(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.

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

THE 7PM TOUR IS SOLD OUT!  THERE ARE STILL SPACES LEFT ON THE 8:30 TOUR.

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.

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

WE ARE SORRY, BUT THIS TOUR IS SOLD OUT!

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.

Oct
27
Fri
Imprisoned Spirits: Paranormal Museum Tours @ Old Courthouse Museum
Oct 27 @ 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.

Nov
8
Wed
Managing Wisconsin’s Heritage @ Old Courthouse Museum
Nov 8 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Managing Wisconsin’s Heritage @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

UW Anthropology Lecturer Brett Hoffman will share the story of a mysterious cardboard box of stone tools found at Lizard Mound County Park in 2014.

He will also explore the challenges are facing Wisconsin’s heritage and what people are doing to help.

Program is free with Old Courthouse Museum admission. Includes hands-on investigation of artifacts.

Nov
11
Sat
Veterans Day FREE Admission @ Old Courthouse Museum
Nov 11 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Veterans Day FREE Admission @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Join us to commemorate our veterans, past and present.

The Old Courthouse Museum will be open for free from 9:00am-3:00pm on Saturday, November 11, 2017. Stop in before or after the ceremony on the Veterans Plaza.

Sorry, Old Jailhouse Museum tours will not be available.

Nov
14
Tue
Annual Membership Meeting @ Old Courthouse Museum
Nov 14 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Nov
23
Thu
CLOSED-Museums and Research Center @ Old Courthouse Museum
Nov 23 – Nov 24 all-day

The Museums and Research Center will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Happy eating!

Dec
23
Sat
CLOSED-Museums and Research Center @ Old Courthouse Museum
Dec 23 – Dec 26 all-day
CLOSED-Museums and Research Center @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

The Museums and Research Center will be closed for the holidays from Saturday, Dec. 23rd through Tuesday, Dec. 26th.  Normal hours resume Wednesday Dec. 27th.

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.