(262) 335-4678

Old Courthouse
& Jail Museums

Wednesday – Friday: 11:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 – 3:00 p.m. 

St. Agnes Historic Site
By Appointment Only

Washington County Courthouse Museum

Frequently Asked Questions

Upcoming Events

Jul
13
Thu
Temporary Exhibit: Washington County Association for Home and Community Education 80th Anniversary @ Old Courthouse Museum
Jul 13 @ 1:11 pm – Oct 7 @ 2:11 pm

Learn about the history of Home and Community Education and area Homemaker Clubs with this exhibit put together by the Washington County Association for Home and Community Education in honor of their 80th Anniversary.

Aug
3
Thu
Father Rehrl’s Rectory & Exhibit Open @ St. Agnes Historic Site
Aug 3 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Built in 1856, it was here that the Sisters of St. Agnes managed one of the first schools in Washington County, educating children of all denominations.

Within the fieldstone rectory of Father Caper Rehrl, the exhibit “From Mound Builders to Church Builders” highlights the triumph of survival over inexperience on the unsettled Wisconsin frontier.

No charge.

Aug
10
Thu
Pioneer Kids Day “Homesteading with Science” @ Old Courthouse Museum
Aug 10 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Pioneer Kids Day “Homesteading with Science” @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Find out how stumps were pulled, what wind power can do, why compasses work, and more!

Age: Open to children entering 1st-5th grades in fall.

Fee: $6/child before Aug 1. $7/child Aug 1 & after. Free for children of WCHS members at Family level or higher

REGISTRATION and PAYMENT REQUIRED by Aug 10, 2017. Each child must be registered by a parent or guardian. Please, no unregistered children or adults. Children may be dropped off NO EARLIER than 8:45am and must be PICKED UP promptly at Noon.

Register and pay online: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=9grf65jab&oeidk=a07ee2yzsz409ac35ac

Register by mail: http://www.historyisfun.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/PKDregsheet2017.jpg

Presented by Washington County Historical Society, Inc. Sponsored in part by West Bend Noon Kiwanis

Sep
7
Thu
It’s in the Details: Architecture Tour & Trip to Tower @ Old Courthouse Museum
Sep 7 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
It’s in the Details: Architecture Tour & Trip to Tower @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

See the Old Washington County Courthouse in a new way! Discover architectural details, learn the meanings behind the symbolism, and trace the construction of this local and national landmark. Climb to the balcony level of the tower and see features rarely seen by the public.

Patrons must wear sensible shoes and be able to climb steep stairs (109 steps from 1st to 6th floor).

$8/WCHS members, $12/non-member. Register and pay at www.HistoryIsFun.com. Due to very limited space, advanced payment is required.

 

Sep
12
Tue
It’s in the Details: Architecture Tour & Trip to Tower @ Old Courthouse Museum
Sep 12 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
It’s in the Details: Architecture Tour & Trip to Tower @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

See the Old Washington County Courthouse in a new way! Discover architectural details, learn the meanings behind the symbolism, and trace the construction of this local and national landmark. Climb to the balcony level of the tower and see features rarely seen by the public.

Patrons must wear sensible shoes and be able to climb steep stairs (109 steps from 1st to 6th floor).

$8/WCHS members, $12/non-member. Register and pay at www.HistoryIsFun.com. Due to very limited space, advanced payment is required.

Sep
19
Tue
Frozen Water Trade @ Old Courthouse Museum
Sep 19 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Frozen Water Trade @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Eileen Eckert of Barton Historical Society will remember the forgotten industry of ice harvesting.

Before electric refrigerators and mechanical ice making technology, ice was cut from frozen ponds, lakes, and rivers and sold to meat packing and brewing companies, as well as to residential ice box owners. Explore the many inventions that enhanced ice production, an industry that rivaled cotton in the 19th Century.

Eileen will also present her drawings and paintings that depict the rise and fall of the ice harvesting industry.

No charge.

Oct
3
Tue
Oshkosh Museum Bus Trip @ Old Courthouse Museum
Oct 3 @ 7:30 am – 5:30 pm

Enjoy the morning at the gracious Paine Art Center featuring “Wonderland” Photographs by Kristy Mitchell.  A family style lunch will be served at Roxy Supper Club. In the afternoon, we will explore the EAA  museum and end with shopping at   Oaks Candy Corner for a sweet treat.   $55 person – Includes: motor coach, lunch, & admissions fees. Bus leaves from History Center, West Bend.

Oct
11
Wed
Imprisoned Spirits: Paranormal Museum Tours @ Old Courthouse Museum
Oct 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Imprisoned Spirits: Paranormal Museum Tours @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Are the Old Washington County Courthouse and Old Jailhouse in West Bend haunted? Visit areas in both Museums where bizarre and unsettling phenomena have been experienced.

90-minute guided walking tours leave promptly at 7:00pm and at 8:30pm. Meet in front of Old Courthouse Museum 15 minutes before tour time. 320 S. 5th Avenue, West Bend, WI 53095

$8.00/WCHS member, $12.00/non-member.

Not recommended for children under 12 due to adult themes.

@ Old Courthouse Museum
Oct 11 @ 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm
 @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Are the Old Washington County Courthouse and Old Jailhouse in West Bend haunted? Visit areas in both Museums where bizarre and unsettling phenomena have been experienced.

90-minute guided walking tours leave promptly at 7:00pm and at 8:30pm. Meet in front of Old Courthouse Museum 15 minutes before tour time. 320 S. 5th Avenue, West Bend, WI 53095

$8.00/WCHS member, $12.00/non-member.

Not recommended for children under 12 due to adult themes.

Imprisoned Spirits: Paranormal Museum Tours @ Old Courthouse Museum
Oct 11 @ 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Imprisoned Spirits: Paranormal Museum Tours @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Are the Old Washington County Courthouse and Old Jailhouse in West Bend haunted? Visit areas in both Museums where bizarre and unsettling phenomena have been experienced.

90-minute guided walking tours leave promptly at 7:00pm and at 8:30pm. Meet in front of Old Courthouse Museum 15 minutes before tour time. 320 S. 5th Avenue, West Bend, WI 53095

$8.00/WCHS member, $12.00/non-member.

Not recommended for children under 12 due to adult themes.

General FAQS

Q: Do I need an appointment to visit the museums?

A: No, the Old Courthouse and Old Jailhouse Museum are open regular hours year-round. Groups of 10 or more should call ahead and talk with the Curator of Education (262) 335-4678 or education@historyisfun.com.

Q: Are the museums accessible?

A: The Old Courthouse Museum has an elevator that is accessed from the parking lot. The Old Jailhouse Museum does not have an elevator and several steps and stairs.

Q: Can I take pictures in the museum?

A: Yes, non-flash photographs are allowed in the Old Courthouse and Old Jailhouse Museums. For professional photography, contact the History Center (262) 335-4678.

Q: How can I go up into the tower?

A: The Old Courthouse tower is closed to the public. However, the It’s In the Details Architecture Tour includes a trip up to the tower. Or, you can purchase a Trip to the Tower certificate in the Treasurer’s Vault Gift Shop.

Q: Who owns the buildings?

A: Washington County has owned and maintained the property and the buildings on it since 1854. An agreement with the County allows The History Center Washington County to operate within both the Old Courthouse and Old Jailhouse. St. Agnes Historic Convent and School Site is owned and operated by The History Center Washington County.

Q: Do you accept credit cards?

A: Yes, we accept cash, check, and credit cards.

Q: Is museum admission required to shop in the Treasurer’s Vault Gift Shop?

A: No. Shopping in the gift shop is free.

Q: How do I rent the Old Courthouse Museum/Circuit Courtroom?

A: Contact Sue (262) 335-4678 or susan@historyisfun.com.

Q: When are the museums open?

A: The Old Courthouse Museum is open year-round on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:00am-5:00pm and Saturday 9:00am-3:00pm. It is closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

The Old Jailhouse Museum is open for guided tours year-round on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:00am-5:00pm. Call ahead (262) 335-4678 to check Saturday tour availability. It is closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

St. Agnes Historic Convent & School Site is open on specific days June-August and by appointment. Contact the History Center (262) 335-4678 to check dates or to schedule a tour.

Membership/donate FAQS

Q: Do I have to live in or be from Washington County to become a member?

A: No. Anyone interested in preservation of the past is welcome to join. Find more about becoming a member on the Support page.

Q: Am I expected to attend meetings to become a member?

A: No. As a member, you are invited to the annual November membership meeting and vote on the incoming Board of Directors.  

Q: How do I make a memorial gift or a gift in honor of someone?

A: Contact the Executive Director, (262) 335-4678 or director@historyisfun.com, or fill out the form on the Support page and return with a check. 

Q: How would I make a bequest gift?

A: Contact the Executive Director, (262) 335-4678 or director@historyisfun.com.

Q: I have an object that I would like to donate. What do I need to do?

A: All object donations must first have approval of the Curator of Collections and Exhibits. Please do not drop them off or leave them at the door. Make an appointment by contacting the Curator of Collections and Exhibits, (262) 335-4678 or curator@historyisfun.com.

Q: I would like to make a gift to the Washington County Historical Society Foundation, Inc.

A: Endowment Fund gifts can be mailed to The History Center Washington County, 320 S 5th Ave, West Bend, WI 53095. Make checks to "Washington County Historical Foundation, Inc."  and include any specific instructions. Contact the Executive Director, (262) 335-4678 or director@historyisfun.com, with any questions.

Common Research Center Questions

Q: What records do you have?

The Research Center holds collections concerning the people, places, and events of Washington County. Please see the Research Center page for more. 

Q: How does "this" (the Research Center) work?

While appointments are not required they are recommended. All Research Center materials and collections are in storage. We have indexes and catalogs to help us find information.  Essentially, you tell us what you are looking for and we find and pull the materials that will have the information you are searching for. This is why an appointment is recommended. We can do a search and pull the materials before your arrival so all you have to do is start researching.

Please, also remember that unless you are a member of the History Center, there is a $5 daily Research Center fee; copies are extra and no cell phones or personal scanners.

Contact the Curator of Archives, (262) 335-4678 or research@historyisfun.com, for more information.

Q: How do I find out information regarding my home?

We are looking for and collecting information when it becomes available, there is no way the Research Center can have a detailed history of every home - that would be a monumental task and think of the space! Such a collection could make up its own archives. 

While we don’t have detailed histories of every house in Washington County there are ways to find out some basic information using the sources that we have here and those at the Register of Deeds Office.

To determine when a house was built check the inside and outside of the home for a date carved in stone or wood. Your next step would be to look through the tax records for a spike in property value. The tax record will not tell you that a house was built; a significant spike in property value does indicate that a structure was built on the property. Plat maps are also helpful. The Research Center does have tax records, but not for every township or municipality.

To determine who first owned or built the house you will need to go to the Register of Deeds Office in the County Courthouse. There you will be able to look through land deeds by property description, or by the surname of a previous owner.

Q: I would like birth, marriage, and death certificates.

The Research Center does have pre-1907 vital records on microfilm. Please note that it was not mandated that people had to file these vital records with a governmental body. For this time period a search of our church records may yield more information. 

For certificates after 1907, a visit to the Register of Deeds office will be needed. The RC does have church records through 2000 for most churches.

Contact the Curator of Archives, (262) 335-4678 or research@historyisfun.com, for more information.

Q: I would like a copy of a photograph. Can you photocopy it?

The Research Center does not photocopy our photographs. We do photographic reproductions. Reproduction sizes are from 8x10 to 17x22. Please contact the Curator of Archives, (262) 335-4678 or research@historyisfun.com, for pricing. 

All of our photographs are digitized and cataloged. Sometimes finding a photograph is as easy as typing in the right search term and other times researchers find the binder copies of the photographs easier to navigate. Either way there is a way to find the one photograph you are looking for in our 16,000 (and growing) photograph collection.  

Q: Are Research Center records online?

The Research Center is working on cataloging collections that have not been cataloged to put the catalog record or Finding Aid online. Check the Digital Collections page often to see what has been added recently.

Q: I have materials to donate.

All archival materials come to the Research Center. This includes photographs, maps, papers, letters, books, and more. Contact the Curator of Archives, (262) 335-4678 or research@historyisfun.com, or see our Support page for more information. 

Q: Is there a fee to use the Research Center?

A: Yes, there is a fee to use the Research Center. A $5.00 daily fee is charged for use of the Research Center unless you are a member of the History Center. Members can use the Research Center for free. Any photocopies, photographic reproductions, and scanning are extra.

Q: I would like to know where my great-great grandfather is buried.

A: The Research Center does have information regarding burials in Washington County. Often, it’s as easy as looking in our Death and Burial Index. Other times more research is needed. Contact the Curator of Archives, (262) 335-4678 or research@historyisfun.com, for more information.