their homes about a mile northwest of the Indian village. Also in 1836, Mukwonago’s first plat was drawn; most of the streets in the old part of the village still bear the names of the early settlers. The Andrews house still stands today and is now home to the Mukwonago Red Brick House Museum.
In the spring of 1836, Andrews started the village’s first mercantile business and built a store on what was to become “the Village Square.”
For the rest of the 1800s, Mukwonago expanded as a farming community. During this period, dairy and crop production were the main economic activities. In 1885, completion of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (the Soo Line, now part of Canadian Pacific)—which runs through the village—provided the population with transportation and distribution of its products.
In the early 1900s, as the Mukwonago area was “discovered,” travelers came to enjoy the recreational activities afforded by the lakes, springs and outdoors, and the hospitality and tourism trades began to grow. Day trips to the area became convenient with the interurban line, which the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company ran from Milwaukee to East Troy.
The area remained relatively static and contained through the 1960s. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, however, new home construction, subdivision development and business expansion escalated; the size of the village itself grew through annexation. Interstate 43 (the Rock Freeway) was constructed. Running from Milwaukee to Beloit and passing through Mukwonago, it created a simple and convenient connection to both Milwaukee and Illinois. This favored commercial and industrial development. The creation of the Mukwonago Industrial Park in the 1980s provided a well-defined home for industry and heavier commerce. At the turn of the 21st century, Mukwonago’s Gateway Center (just south of I-43) became the anchor location for large retail businesses and the D.N. Greenwald Center (medical), with room for many more to come.