West Grand Avenue Buildings Razed – Photos

captured by Angelica Engel, Website Coordinator, on September 20, 2018

The building depicted in each of these photos is the old Church’s Drug Store.

From September 18th’s Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:  “The Church’s Drug Store building is another staple on the [Theater] block. It ran as Key City Hotel from 1884 to the early 1900s. Sam Church then ran it as a drug store from 1904 until it closed in 1993. The building became a video archery business called Boone’s Archery in 2000 and then Bowe’s Archery in 2001.”

The pile of rubble used to be the Book World building, and possibly also the Palace Theater building (which in more recent years housed the Central Wisconsin Cultural Center).

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End of the 2018 season is upon us

Please note that Sunday, September 2nd is the final day of this season.

We will be open from 1 – 4 p.m.

Thank you for all of those who have visited! We appreciate it.

Have a great Labor Day!

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Our Ancestry Test Results: 50 Shades of White

written by Angelica Engel, SWCHC Website Coordinator

My parents, Dave and Kathy Engel, recently received the results of their Ancestry.com DNA heritage test. Because both of them took it, I have all the relevant information about my own heritage. No need for me to take the test! In the future, scientists may develop a more precise procedure that could yield more specific information and perhaps I would participate in that.

My mother received specific results that showed we have relatives in Ulster, Ireland, as well as among the Pennsylvania Dutch, who are actually German. My father’s results yielded nothing this specific, simply “Europe West,” “Europe East” and “The Low Countries.”

When I told my coworker Ben about our results, he, a white person of Swiss and Irish heritage, said, “Oh, so 50 shades of white.” True, no one had brown skin, no African, no Native American, not even Asian or Jewish. My sister Elly has felt strongly that we must be at least a little bit Jewish, but these results would seem to declare otherwise.

Drawn to the Ulster result, I read a bit of a book called “The Red Branch Tales” about ancient Ireland. It’s a translation of the myths of the Ulster Cycle. Alcohol abuse and sudden war-related deaths are the main themes. Women are portrayed as cunning leaders who use their womanhood as bait in many circumstances that result in them attaining power. It is difficult to avoid pondering the violent acquisition of other people’s land and resources by Western and Northern Europeans. What role did my distant relatives play in this narrative?

A big surprise in my mom’s ancestry came in the form of “Scandinavia 32%.” No one in her family seems to have known this. Ostensibly, through the aforementioned warlike tendencies, Scandinavians may have intermixed with her “Ireland/Scotland/Wales” or her “Europe West” long before anyone emigrated to the United States, thus losing the thread of the narrative.

For me, the Scandinavian aspect of my lineage paints some of my college friendships in a different light. For example, my freshman year roommate Drew had already been to Sweden by the time I met her, and would travel there frequently over the next two years to visit her Swedish boyfriend. She had met him when he was a foreign exchange student at her high school. Eventually Drew left the Swedish boyfriend for an American who had studied abroad in Oslo, Norway. Drew also had a friend who studied in Helsinki, Finland. For my part, I dated a guy who had studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and who was about to return there for another semester after which he, too, studied in Helsinki.

You would think by this point that I would have been to at least one of these countries. Maybe if I had known I have ancestors from there, I would have gone already. Which Scandinavian country did they come from, though? Sometimes scientific tests create more mysteries.

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1931 Lincoln High School Posters on Display

Prior to the closing of the 1931 LHS / East Junior High School building, Sandy Nugent made poster boards outlining each of the decades in its history.

Until the Museum closes for the season in September, the boards from 1930 through the late 1970s will be on display.

If you were unable to attend the Open Houses, please stop down and enjoy her hard work.

LHS posters at East Jr. High now at Museum for public viewing


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2018 Garden Walk July 21st


Saturday July 21, 2018

Six beautiful gardens in Wisconsin Rapids will be featured. Six local artists will display their talents and offer their creations for sale. Our artists and artisans this year include a beekeeper offering premium honey from local sources, beeswax skin products and handmade soaps; locally harvested maple syrup; painters of canvas, porcelain, even, deer skulls; photographers; and  beaded jewelry.  Art in the Garden Boutique will offer gently used garden items, books, and magazines as well as new, hand made garden art and accessories.

Tickets are available from any Wood County Master Gardener Volunteer, at each featured garden the day of the walk, including the South Wood County Historical Museum.

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History Goof

Another awesome local history magazine: Artifacts #53 from the South Wood County Historical Museum.

But beware page 15.

The photo at top does not show the vocational addition as stated—but 1931 Lincoln High School being built. Behind it stands not the Witter school but, in its last days, the 1903 Lincoln building, also pictured on p. 13.

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Museum Open for the Summer! — Our Hours

written by Alison Bruener, Museum Assistant

Blooming apple trees and lilacs can only mean one thing here at 540 Third Street South:  the South Wood County Historical Museum is open for visitors!

Our hours from Memorial Day through Labor Day:  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Please join us for the Museum’s Ice Cream Social on June 16th from 11 am to 3 pm!

Below are some photos of previous exhibits, our museum gardens (maintained by the Master Gardeners of Wood County) and past ice cream socials.

This black and white image is from 1973, when the Museum was first open. We have since changed the layout of the Country Store exhibit, which is still available to the public.

This colored photo is of Dr. Lee Pomainville looking through the Doctor’s Office exhibit in 1973. Visitors this year will see a greater focus on local medical history.

This image is from the 2010 Ice Cream Social

Cranberry Court

Over the winter months, we freshened up exhibits, completed building maintenance and printed tour programs. We hope to see you soon!

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Photos of Former Lincoln High School & East Junior High Building

Compiled by Kathy Engel, SWCHC Librarian

The Wisconsin Rapids Public School District will discontinue the use of the East Junior High School building. Here are pictures from the past 115 years.

The original Lincoln High School was built in 1903, on the current site of East Junior High School.

1931 Lincoln High School

The aerial photo shows Lincoln High School in about 1970. The Wood County Normal School, right (formerly the Teacher Training School) was torn down in 1978. In 1979, the Witter building, center, was demolished.

The building became East Junior high in 1979.

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Former Board Member Passes Away

Francis “Bud” Daly, age 89, of Wisconsin Rapids, died Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at Our House Senior Living on 12th Street, Wisconsin Rapids.

A memorial service will be held in June of 2018. A complete obituary will appear at that time in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.

Ritchay Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Published in Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Feb. 2, 2018.

Daly was a former SWCHC Board member.

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Communal Neglect: More buildings bite the dust

Four photos by David Farmbrough show old houses in Wisconsin Rapids before they were razed.

621 Saratoga Street, Wisconsin Rapids The fine old “farmhouse,” first on that block, was probably built in the 1880s. Neglected for years, tenants and landlord allowed sewage to flood the ground floor and the city demolished it in 2012.

Civil War era house from 1st Street North, Wisconsin Rapids. The city demolished it in 2012, in spite of its good condition and historical importance.

Another Civil War era house from 1st Street North, Wisconsin Rapids, also seen at left in previous photo. The city demolished this house in 2012.

The Love House, or Lamplight Inn, built when railroads arrived in 1872, was demolished in November 2016. (Note that (Uncle) Dave Engel obtained the Lamplight Inn sign when the bar of that name closed.)

Posted in Dave Engel, David Farmbrough, Local history, photos | Tagged , , | 3 Comments