January 2014 Newsletter

January, 2014  ­­                                                                                 Volume 11, No. 3


Free Workshop on Care and Preservation of Textiles

When:             Saturday, January 25th

Time:              9:00—11:00 a.m.

Where:           Depot Museum

On Saturday, January 25th, 9-11AM, our Society President, Ellen Penwell, who has served as the curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin for the past 18 years, will conduct a FREE public workshop in the Depot Museum on the care and preservation of textiles. Space is limited so reservations are required. We can accept as many as 15 participants. Anyone who would like to help with our vast textile collection (and we do need help!) should sign up for this training. 


The workshop will examine what causes historic textiles to deteriorate, offer practical solutions on how to safely ensure their long-term preservation, and provide helpful handouts and samples of archival products. Techniques to be shared include controlled freezing for pest infestations, vacuuming, wet cleaning, and appropriate storage options. Participants are encouraged to bring in examples of family heirloom clothing, quilts, coverlets or other vintage textiles to share with the group.


To make reservations: please contact Ellen Penwell by phone (262-203-6529) or by e-mail ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) by January 20th.



On the last page of the newsletter you will find a form and a return envelope for membership renewals. The society needs your continued support to keep operations going each year.  Our budget for essential services runs between $2,000 and $4,000 per year and includes heating and cooling costs, insurance coverage, web site fees, exhibit expenses, and office expenses.  Please take a minute to fill out and return the membership form.  Thank you for your support!


Buy-A-Brick Update

Updates were recently mailed out to individuals who purchased commemorative bricks, some more than a year ago, that constituted our second order. These bricks were received at the city garage last summer but were not laid before winter weather set in due to busy scheduling in the City of Whitewater Department of Public Works. We are submitting a very small third order for bricks this month. This order should arrive in spring and our plan is to have both orders laid at the same time. We extend our appreciation to everyone who supported the Depot restoration through the purchase of bricks. Thank you for your generous support of our mission and for your extraordinary patience.


Museum Hours

The depot museum is now open again after the holiday break.  The following hours are in effect until late spring, when open hours will be expanded.  It has been a rough winter so far, so it is possible that there will be last minute closures due to snow, ice, or seriously cold weather.  Thanks to our intrepid group of volunteers who will be braving the elements to keep the depot open in the upcoming months. 


            Hours:  Fridays, 10:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m.

                          Saturdays, 1:00--4:00 p.m.

                          Sundays, 1:00--4:00 p.m.



Reinstalling Collections to the Museum

Since the depot was re-opened last spring, one of the main challenges has been to bring back the collections.  Since last spring, the museum’s collections have been gradually brought back and organized in our new storage areas. While tedious and time-consuming, this is an important step to make sure artifacts are well-preserved and easily accessible for future use.    


Collections that have been returned so far include all of the 4,000-plus images owned by the society; the hundreds of manuscript artifacts the society owns, such as printed memorabilia, calendars, and pamphlets; and subject and administrative files. 


The museum’s large collection of textiles, which Ellen Penwell meticulously organized and inventoried during the museum’s closure, have been returned and the museum’s book collection; primarily textbooks, bibles, and reference books, has also been returned and reorganized. 


Now the artifacts are coming back. A numbered shelving system along with placement of artifacts in subject categories will make accessing them for exhibits so much easier.  And, each item that comes back is being updated in the museum’s computerized inventory so that volunteers can efficiently locate them now and in the future.


Museum Intern. Assisting this effort last fall was UWW public history student Leah Penzkover, who has primarily been working with the inventory data base, adding new accessions and updating items that are being returned.  Leah has been volunteering a few hours a week, but next semester she will have a for-credit internship and will work around 10 hours per week.  As artifacts are returned, Leah will organize them into subject areas, house them in numbered boxes and/or on numbered shelves and update the inventory.  The goal is to have all artifacts, except for very large items, returned to the depot and properly stored by summer.    


Recognition from the Wisconsin Historical Society. The society’s approach to improving the depot museum got a much-needed “pat-on-the-back” recently when a member of the society’s board of directors was approached by Wisconsin Historical Society planners of next year’s state-wide local history and preservation conference.  The planners have asked the Whitewater Historical Society to give a presentation on the renovation of the depot museum, reorganizing and storing our collections, and updating exhibits.  They said, “Your society is MILES ahead of other local historical societies in updating its museum.”  Although progress sometimes seems achingly slow to us, the Whitewater Historical Society is apparently on the right track, and needless to say, we will be happy to share our ideas with others.  


Third Annual “Whitewater Collects” Slated for March 15

Once again, local collector and Whitewater Historical Society board member Alan Marshall is planning the “Whitewater Collects” event for the society’s March program.  This event, to be held at the Cravath Lakefront Pavilion from 1-4 p.m. on March 15, is an opportunity for people to display their collection of Whitewater memorabilia or other small antique collections to the public.  Among the collections already planned for display are pre-1950 toys, Borden milk advertising, and old tin store advertising.  The depot museum will also present recently donated artifacts at its “the museum collects” table. 


This year, the event will feature an antiques appraiser who will appraise your special collectable at no charge.  If you are interested in showing a collection at this event, please contact Alan Marshall at 262-473-3221 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Whitewater Historical Society

Membership Renewal Form


Membership Level:                                         Name ____________________________________


Student           $6        __________                Address  __________________________________


Individual       $15      __________                __________________________________________

                                                                            City                             State                Zip

Family             $25      __________               


Over 65           $10      __________                Phone  ___________________________


Engineer          $50      __________                Email*  __________________________


Conductor       $100    __________                *we never sell or give out email addresses, but

                                                                        would like them for special events notification

Agent              $500    __________   


Donation                     __________                Please use the envelope provided or send to:


TOTAL Enclosed:      __________                Whitewater Historical Society

                                                                        P. O. Box 149

                                                                        Whitewater, WI  53190


Membership fees and donations to the Whitewater Historical Society are fully tax deductible.


Whitewater Historical Society

P. O. Box 149

Whitewater, WI  53190