More Books for the Hunkered Down History Lover

Quell your quarantine blues with these books about fascinating figures, places, and tales from Wisconsin’s history!


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Support FWHS by Shopping with AmazonSmile


FWHS has joined AmazonSmile!

When you shop online using AmazonSmile, you pay the same amount but Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to a charity of your choosing—in this case, to FWHS.

Type in and log in to your Amazon account from there to directly support our organization while you shop, instead of having to select it from a big list later on.

Be sure to share this with your family and friends!

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Books for the Hunkered Down History Lover



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Auction Update: Bid via Beloit!

This year’s benefit auction is still on…online, that is!
The auction will be on Wednesday, May 27th at Beloit Auction & Realty, found at The entire catalog will be posted there for viewing and bidding. Check there often!
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Benefit Auction Postponed

The Friends will be postponing the April auction event and its Preview Night due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. We will post new dates for the benefit auction as soon as new plans are developed. Thank you for your understanding, and stay safe!


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WHS Adds to State Register of Historic Places

The Wisconsin Historical Society recently announced a number of new additions to the State Register of Historic Places, Wisconsin’s official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin’s heritage, including the following:

George W. Borg Corporation Building (Delavan, WI)


Constructed in 1943 as a manufacturing facility, the George W. Borg Corporation fulfilled government contracts for war materiel during World War II. Products included mechanical time fuzes for anti-aircraft shells for which the company developed a machine to manufacture adjusting nuts that increased the rate of fuze production. Following the war, the newly created Borg Fabric Division occupied the building and its success led to the construction of a three-story addition in 1956. Investing in research and development, the Borg Fabric Division made advancements in the production of knitted pile fabrics using synthetic fibers, and received numerous patents throughout the 1950s and 1960s when the industry rapidly grew. The Borg Fabric Division operated both day and night shifts in the subject building at a time when the George W. Borg Corporation was the largest employer in Delavan. Shifting market conditions resulted in the end of pile fabrics manufacturing at this location in 1980.


Horlick Malted Milk Company (Racine, WI)


The Horlick Malted Milk Company, composed of 12 buildings located on a 16-acre site near Racine’s historic downtown, is the headquarters and manufacturing plant of the company, one of Racine’s most significant industrial enterprises. Brothers William and James Horlick established a milk products company and moved to the subject property in 1877. In 1883, William Horlick patented a powdered milk food product consisting of malted barley, wheat extract, and evaporated whole milk that was nutritious, easily digestible, non-perishable, and soluble in water. This invention was the world’s first “malted milk.” The company established milk purity standards that were adopted statewide by Wisconsin’s dairy industry and its invention of malted milk quickly spread nationally, becoming a household name developed through nationwide advertising campaigns and worldwide distribution.


King Street Arcade (Madison, WI)


The King Street Arcade, built in 1927 and located a half-block off of the Capitol Square, was designed with 24 smaller-sized rental spaces for stores and offices. These spaces are accessed from two streets bordering the building and also by an interior two-story arcade, lit by a very large glass skylight. Today, shopping malls using this concept are commonplace, but in 1927, only the nation’s largest cities could boast of such buildings. The King Street Arcade was developed and owned by a member of Madison’s prominent Hobbins family. The building is also notable as the work of Madison architect and engineer Henry Charles Huart, who practiced in Madison during most of the 1920s. The King Street arcade is rare in Madison, unique as being the only example of its type in the city from the era prior to the end of World War II, and one of the very few to be built in Wisconsin during the same period.


Shaw Point Historic District (Bayfield, WI)


The Shaw Point Historic District is significant for its varied history, telling the developmental story of commerce, maritime history, agriculture and recreation, and architecture. The first settlements relied on extractive industries and agriculture to support their economies. Commercial fishermen, miners, loggers, and farmers shipped their commodities to eastern markets first by steamships and then by railroad. These transportation networks also opened northern Wisconsin to leisure passengers, who began vacationing at resorts along the Lake Superior shore in the late nineteenth century. Eventually, seasonal visitors acquired property along the lakeshore to construct private vacation homes. The three properties in the Shaw Point Historic District reflect this arc: the Shaw-Hill Farm was an early commercial fishing camp and farm; Camp Stella was a recreational resort; and the Campbell-Jensch Property was developed for private seasonal use. Eventually, all of the properties became second homes as extractive industries, agriculture, and recreational resorts dwindled in importance in the twentieth century.


Simonds 10-Sided Barn (Stevens Point, WI)


The Simonds 10-Sided Barn is a small dairy barn, built in 1916 and having a stone and concrete foundation, and wood board-and-batten walls. One of only 112 known centric barns in Wisconsin, the Simonds barn is unusual for its 10 sides and off-set silo. Constructed by Orville and Otto Kramer, two brother carpenters from nearby Baraboo, this barn was built for Benjamin Simonds who not only had a small dairy farm but was a schoolteacher. The construction of the Simonds barn parallels a period of intensive dairy farming and concern for progressive improvement in rural life in the history of Sauk County. The property exchanged hands a number of times before being purchased by the Eschenbach family, who operated the dairy farm from the 1940s to the 1970s.



West Bend Theater (West Bend, WI)


Opening on November 29, 1929, the West Bend Theater was purpose-built as a movie theater and live theater venue with a full stage for live theater and the most current technology of the time for projection and screening of movies. The West Bend Theater was designed in the Art Deco style by the prominent architectural firm Graven & Mayger from Chicago which was a master firm known primarily for large-scale theater design from 1926 to 1929. At 872 seats, the West Bend Theater is small in comparison to most Graven & Mayger theaters, but having such a prominent firm design a theater in this smaller city was an achievement residents could boast about. Currently undergoing restoration, including the original marquee and blade sign, storefronts, ticket booth, lobby and audience chamber, and interior finishes including the historic paint scheme, the theater will re-open for live performance, movies, and community events.




Van Brunt Memorial School (Horicon, WI)


The Van Brunt Memorial School, built in 1922 and expanded with later additions, was designed by the notable Wisconsin firm of Parkinson and Dockendorff as a “combination school” housing primary (kindergarten through junior high) students and secondary (high school) students in separate wings. The Van Brunt Memorial School is significant as the most important educational building in Horicon and represents this rural community’s commitment to secondary-level education. In 1993, the school district proposed to demolish the Van Brunt Memorial School. Instead, local voters chose to fund a remodeling of the building that included interior alterations to the gymnasium and auditorium, the construction of an elevator and stair tower at the rear of the 1922 school to meet accessibility requirements, and the construction of a new gymnasium.


War Eagle Shipwreck (La Crosse, WI)


The sidewheel steamboat War Eagle is the only known river sidewheel steamboat shipwreck in Wisconsin waters, providing historians and archaeologists the rare chance to study the construction of vessels commonly used on the upper Mississippi River. The War Eagle shipwreck site has yielded information about vessel construction, the life of people at that time, and the commodities that were being shipped. Before rail lines were constructed west of the Mississippi River, steamboats like the War Eagle were an important link in connecting peoples and goods between the economically and culturally developed eastern markets with the virgin territory west of the Mississippi, defining its place in the larger context of maritime history. This vessel also played an important role the movement of military troops and supplies during the American Civil War. Although the vessel is located in an area of black water (low to no visibility) with strong and potentially dangerous current and cross current conditions, there is potential for future discoveries as technological advancements in remote sensing and robotics continue to flourish.




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Donate and Shop at WADA’s Winter 2020 Show

The FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society have been given a booth at the 46th Winter Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association Show & Sale, to be held on Friday, January 31 & Saturday, February 1 at the Waukesha County Expo Center, to promote their biennial “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” (to be held at Old World Wisconsin in April). W.A.D.A. is the founding and continuing sponsor of the event which raises important funding for Wisconsin historic preservation endeavors. Donations of auction items will be accepted at the FRIENDS booth and tax-deductible receipts will be provided!

WADA Winter 2020

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Donate Items for April’s Auction!

2020 Auction Rack Card - Donate

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Just One Donated Item Will Make a Difference!

2020 Auction - Oak Hall Tree a2020 Auction - Pipsqueak, Drunkard's Path 22020 Auction - Rosenau, Steuben Verre de Soie Comport, short

The FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society are currently collecting tax-deductible donations of antiques and vintage items for their April 25, 2020 “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” to be held, once again, at Old World Wisconsin’s historic Clausing Barn in Eagle.

Whether a traditional antique, a single collectible coin, a vintage rock or travel poster, or even a 1970s home video game console like Atari or Pong, just one donated item will make a difference! Only six months away, this important fund-raising auction is 2 years in the making! Interesting antique and vintage items made before 1980 are being gathered from across middle America, with tax-deductible receipts provided.

The inaugural auction, held in April 2010, was followed by four successful encores in April 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. Thus far the proceeds from the five biennial auctions have provided important funding for historic sites in Wisconsin as well as for National History Day. A grant from the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association continues their commitment as the benefit auction’s founding sponsors.

The auction’s now-legendary Preview Party includes dinner, prizes, a speaker, silent auctions, and good old-fashioned fun on Friday night, April 24, 2020. Seating is limited so make your reservations early by calling 262.352.0479.

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service in Oconomowoc has once again volunteered to call the auction. You can follow Carol’s many auctions throughout the year at

For questions about  the April 25, 2020 “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction,” or to make a donation of an antique or vintage item, please contact Phil Schauer at 608.295.7240, or Debbie McArdle at 815.575.1272,

2020 Auction - McArdle, Green Glass Decanter w Silver Overlay2020 Auction - Hedgwood - buggy2020 Auction - IMG_5630

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Friends of WHS Annual Meeting Held at Delafield

The Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society (FWHS) held the 2019 annual meeting on June 26th in Delafield, Wisconsin. Part of the FWHS group boarded a bus in Madison for the one-hour trip to Delafield, where other members and friends joined them. Over thirty people enjoyed the day led by FWHS president, Phillip Schauer.

While in Delafield, the group toured the historically amazing exhibit of Abraham Lincoln & The Civil War. The exhibit featured a life-sized portrait of President Lincoln that once hung in the White House and many more paintings of Civil War figures and events. A collection of sculptures of Civil War leaders featured a bust of Lincoln taken from an actual life mask of the President.

Annual Meeting 2019 Lincoln and Old Glory

Other relevant artifacts in the collection include one of the tables used at Appomattox when the CSA surrendered to General Grant, a fragment of the Surrender Flag, and a snippet of President Lincoln’s blood-soaked lapel that he wore when he was assassinated.

Annual Meeting 2019 curator gives details at lincoln exhibit

A key part of the exhibit is the Medal of Honor (on loan from the Gettysburg Museum) awarded to Alonzo Cushing, who was born in Delafield. Cushing was killed during Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg and a painting, Death of Alonzo Cushing, is also on display.

Next door to the Delafield History Center, the FWHS members toured historic Hawks Inn, a marvelously restored stagecoach inn from the Civil War era. Members of the Delafield History Society, dressed in period costumes, led tours of the three floors of the old inn. One of the most interesting parts of the tour was a stop in the kitchen where a lunch was being prepared over an open fireplace hearth.

Annual Meeting 2019 Hawks Inn tour

After the historic tours, the group walked to nearby Revere’s for a delicious lunch. President Schauer then led a short business meeting that featured the election of Riene Wells, Carol Lee Saffioti-Hughes, Linda Noer, Anne Gurnack, Frances Kavenik, Pat Raap, Brad Steinmetz, and Phillip Schauer as the voting roster for the FWHS Board of Directors.

Annual Meeting 2019 Waterville home

After the meeting concluded, those on the bus toured a unique farm homestead near Delafield that featured an 18th-century New England house that had been disassembled and moved to the site in rural Wisconsin.

Many thanks to President Schauer for arranging a truly memorable annual meeting trip for FWHS members!

– Brad Steinmetz

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