Oshkosh has some pretty unique attributes, things that have earned it an identity across the globe. Yet, dismiss those Identifiers, like Oshkosh B’gosh and the EAA Airventure, and there is more. Pieces like the eight foot Apostles Clock and a trio of ornate stained glass windows are set inside the walls of an elegant and stately house, proving there is more to Oshkosh than what outsiders know.
I’ve visited the Paine Art Center, which is practically across the street from the Oshkosh Public Museum. What I took away was an ultimate delight in the novelty of an English Country Manor in Midwest America. So another house that encapsulates the past and allows residents to peruse its walls causes me to wonder, “Was there a battle of egos taking place, in the early twentieth century in this city?”
The Sawyer home, like the Paine house, is of Tudor design. It was built in 1908 and was donated to the City in November of 1924, intended as museum from that day forward. Unlike the Paine Art Center, The structure actually did house residents for a number of years. However, a fire in 1994 destroyed a portion of the museum and its artifacts, demanding an accurate restoration of the home.
I stroll into a modern reception area, as it is attached to a brick structure that was once home to Edgar P. Sawyer and his wife. I’m greeted by a woman who welcomes me, takes my eight dollars and gives me a brief overview of the Museum.
The Temporary exhibit is known as ‘Deck the Halls’ and delivers a warm holiday vibe to those who wander its many rooms. The Christmas décor is traditional and classy, fitting the interiors of the home splendidly. This is my first taste of holiday décor for the season. I’m not awed, but sense cheer and merriment inside these walls.
Of course there are the permanent Exhibits. One sits center stage in a room almost by itself. Made by Oshkosh clock maker Mathias Kitz, the Apostles clock can wow a visitor, putting on a show every hour on the hour. Also in the room is another Kitz creation, the St Peter’s clock.
I leave the room, enjoying the holiday ambiance and find a modern exhibit room. From an example of longhouses built by native Americans to bones of Mastodon, I explore many pieces of Wisconsin’s past. There are interactive displays and glass cases housing artifacts. I learn that fur trading, like many places in Wisconsin, was the area’s first industry for settlers of European descent.
Moving from the room, I find myself climbing a well crafted staircase. Before I reach the next floor, iridescent stained glass windows, products of Tiffany’s of New York, wait for me on a landing. They’re amazing.
I make it to the second floor and discover many interesting exhibits. There is a model of the Paine wood products company. The model is circa 1930, which was probably the height of the company before it was subdued by the great depression. It is massive and lets you appreciate the economic surge of the twenties and the subsequent fall of the 30’s.
In other rooms, there are Christmas scenes in glass cases, letting my imagination conjure a deep feeling of holiday spirit. I also stumble upon a civil war area, complete with surgical tools of the field- there’s a dummy arm to demonstrate their uses.
As I meander about, I find replica rooms of the pioneer houses with in these walls. It’s a stark contrast to the eloquence of the building that surrounds. Of course, there are displays on some of the first to come to Oshkosh Circa 1818. I learn many were not from Europe but the east coast, making a plight for financial opportunity.
Lastly, as I turn a corner I’m reminded of loss, as a charred artifact testifies for the many destroyed by fire in 1994. It was fortunate that artifacts were also housed in a separate building. Plenty of them have survived and deliver a full Museum.
There is more to see and I invite you to have a look. The cost, as I mentioned, is only eight dollars and it definitely serves as entertainment for about an hour. Make sure you check the time on your phone, as the Apostles Clock’s performance is every hour. Also scope my blogs The Paine Art Center-a manor for the community. and EAA Aviation Museum- mega interesting for more to do in Oshkosh.