Discover the Old Courthouse Museum

Published: October 19, 2017 Old Courthouse Museum

In the heart of West Bend you’ll find a beautiful building that played a big role in the community’s rich history. The Old Courthouse Museum, as the name suggests, is located in the former Washington County Courthouse. The 8-story building was in operation between 1890 and 1962, with court in session in the spring and fall. The business of the people of West Bend took place here; in addition to court matters, county offices prepared wills, estates, marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, military papers and other county business. The building’s architecture is magnificent; it’s a Romanesque Revival structure and it features rounded arches, monochromatic brick and stone, towers, spires and dormers.

The building was carefully restored to its original glory in the 1990s and today it houses an important local history museum that tells the story of West Bend,

The exhibits

In the museum, you’ll find nine exhibit rooms that feature information about the people and culture of the region, including the Menominee and Potawatomi, Immigrants, Technology, and World War II. On the second floor you’ll find a restored Circuit Courtroom, Judge’s Chamber, and Attorneys’ Room. Kids will want to see the 27-room Zinn Dollhouse, one of the museum’s largest artifacts, and the 100,000 year-old Trenton Meteorite.

Next to the Old Courthouse Museum is the Old Jailhouse Museum. This brick structure housed county inmates from 1886-1962. The building has been restored and furnished to represent that early time in the county’s justice system.

The location

The Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown West Bend at 320 S. 5th Avenue. It’s open Wednesday-Friday, 11am-5pm and Saturday, 9am-3pm.