Last week I drove northeast from Madison to Beaver Dam, where I spent an afternoon photographing objects in the collection of the Dodge County Historical Society. With the help of curator Mary Beth Jacobson, I shot an interesting assortment of local artifacts including two chairs, a hand-woven coverlet, several framed wreaths (one made of hair, one of yarn, and one of shells and grains), and a group of hand-painted porcelain.
The Dodge County Historical Museum is impressively large. Located in downtown Beaver Dam in the former Williams Free Library (built in 1891), the museum includes three floors of exhibits. A small area at the front of the main floor features a rotation of small exhibitions.
Right now this space is dedicated to a display of early furniture from McKinstry’s Home Furnishings, a family-owned furniture store that has been in operation in Beaver Dam since 1858. The Windsor chair show above is said to have been made by store founder John McKinstry in the 1860s. I know this kind of nostalgia is a bit cliched, but in this era of particle board furniture from Ikea and Target (and that includes my own bookshelves and bed frame), a locally-owned small-town furniture store is indeed a rare find.
Artifacts from the Dodge County Historical Society will be posted online in the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database later this spring.
Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.