|Name Wild Rose Historical Society Museum
Business Type Museum
Location Wild Rose, Wisconsin
Owner/Manager The Keppler Family
Year Opened 1964
Products Sold & Niche Developed
In the early 1850s, Welsh, Norwegian, and English immigrants walked into the wilderness of central Wisconsin that had “never known the mark of an ax.” The Pioneer Museum displays their tools, arts, and crafts while also offering guided tours of the eight building complex: Elisha Stewart House, Smoke House, Gift Shop, Barn and Blacksmith Shop, Carriage House, Pioneer Hall, and Country School.
How it got started
The Museum includes 7 buildings. The Elisha Stewart house was bought from the Keppler family in 1964. The deal included a building that is now a blacksmith shop on one side and a barn on the other side. The old harness shop came along with the property, which houses three sections: a gift shop, a weaving room plus a general store.
Who it serves
Wild Rose Historical Society Museum gives tours in the summer and do school tours in the spring. In addition to serving the local community, they have had visitors from Norway and Australia.
The old Progressive school and smokehouse was moved onto the site. A carriage house was built on the property. The first Wild Rose bank from 1901, later the local post office, was bought when the new Post Office was built. The building now houses a pharmacy, and ice cream parlor as well as Pioneer Hall, which has displays on the 1905 Wild Rose robbery, inventors from the area, as well as flips boards on pictures of people and buildings in the area. The owners paid the village back for the original purchases.
Owners have point tucking Pioneer Hall, adding siding to the gift shop/general store/weaving room building. Additionally, they painted the windows and fixed the roof on Pioneer hall. The Elisha Stewart house received new paint and a new roof. The carriage house, barn/blacksmith shop and school also received a paint job. Lastly, the owners added a cement sidewalk that looks like brick from the back of the house and goes past the school, and weaving room.
Finances have included fundraisers like re-enactments of the 1905 Wild Rose robbery, two different cemetery walks, and ice cream social/ folk music event, brat fry as well as donations from visitors. In addition, they have applied for a grant from the Wisconsin Historical Society this year. The village helped finance some of the building, but was eventually paid back. Lastly, they received some funds from the village from the Tax Incremental Finance district for repairs to Pioneer Hall and split costs on the roof with the village.
Reviewed by Emily Lutz, UW-Extension CCED