January 2016 Newsletter



January, 2016  ­­                                                                        Volume 14, No. 2


NEXT EVENT:             Whitewater Collects

Saturday, March 5, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Cravath Lakefront Building

Appraisals from 2:00-400 p.m.  (limit 2 items)


The 5th Annual Whitewater Collects program gives members of the community an opportunity to display their collection of Whitewater memorabilia or other collectibles.  These could include sports collectibles, dolls, arrowheads, china, or any other collection you might have.  A special display of old advertising tins, tin windup toys dating from pre-1950, and fishing lures will be on site.

 Like last year, the event will include a professional appraiser who will be able to appraise items between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. (limit 2 items, please).

 If you have a collection you would like to display or just want more information, contact Alan Marshall 262-473-3221 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



 Calling all members!!  The society would like to have a bake sale during the Whitewater Collects event.  Please bring cookies, bars, and other treats to the Cravath Lakefront Building at 12:00 noon on March 5.  Bring cookies, bars, brownies, and muffins or cupcakes in bags of 6 or 12. 


Membership Month—Time to Renew


Attached are the materials to renew your historical society membership for 2016 including a membership form and a self-addressed envelope in which to return your dues. 


As usual, we thank you all in advance for your continued support of the Whitewater Historical Society and its local history museum in the historic depot. 


Your Membership and/or Donation Supports:    

  • An important local organization that is part of the cultural institutions in Whitewater with a free local history museum. 


  • Interesting and educational programs.  In 2015, the society held programs on Whitewater’s 19th century pottery industry and the Whitewater Effigy Mounds; held the annual “Whitewater Collects” event, and sponsored a pottery demonstration in conjunction with the museum’s year-long temporary exhibit on Whitewater Pottery.


  • A modern educational experience at the depot museum.  Last summer, the society opened the third temporary exhibit; this time, about 19th century Whitewater Pottery.  Permanent history exhibits continue to grow. 


  • Open hours at the depot museum.  Except for this January, the museum was open every week on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  This summer and fall, the museum was open for the Tuesday City Market, and in the summer, the museum was open on Thursday evenings when there were concerts or children’s activities in Lakefront Park.


Financial Needs: 


  • The historical society has operating costs associated with the museum. The largest costs are for utilities. The City of Whitewater has helped subsidize some of these costs, but that subsidy has been decreased and the organization is now paying almost all of the utility bills for the depot.  Proper heating, air conditioning, and dehumidification are essential to preserving the museum’s collections.


  • Other on-going costs include insurance, internet access (we are looking into free wifi), distributing the newsletter, publicity for programs, and preparation and upkeep of exhibits. 


  • This year, the main door to the stone stable was damaged and due to its deteriorated condition, it needed to be rebuilt (see article below).  The historical society is paying half of this several thousand dollar project.  Next summer, the back door and window coverings will need to be replaced. 



Your memberships and contributions help immensely in meeting the society’s financial needs and keeping the organization viable.




In late summer it was noticed that the main door of the stone stable was damaged.  Working with the City of Whitewater, a carpenter was hired and it was determined that the damage was not the only problem.  The door, which had been on the building for decades even before it was moved to this location, had too much damage and deterioration to be repaired.  It also was not air-tight and did not provide proper security for the building. 

 The carpenter then determined that the old strap hinges were not strong enough for such a large door, which was one of the reasons it was not a tight fit and did not provide proper security for the building.  Since the door and hardware did not appear to be original to the building, research was conducted on what type of door or doors and hardware may have been on a c.1845 building of this type.  It was determined that the building would have probably have had a double door main entrance and would have had much stronger cast-iron hardware. 

 The society, with the approval of the city, contracted with the carpenter to build a period-appropriate two-door entrance and to subcontract with a historic blacksmith to make replicas of mid-19th century cast-iron hardware for the doors.  The carpenter also boarded up the main entrance to make it secure for the winter. 

 The doors are complete and waiting for the hardware to be fabricated.  Installation will take place this spring. 


In assessing the damage to the main door, it was noted that the back door and wooden shutters on some of the windows had also deteriorated and were not secure.  The society expects that during the summer, it will work again with the city to replace these details so that the building will be secure and much more weather-tight. 




After a review of the three years that the depot has been open for visitors during the winter months, it was determined that there were almost no visitors during the month of January.  It was also noted that most local history museums were closed at this time. The board of directors decided to close the museum during this month to give volunteers a break and to regroup before the new year’s activities.  The depot museum’s regular hours will be resumed in February.  They are: 

Fridays: 10-1

Saturdays: 1-4

Sundays: 1-4


Freeze Fest

 On Saturday, February 13th, Cravath Lakefront Park will be the scene of Freeze Fest.  As usual, a Chili cook-off is planned along with the polar plunge for Special Olympics.  The depot museum will be open early that day, at 11:00 a.m. and will be open through the festivities.  Come see the brave people taking the polar plunge, then stop in and warm up at the museum! 




A number of interesting donations came into the depot museum this last year, including old Whitewater bottles, house plans, post cards and photos, and other Whitewater-related memorabilia.  One of the most interesting collections was a set of correspondence between the Whitewater depot agent and the Milwaukee Road’s main offices during the 1930s and early 1940s. 

 This collection offers a fascinating look at the day to day operations of a small town depot.  Most of the correspondence is related to paying claims for damaged goods shipped on the rail line from Whitewater, but also includes some memos about installing an extra phone line and kids playing in the coal shed.   

 This collection would be very helpful to anyone doing research on the railroad during this time.


 Whitewater Historical Society

P. O. Box 149

Whitewater, WI  53190