(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

Upcoming Events

Jan
31
Wed
Great Lakes Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin Traveling Exhibit @ Old Courthouse Museum
Jan 31 – Feb 24 all-day
Great Lakes Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin Traveling Exhibit @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Did you know the Great Lakes hold 20% of the Earth’s fresh water?   Join us for a special showing of Great Lakes Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin, a traveling exhibit presented by the Wisconsin Historical Society.  This 16 panel exhibit explores our state’s long relationship with water and the impact we have had on our vast waterways.

Feb
3
Sat
Lake Michigan Shipwrecks and Discoveries @ Old Courthouse Museum
Feb 3 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Great Lakes are known as the inland seas with powerful storms reaching up to hurricane force winds and ships disappearing beneath the waves.  The Great Lakes used to resemble a busy highway with ships crossing them; transporting natural resources, grain, cargo, and people. At times ships collided and sunk.  Join Capt. Jitka Hanakova as she takes you back in time from when the first ever ship, the Le Griffon, crossed the Great Lakes to discovering missing schooners, steamships, freighters, and even airplanes.  You will find out how these ships sunk and what they look like on the bottom of the lakes now – some still containing precious cargo of Christmas trees, Nash automobiles, and even a safe with gold coins.

 

Free with museum admission.

Feb
17
Sat
Matinee Courtroom Mystery Trial: Trial of Freddy “the Fish” PART ONE @ Old Courthouse Museum
Feb 17 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Matinee Courtroom Mystery Trial: Trial of Freddy “the Fish”  PART ONE @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

A rash of crimes have been haunting 1930’s Washington County and it is believed Chicago Gangster Freddy “The Fish” is responsible. Judge Bucklin will preside over this unique interactive evening where each guest is a victim, witness, juror or  “friend” of Freddy’s.  Period dress is popular and encouraged.  Based on real crimes and historical characters, and locations in Washington County and beyond.

Doors open at 2:30.  Matinee Dessert Trial tickets include an assortment of cookies, bars, chocolates, fruit and savory snacks and non-alcoholic beverages with a cash wine and beer bar.

Dinner Courtroom Mystery Trial: Trial of Freddy “the Fish” PART ONE @ Old Courthouse Museum
Feb 17 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Dinner Courtroom Mystery Trial: Trial of Freddy “the Fish”  PART ONE @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

A rash of crimes have been haunting 1930’s Washington County and it is believed Chicago Gangster Freddy “The Fish” is responsible. Judge Bucklin will preside over this unique interactive evening where each guest is a victim, witness, juror or  “friend” of Freddy’s.  Period dress is popular and encouraged.  Based on real crimes and historical characters, and locations in Washington County and beyond.

Doors open at 5:30.  The Dinner Mystery Trial tickets include a buffet by Catering by Bryan with salmon, bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, red potatoes, green beans, baby carrots, tossed salad and dessert.  Includes ice tea and coffee.  Cash bar.

Feb
28
Wed
West Bend High School Band Concert @ Old Courthouse Museum
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

The West Bend High School Band preforms in the Old Courtroom.

Mar
3
Sat
Junior Girl Scout Program: Mystery in the Museum @ Old Courthouse Museum
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Junior Girl Scout Program:  Mystery in the Museum @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

The Junior Girl Scouts are called to the scene of a robbery at the Old Courthouse Museum. Complete activities and put the clues together to discovery who the culprit is!

-Dust for Fingerprints

-Analyze Handwriting

-Learn Chromatography

-Collect Trace Evidence

-MORE!

Who: Junior Girl Scouts (grades 4 & 5)

Where: Old Courthouse Museum, 320 S. 5th Avenue, West Bend 53095

Fee: $9.00/Girl Scout or adult. Cash, check, or credit cards. Due to limited space, only registered Junior Girl Scouts may participate.

REGISTRATION and PAYMENT REQUIRED by February 23, 2018. Each Girl Scout must be registered by a parent or guardian. Troop leaders may attend for no charge but, please, no additional parents. Badges not included.

Contact Tori (262) 335-4678 or education@historyisfun.com to register.

Mar
11
Sun
Tea Dance with Mike Mattek @ Old Courthouse Museum
Mar 11 @ 2:16 pm – 3:16 pm
Tea Dance with Mike Mattek @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Mike Mattek will be teaching brief introductory lessons on the Waltz, Tango, Charleston, Mambo, and Samba to help you get on the dance floor. A wide variety of ballroom dance music will be played for general dancing.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

1:00 –4:00 Workshop/Free Dance & Tea – $20

2:00 – 4:00 Free Dance and Tea Only – $15

Advance Reservations Appreciated

 

All Proceeds Benefit the History Center Washington County

 

Mar
20
Tue
Show ‘n’ Tell with Mike Paul @ Old Courthouse Museum
Mar 20 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Show ‘n’ Tell with Mike Paul @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Dig out your family treasures, dust them off, and bring them to Show ‘n’ Tell with Mike Paul. Mike Paul is a professional appraiser and auctioneer of Paul Auction Company, Inc. in Kewaskum.

Mike will share his incredible knowledge of antiques with the audience as he examines each piece.

Even if you don’t have anything to share, this evening is fun & informative.

$5.00/non-member. Free/WCHS Member. Please, only ONE ITEM per person.

Don’t have an item? There’s no charge to watch.

May
2
Wed
History of the Doughboy Monument @ Old Courthouse Museum
May 2 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
History of the Doughboy Monument @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

In honor of the opening of our new traveling exhibit WWII Beyond the Trenches: Stories from the Front courtesy of The Wisconsin Veterans Museum, our executive director Patricia Lutz will be presenting on the history of the Doughboy Statue.

Free with museum admission.

WWI Beyond the Trenches: Stories from the Front Traveling Exhibit @ Old Courthouse Museum
May 2 @ 3:00 pm – Jun 2 @ 4:56 pm
WWI Beyond the Trenches: Stories from the Front  Traveling Exhibit @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Over 122,000 Wisconsin men and women served on land, sea and in the air during WWI.  WWI Beyond the Trenches, a traveling exhibit from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, features an up close and personal look at the Great War through the eyes of Wisconsin veterans using photographs and first person accounts.  This special exhibit is free with museum admission.

Financial

Click here to donate to the Annual Appeal

Thank you for your interest in supporting The History Center Washington County operated by the Washington County Historical Society through a monetary donation.  The Historical Society is a 501c3 organization and funding from individuals is an important part of our success.  Please download the form below to make a Memorial Gift, Honorarium Gift, Restricted Gift, or an Unrestricted donation.  If you have questions or are interested in information on how the Society can be included in your Estate Planning, please contact Patricia Lutz at 262-335-4678 or director@historyisfun.com .

We strain to listen to the ghosts and echoes of our inexpressibly wise past, and we have an obligation to maintain these places, to provide these sanctuaries, so that people may be in the presence of forces larger than those of the moment.

      — Ken Burns, Preservation Magazine January/February [2005]pg 16

Artifacts

The artifact and archival collections of the Washington County Historical Society range from prehistoric ceramics to mid-century clothing and modern day toys.

The museum accepts donations of artifacts that help in meeting our mission of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Washington County, Wisconsin. We rely on the generosity of donors to enhance and expand the collections.

What Types of Artifacts Does the Museum Accept?

We collect a wide variety of artifacts from prehistoric to present day.  Each potential donation is reviewed by the Curator of Collections and Exhibits to evaluate its appropriateness for the permanent collection.

Artifacts accepted into the collection generally meet the following basic criteria:

  1. The artifact has an Washington County connection and a known history or is representative of artifacts that would have been used in the County
  2. The artifact is in good and stable physical condition.
  3. The artifact is unique and not already over-represented in the collection.
  4. The artifact can be acquired without restrictions such as requirements for a long-term loan or permanent exhibition of the artifact.
What Happens After my Artifact is Accepted into the Collection?

If it is determined that an artifact is appropriate for the collection, the donor completes a Deed of Gift transferring legal ownership of the artifact to the Washington County Historical Society and the donor receives a copy of the Deed of Gift.  Donations may be tax deductible; however, IRS regulations and policies prohibit museum staff from appraising artifacts.  Donors who wish to receive a tax deduction for their donation should consult a tax professional and a qualified appraiser prior to completing the Deed of Gift.

When Will My Artifact be on Exhibit?
We cannot guarantee that any artifact will be exhibited and only a small fraction of the collection is on exhibit at any one time. Regardless of whether or not an artifact is placed on exhibit, it is a valued piece of history and as part of the collection will be preserved to allow future generations to learn about our cultural heritage.
How do I donate an Artifact?

Artifact Donations are by appointment only. Artifacts are acquired though donations, bequest, and short term loans.  No permanent loans are accepted.  The Museum will not assume any loans or donations with specific conditions or restrictions.

Have a an artifact you would like considered?  Contact Janean Mollet-Van Beckum, Curator of Collections and Exhibits, at 262-335-4678 or e-mail curator@historyisfun.com to make an appointment.

What does the Research Center and Archives Collect?

The Research Center and Archives is collecting materials that document people, places, and events of Washington County’s history.   Materials will be carefully cared for and preserved so they will serve as a research and information source for future generations.  Have documents, family papers, letters, photographs, maps, etc. that you are interested in donating to the Research Center and Archives? Contact Heather Przybylski, Curator of Archives, at research@historyisfun.com or 262-335-4678. Appointments are needed for all donations.

Other Ways to Support HCWC

Volunteer

Love telling stories and working with the public, or are you detail oriented and want to work behind the scenes? HCWC is always looking for volunteers to fill essential positions. Fill out an application or check out open positions on the Volunteer Center of Washington County’s website.

Become a member

Becoming a member of the History Center has many benefits!

Our members receive our outstanding newsletter “The Court Reporter” filled with information about the HCWC, articles about the history of the County and photos and information about exhibits and artifacts.

Members receive first notice of programs with fee discounts and discounts in the gift shop.  Members also enjoy unlimited passes to the Old Courthouse Museum and the Sheriff’s Residence and Jail. For more membership information click here, to join download and print the form below.

Shop

Browse for souvenirs and books by local authors in the Treasurer’s Vault Gift shop.

The Shop is located on the 1st floor of the Old Courthouse Museum, 320 S 5th Ave, West Bend, WI 53095. Hours are Wed-Fri 11-5 and Sat 9-3. No admission to shop.

Order some our most popular items from the Treasurer’s Vault Gift Shop online!