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Watertown Historical Society


919 Charles St
Watertown, WI 53094

Phone: 920-261-2796

Octagon House & Museum,
America’s First Kindergarten,
Plank Road Pioneer Barn,
Visitor’s Center


May: Sat & Sun, 12-3 p.m.
Weekdays by appointment

June, July & August:
Open daily 12-3 p.m., closed Tuesdays

September & October:
Sat & Sun, 12-3 p.m.
Weekdays by appointment

Open Memorial Day, Fourth of July & Labor Day

Tours are fully guided every hour on the hour


$9.00 for adults
$8.00 for senior citizens 
and AAA members

$5.00 for children 
6 to 17 years of age
School groups, 20 or more, $4.50 each

The Watertown Historical Society accepts credit cards

for admission to its museums, purchases and membership.


Website Website


Watertown Historical Society Logo

About us

Since its very beginning, the main purpose of the Watertown Historical Society has been to retain and maintain the many pieces of Watertown history for reference by all area residents. Through the years the society has been given priceless keepsakes relating to past residents of our fair city. Photographs, jewelry, furniture, linens, diaries, advertising pieces, vintage clothing; each of the items help docents to show what life was like in early Watertown.

By far the most well known gift to date has been the Octagon House. This lovely mansion is maintained with great attention to detail and serves as a primary source of income for the society. It also provides the opportunity for the society to greet visitors from all over the world. It is the main showplace for many of the gifts received through the years.

The income from tours of the house and grounds, as well as special events, enables the society to continue on in its goal of preserving Watertown's history. In turn, the soicety also works to maintain the home as a fine example of octagonal architecture.

Without the house the society would have very limited means of income, community outreach, or display and storage of its may collections.

In today's world, historical societies must do much more than accumulate the occasional collectible pieces which someone cleans out of an attic. Today, historical societies must reach out to others in special ways which promote an appreciation of the rich history found here in Watertown.

Some recent examples of new ventures include special celebrations commemorating milestones in our city. The Watertown Public Library staff also host us in the spacious display cases. We work hard to create new themes for these displays so that library visitors can learn more about local history. Area parishes have also cooperated with us, thus enabling us to host tours of several historic church buildings.

We have also joined with other historical societies to create county fair displays. These booths help to give all local historical groups a place in the present.

Of course no story such as ours would be complete without some attention to financial matters. We recognize the need for thorough work and fine craftsmanship in all projects.

Occasionally, individuals look to give us money either as a charitable contribution or as a memorial. Gifts to the Watertown Historical Society are gifts which will last for many years to come. If desired, larger gifts may be earmarked for specific projects. For more details on specific donations contact our museum manager or work with your lawyer to establish contact.

As you can see our work is like house work . . . we're never done. When one project is completed another must be undertaken. Whether it is refurbishing a room, collaborating with other historical societies on displays, or educational programs for children and adults, the Watertown Historical Society maintains an active role in the present.