The FWHS “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” brought a sizable crowd to the Clausing Barn at Old World Wisconsin and, when the bidding was done, the April 28th volunteer event had amassed a fund that will be put to good use just a short distance from the barn, at the historic site’s St. Peter’s Church in the Crossroads Village. The relocated structure, a small and simple 1839 Greek Revival frame building, was Milwaukee’s first Catholic Cathedral, drawing its worshippers from the city’s large immigrant population.

In February, the Board of Directors of FRIENDS voted to pledge the auction’s total proceeds to an ongoing program designed to carefully restore the interior furnishings of the church.

The Board’s action, in effect a promise to “complete the project,”fulfills the FRIENDS mission by directing fundraising efforts to the benefit of the state historical society’s programs and projects.

A Preview Party opened the auction, as patrons got a peek at the items up for bid the next day. The prolific rural historian and author Jerry Apps, along with his photographer son, Steve, headlined the dinner event, discussing “Barns of Wisconsin” and celebrating the state’s farm heritage.

Auctioneer Carol Miller, of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service of Oconomowoc, picked up her gavel the following morning to begin the auction of hundreds of antique and vintage treasures. The bidding moved along at a brisk pace, and because the sale was a “no-reserve” auction, carried on without phone or Internet bidding, patrons relished an “old-time auction” atmosphere.

The biennial event enjoys the generous support of our founding co-sponsors, the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association.

Funds from the successful 2010 auction have been used to create awards for National History Day, restore two historic portraits, and support selected Society events. Last year, FRIENDS made a gift of $10,000 to aid in the expansion of the new Historic Preservation Initiative, a component of the WHS website.

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