(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

A visit to The History Center of Washington County is something the entire family will enjoy.  Exhibits in the Old Courthouse have interactive activities and “Sniff Stops” to take all your senses back in time.  Our 27 room Zinn Dollhouse offers three fun scavenger hunts, kids can sit in a real wigwam and explore a fur trade post.  Borrow one of our tablets or use your phone to view videos which complement the exhibits.

Don’t miss the Old Sheriff’s Residence and Jail next door.  Join a guided tour where you will walk through the County Sheriff’s mid-20th Century home and place of work.

Our exhibits change regularly so there is always something new to see and explore.

 

Plan Your Visit

Hours

Old Courthouse Museum
Weds – Friday:  11 am – 5 pm
Saturday:  9 am – 3 pm

Sheriff’s Residence and Jail
Weds – Friday:  11 am – 5 pm
Saturday:  Please call ahead to check availability

St. Agnes Historic Site
By Appointment

 

Old Courthouse Museum

Old Sheriff’s Residence & Jail

St. Agnes Historic Convent & School

Admission

One Museum
MEMBERS and Children 5 and under:  FREE
Adults (17 -61):  $5.00
Children (6-16) & Seniors (62+): $4.00

Both Museums
MEMBERS and Children 5 and under:  FREE
Adults (17 -61):  $7.00
Children (6-16) & Seniors (62+): $6.00

Directions/Access

The History Center of Washington County is easy to find at 320 S. 5th Ave.  We are centrally located in the heart of Downtown West Bend and walking distance to MOWA, the river walk, specialty shops and restaurants. The entrance for the Handicap entrance and free parking is located off of Chestnut St. between 5th and 6th Ave.

Group Visits

Taking a personalized group tour through the Old Courthouse & Old Jailhouse Museums and/or St. Agnes Convent & School is a great experience for families and organizational members.

Group rate available for scheduled groups of 10 or more people.

Upcoming Events

Oct
25
Wed
White House Christmas Ornaments (Temporary Exhibit) @ Old Courthouse Museum
Oct 25 2017 @ 7:17 pm – Jan 20 2018 @ 8:17 pm
White House Christmas Ornaments (Temporary Exhibit) @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

View 25 ornaments created by the White House Historical Association and learn about the presidents and era each represents.  Free with museum admission.

Nov
8
Wed
A Swepet Christmas (Temporary Exhibit) @ Old Courthouse Museum
Nov 8 2017 @ 7:36 pm – Jan 6 2018 @ 8:36 pm

Visit with the Swepet family this holiday season.  Enjoy their 27 room dollhouse, all decorated for Christmas!  Includes a new mini exhibit titled “Souvenirs From the Swepet’s World Travels”, highlighting dollhouse artifacts from around the world!

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
7
Thu
The Making of an Exhibit: The Zinn Dollhouse Edition @ Old Courthouse Museum
Dec 7 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
The Making of an Exhibit:  The Zinn Dollhouse Edition @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Did you ever wonder how museum exhibits are made?  Curator of Collections and Exhibits, Janean Van Beckum, will explain the process of exhibit creation and design from the bottom up using the Zinn Dollhouse exhibit as an example. Learn how museums decide what artifacts to accept and how exhibits are researched, designed and installed.  After the program, take a self-guided tour  or complete a scavenger hunt of the Zinn Dollhouse, which will be decorated for Christmas!

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.

Jan
1
Mon
Offices CLOSED @ Old Courthouse Museum
Jan 1 – Jan 2 all-day

The Museum and Research Center offices will be CLOSED Monday, Jan. 1 and Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018.  We will be back on January 3rd!

Research Center CLOSED for Inventory @ Old Courthouse Museum
Jan 1 – Jan 16 all-day
Research Center CLOSED for Inventory @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

The Research Center will be closed for inventory from Monday, January 1 through Tuesday, January 16, 2018.  Normal hours resume Wednesday, Jan. 17th.

The Museums are open during this time.

Jan
20
Sat
Collection of Collectors @ Old Courthouse Museum
Jan 20 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Collection of Collectors @ Old Courthouse Museum | West Bend | Wisconsin | United States

Discover what your neighbors collect during the 11th annual Collection of Collectors.

Collectors share their interesting & unique passion. You’ll learn something new during this fun, informal, & FREE program.

Includes FREE admission to the Old Courthouse Museum. Museum hours are 9:00am-3:00pm.

If you have 2 of something, it’s a collection! And it doesn’t have to be old!

Want to share your collection? Contact Tori at education@historyisfun.com or (262) 335-4678 to register your collection. It’s FREE to participate and all ages of collectors are welcome!

 

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.

The Museums

The Washington County Historical society operates 2 museums and 1 historic site that preserve and tell the story of Washington County. Over 30,000 artifacts are part of the varied collections that tell the story of a county that harmoniously blended rural living and the industrial age.

History of the Old Courthouse Museum

Washington County was laid out by the Territorial Legislature in 1836 and was named after President George Washington. The county was organized for government in 1840 and a court system was established in 1845.

History of the Old Jailhouse Museum

The original wooden jailhouse that sat on the Old Courthouse Square was replaced with the existing brick building in 1886. The jailhouse was used as a jail until 1962 when the new courthouse and jail were built on Washington Street.

History of St. Agnes Convent & School Site

Founded in 1858, the Sisters of St. Agnes managed one of the first schools in Washington County, educating children of all denominations. The site highlights the triumph of survival over inexperience on the unsettled Wisconsin frontier; the drive to not give up but to seek success elsewhere.

Visiting Washington County

If you love history and culture, Washington County is a great place to visit.  We have a host of local historical sites and museums. While the Visit Washington County website has a complete list of things to do in the area at VisitWashingtonCounty.com,  here are few of our favorite historical sites and their events.

Germantown Historical Society: www.bastbellmuseum.com

Sila Lydia Bast Bell Museum: You will marvel at the 5000+ bell collection from Sila Lydia Bast who was born and raised in Germantown, WI 1900-1992.

Christ Church Museum of Local History: This iconic local landmark was built in 1862 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The congregation was founded in 1842 and is one of the oldest in Washington County.

Highlighted Events:  Germantown Hunsrucker Oktoberfest!  at the end of September

Museums open seasonal hours, please check the Germantown Historical Society website.

Richfield Historical Society www.richfieldhistoricalsociety

Messer/Mayer Mill and Mill House:  Learn how flour was processed through authentic equipment and tour the home built by the families.  Also, Pioneer Village offers log cabins and a barn with historic farm equipment.

Highlighted Events: Art at the Mill,  in July and the Annual Thresheree in mid-September.

Wisconsin Auto Museum wisconsinautomuseum.com

This wonderful museum showcases transportation history and features Hartford’s own Kissel Luxury automobiles.

Lizard Mound County Parkhttp://www.wisconsinmounds.com

Lizard Mound is considered one of the best preserved sites of its kind in Wisconsin with 28 intact mounds.  Walking trails and maps allow close access to the mounds.  Visit the new learning center located near the entrance to learn more about these amazing artifacts

Please check the website of the following local Historical Societies for programs and meeting updates.

Jackson Historical Society:   Open by Appointment only  www.villageofjackson.com

Kewaskum Historical Society:  Facebook Page

Farmington Historical Societyfarmingtonhistorical.blogspot.com

 

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