I’m backtracking a bit here to describe two great sites I visited at the end of November.
Washington House Museum, Two Rivers
The first was the Washington House Museum in Two Rivers, one of four sites operated by the Two Rivers Historical Society. The town claims its place in history as the birthplace of the ice cream sundae (a surprisingly controversial stance) and the Washington House includes a a functional ice cream parlor. It was too cold for ice cream that day, so I was off to explore. The museum’s many rooms are packed with all kinds of artifacts–from the kinds of things found at almost every local historical society (children’s toys, kitchenware, military uniforms)–to relics of an area industry (goods manufactured by the Mirro Aluminum Company of Manitowoc)–to truly bizarre art (a carved wooden model of a tragic farm accident). Scattered throughout the museum are quirky labels hand-lettered by dedicated volunteer Walt Vogel.
The ballroom on the second floor of the museum is decorated with impressive murals, painted by unidentified artists in 1906. The paintings, which include Wisconsin landscape scenes as well as an image of George Washington, were recently restored by the Two Rivers Historical Society.
Dodge County Historical Society, Beaver Dam
On my drive back to Madison, I dropped in on the Dodge County Historical Society in Beaver Dam, where I met curator Mary Jane Jacobsen and found some great artifacts, including a large group of porcelain hand-painted by a local artist, a beaded Odd Fellows apron, and two early quilts (dated to the 1850s). I’m planning to return in 2008 to photograph some of these objects for the database.