Ready to roll

Construction nearing completion and exhibit installation begins at Wade House Visitor Center & Jung Carriage Museum


This stagecoach is being handcrafted at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop in Letcher, S.D., for an interactive display in the new Visitor Center at Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush. This is an authentic reproduction of the type of Concord Coach that was a common sight in the 1850s traversing the plank road between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac. — Submitted photo This stagecoach is being handcrafted at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop in Letcher, S.D., for an interactive display in the new Visitor Center at Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush. This is an authentic reproduction of the type of Concord Coach that was a common sight in the 1850s traversing the plank road between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac. — Submitted photo GREENBUSH - A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, marked the official beginning of construction of a new 38,000-square-foot Visitor Center and Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum at Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush.

This month, 15 months after the ceremonial groundbreaking event, the project’s general contractor, C.D. Smith Construction of Fond du Lac, will turn the keys to the new Visitor Center and Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum over to Wade House Director David Simmons. This symbolic event will mark the closure of the construction phase of the new facility and the beginning of the installation of exhibits.


Wheels are being handcrafted at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop in Letcher, S.D., for a reproduction stagecoach, which will be interactively displayed at the new Visitor Center at Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush. — Submitted photo Wheels are being handcrafted at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop in Letcher, S.D., for a reproduction stagecoach, which will be interactively displayed at the new Visitor Center at Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush. — Submitted photo For more than two years, Museum Design Associates of Massachusetts has been working with staff of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Uihlein-Wilson Architects, and Department of State Facilities staff to design and develop orientation exhibits as well as displays for the Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum.

The rich array of exhibits will introduce visitors to 19th–century Wisconsin settlement, the world of plank road stagecoach travel, and the broader realm of horse-drawn transportation that defined the work, travel, and leisure experiences of the state’s residents during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Last month, as construction workers continued to put the finishing touches on the new Visitor Center, exhibit fabricators, Triad Creative Group of Brookfield began on-site installation of the exhibits. On-site work has begun on painted murals, and false front buildings and other three-dimensional exhibit elements will soon be installed.

The permanent orientation exhibits will be engaging and will provide an orientation to the site’s themes.

For instance, when guests enter the new Visitor Center they will immediately be drawn into an orientation space, which has a reproduction stagecoach as its main focal point. Visitors will be encouraged to climb aboard the stagecoach, which is one of two reproduction vehicles in the exhibitions that visitors will be invited to climb upon.

The other areas of the multi-tiered orientation gallery will be interactive and will have photos and wall panels, which will provide contextual background for a visit to the site and share stories that are not easily shared in the site’s historic buildings.

Museum Design Associates has also designed the exhibits for the 20,000 square foot Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum, located in the lower level of the new facility. Modern interpretation methods such as videos and interactive kiosks will bring the Wade House Historic Site’s remarkable carriage collections to life.

Among the treasures of the collection are small and large commercial vehicles, firefighting equipment, omnibuses, hearses, breaks, sleighs, coaches, buggies, runabouts, and children’s vehicles. Interpretation will compare and contrast our lives today with an era when horse-drawn transportation was a common way to travel.

Permanent exhibits in the carriage museum will feature vehicles grouped by theme to illustrate the various types and uses of horsedrawn vehicles. The space will encourage visitors to use all their senses when interacting with the exhibits.

The multitiered orientation gallery and carriage museum are two major components of the visitor center and will provide orientation to the site and its themes. Prior to boarding a horse-drawn vehicle and traveling “back in time” through the woods and over the Mullet River to the historic section of the Wade House site, visitors will be engaged by the exhibits in the visitor center, helping them better understand the stories being shared and the built environment that they encounter in the historic area of the site.

In addition to exhibits, the new year-round facility, which overlooks State 23 midway between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac, will include a ticket counter, museum store, café, multi-purpose rooms for educational programs and workshops, restrooms, catering kitchen and office space.

The project will be completed in time for a grand opening June 6, 2013, 60 years to the day after the historic site’s original dedication in 1953.


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