Learning can be fun! Especially when some of the history of Walworth County is so interesting and comes with great views. Here are five places to start exploring the history of our beautiful county.
Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay has been mapping the universe for 125 years, and it’s finally back open to the public! They have been restoring their beautiful buildings, picturesque grounds, and curating their historical artifacts. Now it’s time for everyone to enjoy the history once again! They have program and event tickets available all summer.
There are a lot of things Delavan is known for – Delavan Lake and the historic brick street Downtown. But perhaps the most unique feature is their historical connection with the circus. In 1847, the proprietors of the U.S. Olympic Circus chose Delavan for their winter quarters. At the time, this was the largest traveling show in America, and from this connection a circus heritage was created. For the next 47 years, more than 25 circuses, with hundreds of clowns and other performers, made their winter quarters in Delavan. The P.T. Barnum Circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” was founded in Delavan in 1871. There are murals, signs, and large animal statues marking this connection throughout the city of Delavan.
Take a cruise to visit one of Geneva Lake’s oldest and most beautiful Victorian estates to learn about the family who originally owned the property. Black Point Estate was built for Chicago Beer Baron Conrad Seipp in 1888 as a retreat. You’ll get to tour the beautiful lakefront property and the Queen Anne-style mansion that includes 20 rooms filled with Victoria furniture.
The Whitewater Historical Society’s local history museum is located inside the historic Whitewater Passenger Train Depot. The museum displays a large local collection of historic artifacts, photographs, and manuscripts. The museum is open to the public between March and December.
If you like Civil War history, head to Elkhorn where you can tour the Webster House. The museum is a well-maintained white clapboard house filled with Civil War and Victorian period items. Joseph Philbrick Webster, a famous composer, once owned the home that played an important part of history in Elkhorn. The building originally served as the federal land grant office, selling land to Walworth County pioneers before Wisconsin became a state in 1848. It was also used for court cases by a district judge until a real courthouse was constructed.
What other historical sites have you visited in Walworth County?