In 1937, the
Washington County Historical Association bought the Ft. Calhoun
State Bank building for use as a museum. The purchase was made
largely with money left from funds donated by the public in 1919
for the celebration of the centennial of Fort Atkinson. A generous patron of the Association made up the
for lands and buildings for museum use since that time has
been made from funds acquired through legacies, memorials and
gifts by friends of the Association. The one-tenth mill levy
voted by the County in November, 1966, later revised to
three-tenths of a cent per $100 valuation, has assured help in
Gallery has been set up to show the footprint of the Ft.
Calhoun State Bank and features artifacts from that business
which operated from 1914 through 1934. Additionally,
displays showcase early pioneer artifacts, dolls and musical
instruments and a special clock room.
The first addition to the museum was the
South Gallery which was completed in 1968. It houses
pre-historic artifacts, Native American dress and hand work and relics of Fort Atkinson.
Children especially enjoy the hands-on "dig-box" where they can
unearth early fossil specimens.
second addition to the museum occurred in the 1970s and houses an
early pioneer kitchen as well as the Association's library and
addition was the North Gallery in 1990. This gallery houses
a variety of exhibits ranging from early telephone equipment to
fine China to World War I toys. The "Touch Table" allows
children to experience the sights and sounds of earlier times.
The museum houses a collection of photographs
and documents which may be accessed by the staff for research.
For preservation purposes, many of the
artifacts are displayed for limited time periods thus minimizing
the artifact's environmental damage and allowing the visitor to
see some different items on each visit. The public is
invited to browse among the exhibits, read the legends explaining
the displays and ask questions of the staff on this, their journey
into the land of yesteryear.