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Waupun Heritage Museum

22 S Madison Street


For fifty years, Waupun's Carnegie Library has been home to the Waupun Heritage Museum.  Our collection began in the basement when it served as the Waupun Public Library.  Around 1910, a small collection of fossils and Civil War relics was put on display in a vacant corner.  Decades later, an overcrowded library was looking to find a new home for the museum which, by that point, was occupying an entire room.  

In 1956, the Waupun Historical Society was established, and the collection went into storage.  When a new library was built in 1968, the old Carnegie Library became the Education Service Center for the Waupun School District, and served that purpose for three years until October of 1971 when the City leased it to the Society for $1 per year.

The Historical Society spent 2020 completely emptying, cleaning, and revamping the entire building!  Fresh exhibits describe local history, influential events, and treasured stories from Waupun's past.  The Society and the City are working in partnership to preserve and restore the 1904 Carnegie Library, which has retained much of its original charm.




An Artifact in & of Itself

Waupun is home to the second-oldest library association in Wisconsin.  The Hillyer Library was a collection of books in a law office in downtown Waupun.  In 1903, a letter was sent to Andrew Carnegie, who was funding public libraries across the country.  Waupun received $10,000 and the community was able to provide another large sum to the project.  Construction began in 1904, and the Waupun Free Public Library opened in 1905.

     

     


    Once you step inside, you can choose your own adventure! The main floor features indigenous artifacts dating back thousands of years. This collection of tools and points illustrate the prominence of the Ho-Chunk Nation before Western encroachment brought disease and assimilation west of the Appalachians.

The main floor also features relics from Waupun's early history involving occupants of European descent, development of the education system in Waupun, and the story of Clarence Shaler and Waupun's many beautiful sculptures.  

     Our volunteers will happily point out their favorite artifacts with so many stories and memories from a time gone by.

 

     The garden level in the Heritage Museum features two main rooms.  First, the Business & Industry room details the development of commerce in the Waupun area.  It highlights Waupun's significant contributions to the state and national economies, such as Johnson's Photography Studio and the Wisconsin State Prison.

     The second room is the Military Memorial room, paying respect to those who served their country from Waupun and the surrounding region.  Some of the earliest pieces in our collection were donated in the early 1900s from Waupun's Civil War veterans and their families.  Waupun's key role in World War II is a focal point in this space. 

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