"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
We are always looking for a new way to celebrate our country’s birthday. This year, we went to The Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums to celebrate! This place has been on our bucket list for several years so we took this opportunity to go!
We arrived just before the museum opened. We did the mine tour first before it got more crowded. Join us on the tour, led by a young man named Garrison. It was sure fun! It was also much cooler inside the mine than outside and it felt good!
After the tour, we rode the mine train, join us!
There was just as much excitement going on inside of the museum building. The Music and Schoolroom had many working music machines of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
We heard a Regina music box, cylinder music boxes, mini-organs and such. Even a player piano. Hear and see them below!
Al and I were in Verona, gathering photos for a blog post. We took a look at the businesses and buildings in town and discovered this. The Matts House in Verona, Wisconsin was vacant at that time and deemed an eyesore. It was one of the last historic buildings in town, built in the 1840’s. The only other building that is historic that is left is the Cahoots Bar, a former Stagecoach stop.
In my photo, you could see a sign that the house was for free to anyone who could get rid of it. Thank goodness, nobody took up the offer.
We were shocked to see this and hoped somebody would save the house before possible demolition.
Two years pass. Building Rehabilitation Specialist Troy Rost persuaded the city alders to sell him the house for $1. Troy also restored the Stamm House in Middleton as well. He promised to have the house ready for occupation within two years. Read the article about this development here. Also here.
October 19, 2017
The renovation was well underway at this point, we stopped by to take an interim picture of the house.
We attended a meeting in Verona that day called “What’s Up at the Matts House?” Here is a video of the meeting you can also watch. It outlines the history of the house and showed some renovation photos. Troy Rost himself was the presenter.
The building renovation is finished on schedule. Now, the next task is to find a tenant. The Purple Goose women’s boutique store jumped at the chance to move to this beautiful historical building. This was their building in 2017.
On October 13 of 2018, they reopened in their new building to an enthusiastic crowd. I was able to see it for myself on October 22nd. Very impressive!
This beautiful door is possibly from one of the previous businesses here, they kept it and it looks beautiful!
To the right of the register, step through the doorway for some beauty time at Makeup by Francesca. I am not skilled at all with makeup application. I will come here if I need her help! Francesca Clemente will bring out your best features to look your best, whatever the occasion!
Everyone interested in seeing the Matts House is welcome during business hours at The Purple Goose. The citizens of Verona are grateful this beautiful building was saved for all to enjoy. Thank you, Troy Rost, for taking charge and turning this dream into reality!
We had just recently heard the news that Yerkes Observatory will be closing on October 1st of this year and knew we had to hurry back to take another tour before they ended. The news had just been announced a week or two earlier.
My first visit was actually in 6th grade in February 1977. Here is a picture I took then.
We went together for the first time in 2012. Richard Dreiser has been giving almost all of the tours since 1980, 38 years! Six years later, he said he remembered us and was happy to see us again. He is really nice and we will miss him. He is writing a book though about Yerkes so we look forward to getting that when it’s published.
It wasn’t really crowded since the news only just came out about the closure a week or so earlier. We heard that the tour groups in September were quite large. We could look around the hallway shortly before the tour started.
The back of the hallway was cordoned off, it wasn’t in 2012. Let’s see what is back there.
Richard began by showing some beautiful photos taken by the Yerkes telescope and others in the hallway adjacent to the lobby.
After discussing these photos, we then moved out to the lobby. It is quite beautiful, decorated with terracotta accents, marble floor and a skylight in the ceiling. The light fixtures are original too. The building was officially opened in 1897.
Under the skylight.
Richard pointed out the many features in the decorative artwork of the building in the lobby area. Faces, angels, and owls abound!
We then moved outside, where Richard pointed out the many distinguishing features in the artwork on the columns and above the door. Art is everywhere at this building, something you don’t see anymore.
Then, we went back in and concluded the tour at the big telescope. We could not go up on the platform on this visit.
Yerkes had been visited by many scientists, including Albert Einstein in this group photo taken in the 20’s.
We all got a special treat that most people don’t get to see, the dome rotating (see video at 48:33). He went to the console on the right side of the dome and made the adjustments.
Laurie Kutil 2012
Our tour came to a conclusion 10 minutes later, Richard spent the remaining time answering questions. Went back down the stairs.
Saw the library and stopped in the gift shop.
Our visit concluded here. We are sad this valuable resource is no longer a part of the University in Chicago. However, it may reopen again at later date under new ownership. I will update this post if this happens. We hope Richard will be hired to continue his excellent tours. Meanwhile, enjoy the video of the original tour.
The last time we were in Columbus for July 4th was in 2012 so we decided to go back. The parade started at noon and it was wonderful! It lasted nearly two hours. The Parade Marshalls. (click to enlarge)
Watch it here.
After the parade we headed to Fireman’s Park where all of the festivities were taking place. There was a carnival also, Mr. Ed’s Magical Midways.
The main attraction that drew us here was the First Brigade Band from Watertown. They were in the parade. They are a Civil War-era band, complete with instruments that were played in the 1860’s. We knew about them but never saw them perform before. See them below.
At this point, rain was threatening. The next show was Ballet Folkloriko Mexico. They were also really good, but it began to rain half-way through their performance and they had to cut it short. They had someone also getting video, but they had to stop because of the rain. I held my hat over my camera to keep it dry! You can see my video below.
And that was the conclusion of our July 4th celebration in Columbus. We had a wonderful time here today! Let freedom ring!
Our last old-fashioned picture was in 2008, also on Broadway but not here. It was at Professor Samuel S. Porter’s Old-Time Portraits.
To treat ourselves for our 19th wedding anniversary that occurred the day before, we arranged to get a tintype picture at the famous H.H. Bennett Studio on Broadway in the Wisconsin Dells. Our Photographer was David Rambow, expert in wet-plate photography since 2001. He is also Site Director for Wisconsin Historic Sites under the umbrella of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. We booked it well in advance at the H.H. Bennett website, deposit is $50. From there you can choose your package and complete your payment during your sitting.
We arrived at 10:30 for our 11 AM sitting, ready to be impressed! I had picked out clothing we had that looked sufficiently “period”, late 1800’s. My lace collar that I wore over my blouse was crocheted by my Grandma Tauchen when they were in style in the 1980’s!
Dave greeted us warmly and invited us to the very studio where Bennett made the Dells famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is how the backdrop looks in color.
Behind the chairs are head braces to help you hold still while the picture is taken. This is a long exposure photo. The darker the studio, the longer the exposure. Since it was a bright sunny day, it only took 6 seconds.
Photographer Robert Squires was there too and documented our visit. Thanks for the great photo! He got a picture of Dave installing the prepared wet plate into the camera. It takes 3-minutes to get it camera-ready after exposure to the chemicals. There is no going back once it is preparing!
Dave graciously allowed us to shoot video of getting our photo “struck” so we could show everyone how it’s done! See it below.
We had a great time doing this amazing photo, and they said Al looked like a Civil War vet. We were sent a digital copy ahead of the photo that would be sent in the mail to us.
On August 1st we received our photo in the mail. It was varnished to help protect it from scratches. It was beautiful! On the back was David’s info about the photo.
Also some information on how the photo was made.
I already had a frame to put the photo into that looked good with it.
Don’t pass up your opportunity to get a tintype photo taken by David at THE H.H. Bennett Studio!
Today was a special day in the Village of Oregon. Oregon is a big believer in preserving their heritage and history. They proved that again by not tearing down their historic “Tin Man” water tower. Instead, they chose to restore it and light it up! Tonight is the inaugural lighting of this Oregon landmark. The Pump House below the tower was previously restored and now the tower is too! It was also open that evening.
Before that, it was time to enjoy a concert by the Oregon Community Band. It takes place at Waterman Triangle Park downtown. They have entertained Oregon since 1981. Jim Baxter is the current Conductor.
Enjoy the concert too! At the end of the show, the Tin Man Water Tower’s lights were turned on for the first time!
A beautiful evening in Oregon, Wisconsin. This community preserves their history in a way that all can enjoy.
Nestled within the 102 4th Avenue Retail Center on the Baraboo Square is the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center. The museum’s Executive Director, Greg DeSanto, made this valuable resource a reality in Baraboo on May 21, 2010. He saved this museum, the artifacts were in storage for four years after it failed in Milwaukee. It originally was in Delavan, also a circus town. We met him on our visit, such a funny guy! Not surprising, since he is also a clown, along with his wife, Karen. Learn more about Greg here.
Since we were here for the Big Top Circus Parade, learning more about the history of clowns was a great addition to the day. We could tell by the festive appearance of the doorway it was going to be a fun visit!
Tours are conducted daily at 2:00 PM June through August.
Winter Hours: From September through May we are open by appointment only.
Admission: $8.00 Adults $5.00 Children Under 12
See our tour here, conducted by Toto Johnson in 2019.
Toto began the tour by introducing the three kinds of clowns.
Inside is a large room with displays dedicated to famous clown past and almost present. Displays change often as they got donations of artifacts.
On our visit in 2017, Sandy Weber conducted the tour. He also designed the beautiful signage you see throughout the museum. He covered topics like the clown’s roles in history and pointed out the artifacts from their performance days. Most artifacts have been donated by family members of each clown.
Toto Johnson was our guide in 2019, his anecdotes really made the tour special! He had the full attention of the kids on the tour! Toto is on the museum’s Board of Directors and his enthusiasm is contagious! In the photo, he’s telling the kids about the clown car and how as a young clown in the 1980s, he had to be the first one inside the car. The highest-ranked clown stayed outside, their role was to open and close the door! They never had to even had to get in. He worked for the Ringling Brothers in 1986, after graduation. Toto attended the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown Collegein 1985 and a documentary was made. The video plays on a screen at the museum.
Click to enlarge.
They also had a great exhibit for Happy the Clown, Jim Williams, formerly of Circus World Museum. I saw him perform there in 1980, my first visit to Circus World Museum. He passed away in 2015 at age 71 😦
Bobo‘s tiny clown car, I don’t know how he got in, he was about 6’3″. He kept that a secret! One good guess is that he began his circus career as a contortionist and used those skills here. Clowns are indeed athletes in makeup!
A short video of Bobo Barnett getting out of his car, complete with luggage and dogs. Amazing!
His daughter, Christiana Barnett-Murphy, has a YouTube channel with more video. She also wrote a book about her experiences of being this famous clown’s daughter.
Speaking of interesting clown vehicles, the bathtub car. It was driven during the Big Top Circus parade!
An important circus secret to preventing infection to cuts is Sea Breeze. Toto told us how they kept this on hand to keep cuts from getting infected.