September 2012 Newsletter

September, 2012  ­­                                                                                     Volume 10, No. 1

NEXT MEETING: behind-the-scenes at the Depot restoration


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

7:00 p.m. program

Place:  Cravath Lakefront Building

            Whitewater Street, Go Under the Arch and Left


Depot Restoration and State/National Register Listing: 

The depot restoration began in July; come and see how the restoration is going.  The society will celebrate the on-going work on the Depot restoration project and the recent listing of the building in the State Register of Historic Places at the next meeting.  Here is a hint:


Old closet and bathroom and new bathroom and staircase:


Come to the meeting to see more!!


Although the depot has been an official local landmark and museum for decades, it was never listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places, the state and nation’s listing of  significant architectural and historical sites.  On August 24, the nomination of the depot to these lists was presented to the State Historic Preservation Review Board at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.  Upon approval of the board, the depot was immediately listed in the State Register, with listing in the National Register to come by the end of the year. 


At the program next Wednesday, nomination preparer Carol Cartwright will give the power point presentation she gave August 24th and will discuss the architectural and historical significance of the depot.  She will also give a presentation on how the restoration work is being done on the building.  



The restoration of the depot is going smoothly.  The tuck-pointing of the exterior brick and stone has been completed and workers are moving ahead with the wood repair and painting of the large overhang and brackets.  The first set of repaired windows is due to be returned any day, and the large entry doors have been removed for repair, as well.  Things are happening fast on the interior, but you will have to come to the meeting to see the details!



The society will have the grand re-opening of the depot building in April, but as soon as we can get into the building, we will start some open hours.  The society plans to have permanent open hours throughout the year at least one day every week, including winter, and will plan additional hours using volunteers and UWW public history student interns.  We will also plan on opening the museum for special events at the lakefront park just as we did prior to the closure for the renovation.  We hope to become an active part of Whitewater’s downtown activities, as well.



Because the society would like to have the depot open for at least one day per week throughout the year and maybe more, we have a crucial need for volunteer docents.  The work will be pleasant in the newly renovated building and with the extra space down in the basement to organize our collections and materials, there will be an ample opportunity for volunteers to have a hands-on role in working on displays or history research.  A few members have indicated they are interested, but we need more!  One idea that has been suggested is that four people get together to work one morning or one afternoon shift only once a month.  One person works the first week, one the second week, etc.  That would mean that the commitment would be minimal, but we would have a morning or afternoon filled every month.  Please email Carol at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 262-473-6820 if you are interested in volunteering. 



The society has some great programs planned for the year.  Our first program is on the depot itself, but the rest of the year we have interesting and varied events:


November:  Historic Taverns in Wisconsin.  Speaker:  Jim Draeger of the Wisconsin

                        Historical Society will present his new book on historic taverns.  Jim is also

                        the author of a book on historic gas stations and appears in the gas station

                        documentary that you may have seen on Wisconsin Public Television.

January:    Whitewater Collects and Appraisal Fair.  Our own collector, Alan Marshall is

                        coordinating this event that will include an appraisal fair.  Maybe you have a

                        hidden treasure in your attic!

April:        Grand re-opening of the depot and local history museum.  See the first exhibit on

                        the railroad and Whitewater, see the Esterly Seeder, back in Whitewater for the

                        first time in more than 30 years!  Raffles, speakers, fun!!

May:         Its spring and baseball is in the air.  We are planning a program on local baseball;

                        Kachel’s Kids, Home Talent League and more.  We are still planning this, so if

                        you have any ideas, let us know.



Back in June, several members of the board of the Whitewater Historical Society attended the auction of local collector Russ Fero.  We were happy to support this life-estate auction for Russ, who is now in assisted living care and to acquire some interesting items for our collections.  Here are some of the things we were lucky enough to have the high bid on.


  • Whitewater Brewery and Marhank soda wooden cases.  We have a good bottle collection from the old Whitewater Brewery and other soda water bottles.  Now we have a couple of wooden cases to enhance the interpretation of these items.
  • Hawthorne-Mellody Home Delivery Container.  Maybe some of you remember the old metal boxes on porches used for home milk delivery and most of us probably remember the old Hawthorne-Mellody milk plant.  Whitewater has a long history of commercial milk production and we have some great bottles in our collection.  Now we have a container that helps tell the story of home delivery of milk products from local dairies.
  • Advertising Pieces.  Local businesses have and still do create interesting advertising pieces, from pens and pencils to calendars.  Russ had a great collection of these items and we obtained a large and varied sample of his collection.  These items will be a great help in interpreting the history of Whitewater businesses. 
  • Corn Knife and Esterly Tool Box.  These two items, made in Whitewater, relate to the agricultural equipment industry that flourished in the 19th century.  The Esterly company was the largest of these industries, but artifacts are hard to obtain and expensive, as they are highly prized by collectors.  The tool box was made for placing on Esterly harvesting machine equipment or seeders and illustrates the broad range of items the company produced.  The corn knife came from a small, local manufacturer and it also shows the wide range of items produced for farmers in Whitewater’s factories and shops.
  • Milwaukee Road Luggage Tags.  Although the depot was the long-time home for the Milwaukee Road (Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad), the museum has little railroad memorabilia.  Railroad items are widely collected and are expensive to get from collectors. The society bidders were, perhaps, lucky that the old tags were stamped with the formal C M & St. P railroad ID and not the popular “Milwaukee Road” name that came later. The auctioneer also mis-identified the tags as coming from the “Minneapolis” railroad.  But, society members knew better—so we got these items with little trouble.  This set of tags, probably from the turn of the twentieth century, will be a nice artifact for our first new exhibit next spring—the railroad and Whitewater.
  • Paper memorabilia.  The society members were successful bidders on some paper memorabilia that they felt were important for historical research or display reasons.  One of these items was the sheet music “Whitewater Normal March,” written during the heyday of the Whitewater Normal School (UWW).  Another item was a scrapbook of local newspaper clippings.  Reading years of old newspapers is a long and tedious task so old scrapbooks of clippings can be an important short-cut for local research.


This was the society’s first attempt to actively pursue items to enhance our collections, but it may not be the last.  We depend on donations for our collections as we have limited funds, but in this case, the society board was glad to get some important artifacts and to support long-time collector Russ Fero. 


Whitewater Historical Society Newsletter

c/o Carol Cartwright

W7746 Hackett Rd.

Whitewater, WI  53190