The Ashland Historical Museum

This was the website for the Ashland  Historical Society Museum for a number of years, starting in 2004 when the museum was still located at 509 West Main Street in Ashland, WI. The content below is from the site's archived pages.

If you are a history buff, this is just the type of small town historical society museum that gives you a glimpse into the everyday lives of the peoples of Ashland WI. I love searching out the history of small towns in the US. Recently I was sent to Duluth WI. to speak with a client regarding the work being done by their new SEO service, the notable NYC search performance shop run by Bob Sakayama, TNG/Earthling, Inc.. I felt completely out of my league trying to assess their work, but it turned out to be fantastic learning experience for me. Working with a super competent contractor makes everyone's life easy and I really appreciate some of the insights just looking at TNG/E's work allowed me. My client understood exactly where I was coming from and since their ranks had already started climbing, the pressure was off and I really did not need to run any interventions. I wound up business in a couple of days and then took a trip to the port city of Ashland on the shores of Lake Superior. I spent the afternoon at the museum and even checked out their Gift Shop which featured interesting gifts for an especially nice remembrance of Ashland: Mural Walk tiles and note cards, tee shirts, the year I went, an Ashland calendar, recalling “Ashland’s History, One Day at a Time;” as well as books by area authors. There were even DVD slide shows and home movies: “Ashland Lake Scenes,” “Glimpses of Ashland’s Past,” and “Reflections of 2nd Street,” with then and now photos. All fascination. I brought back an Ashland calendar that recalled “Ashland’s History, One Day at a Time” for my client as a thank you for turning me on to their amazing new SEOs.

If you just happen upon this site, enjoy your nostalgic look back to when this was the Ashland Museum's Historical Society's website.

The museum's current location is below. Its current website is at​

216 Main Street West
Ashland, WI 54806
Open Monday - Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Open Saturday (from June through Whistle Stop weekend, mid-October) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Welcome to Ashland Museum Web Site!

Circa 2003

2003 Museum Hours

Winter hours -  Monday thru Friday- 10 to 2 or by appointment
Summer Hours- Monday thru Friday- 10 to 4, Saturday 10 to 2 or by appointment

2003 Museum Fees: Price of admission for non-members

$3.00 - per adult
$2.50 - senior citizen 62 and up
$1.00  - per child

Circa 2006

No Admission Fee - Donations Welcome

Museum Hours:

Monday thru Friday- 10 to 4 
Other hours by appointment

Circa 2007


Ashland 2007 Calendars Available

The 2007 calendar produced by the Ashland Historical Society, Museum volunteers, and Museum Curator Sharon Manthei is now available. This year’s calendar features the history of Ashland one day at a time for 365 days. 
History begins with 1854 and goes through the present with photos, old time ads, and fun facts and quips. This calendar is truly a collectible and will surely be as entertaining as past calendars. Hurry to the Ashland Historical Society Museum at 509 W. Main Street to purchase a calendar before the supplies run out. The gift shop also has for sale the collectible ornament 
featuring the Ashland Band Shell.

Fund Drive

  Fund Drive: The annual fund drive has begun. The committee is asking for your help to ensure that the Museum/Society continues to meet your expectations in preserving artifacts, displaying exhibits & reaching the community in awareness of our rich & colorful history. You may use the donation form provided.


Mission Statement:

The Ashland Historical Society, A non-profit volunteer organization promotes the appreciation and pride of community through a visual connection to the past by collecting and preserving memorabilia and artifacts, stories and traditions and by functioning as an educational resource. The Ashland Museum in Ashland Wisconsin is the repository for all historical memorabilia and artifacts collected by the Ashland Historical Society./h3>


Sorry there were no archived images to post with these descriptions.


Dill Hall

Northland College Campus

Dill Hall was built in 1905 as a women's dormitory. It was completely destroyed by fire on April 11, 1926 when sparks from the chimney set the wooden shingles afire. Much was lost in the fire, but all 40 women residents were spared.


Majestic Theatre

309-311 West 2nd Street

Prior to the opening of the Majestic in 1911, this property was home to an Employment Agency, Real Estate Office and Cement Tile Co. 

Since the Majestic closed in 1942, it has been a bars, clothing and card stores. 

Presently it is home to Mainland and Scissors Edge


Ray's 66 Service

1301 St Claire Street

First operated by David Anderson in 1939, it then became Kuzzy's, then Ray's. Ray built a new building in 1967. The station has been Eder Brothers since 1979.


Angvick Furniture Store

809 West 2nd Street

The Angvick Bros began selling furniture in Ashland in 1891, and the family continued the business until fire destroyed their building and the Wilmarth Block next to it in 1968. This is also the building where the Ashland Museum was first located in 1954.

Today, this block is Hardees Parking Lot.


Pratt Phillips 66 Station

223 Ellis Avenue

This station was run by brothers Charlie and Vern Pratt around 1950. The station was in operation by several different owners in the 30's, 40's and 50's.

This corner has seen some changes over the years. It has gone from Church to filling station to Auto Supply Store. It is the present location of NAPA.


Ashland Brewery

117 10th Avenue East

Dating back to 1888 the Ashland Brewery brewed "Ashland Beer". During prohibition, they switched to soft drinks. After prohibition they resumed brewing "Ashland Beer" for a while. 

Today the building no longer stands.


Dhooges Store

1201-1207 West 3rd Street

Frank Dhooge operated his Grocery/General Store from this location for many years in the early 1900's. 

After Mayor Dhooges death, the building became a hardware store and later Casperson Heating. 

The building is presently being remodeled and will 

serve as an Artist Studio.


FC Smith Floral

319 West 2nd Street

Fred C Smith moved his Floral Business from his home at 218 7th Avenue East to this location about 1924 and remained her until 1971. He had his Nursery and Green house on the corner of Vaughn Avenue and 11th Street.


New England Store

Knight Hotel Building

The name, New England Store, has been around for many years. Beginning in 1897, the store was located in the Knight Hotel and was a Dry Goods & Notions store. It later added ladies clothing to it's inventory.

About 1940 it relocated to 404 W 2nd St. 1969 found the store at 216 4th Ave W as a Gift & Yarn Store. In 1996 the New England Gift Store moved into it's present location in the Bardon Building at 518 West Main Street.


Beil Drug Store

701 East 2nd Street

This building has been home to a variety of businesses. Beil Drugs occupied the building in the 1930's and 40's. Before then, it was a meat market, candy kitchen, liqour store &, Ice Co. Since then, it has been K Pharmacy, cafe and presently it is an apartment building.


Saxes Department Store

300-302 West 2nd Street

Saxes occupied this building from 1924-1931. Montgomery Wards was next door to them and moved into Saxes building when Saxes moved a block East. 

It is now the Mini-Mall, home to Maurices and Gliks.


Johnson Studios

411 West 2nd Street

Built by the Pabst Brewing Co. prior to 1888, this building has served Ashland residents in many ways.

It has housed Saloons, Restaurants, Bowling Alley, and a Grocery Store. Johnson Studio occupied the building from 1926-1965. Since then it has been an Office Building, Sewing Machine Store, Fitness Center, Funtastic Novelty Store and is presently occupied by JC Moon.


Ashland Shoe Store

313 West 2nd Street

This building dates back to 1897 when Schillers Ashland Shoe Store came into being. 

The business went by the name of Schillers until purchased by the Watlands. The Watland Shoe Store has recently gone out of business. 

What will be the fate of this downtown landmark?


J. C. Penneys

301 West 2nd Street

Penneys came to Ashland in 1926. Their first store was at 301 W 2nd. They soon grew out of this small space and moved into the FG May building at 320 W 2nd where they remained until they built their present building in 1959. This building at 301 was originally the Ashland Cigar Store and has been home to Coast to Coast, EC Crafts and is presently Book World.


Lew Anderson Men's Store

Lew Anderson Men's Store

315 West 2nd Street

Lew Anderson's sold men's clothing and shoes in Ashland from 1903 until 1960 in the Bristol Block. 

Since then, the Bristol Block has been home to Meyers Drugs which later became Snyder Drugs.

Today the Bristol Block has been remodeled and serves as an office building.


American Hospital

American Hospital

NW corner of Stuntz & St Claire

One of Ashland's first hospitals. Built in 1889, this was Dr Rinehart's first hospital building. 

The second building is the Hosmer Hospital. The Hosmers sold out to Dr Rinehart. By 1891 Dr Rhinehart built a new hospital and these buildings became boarding houses.


Royal Theatre 513 West 2nd Street

Movie theatre and stage for Ashland's Home Talent shows. Whatever happened to that beautiful Marquee?Today the building houses "One on One Hair Design" and "Snap Fitness."/p>


Montgomery & Stocks

509 West Main Street

This little frame structure was the home of Montgomery & Stocks Wallpaper & Paint store in 1888. Later this building was torn down and the 3 story Brownstone Pabst Building was erected. Today the first floor of the building is occupied by Johnson Flower Shop and the Ashland Historical Museum.


Bay City Service Station 1022 E. 2nd St

This quaint little gas station owned by Frank Chingo, has grown over the years. It eventually was purchased by the Tomlinson family, which operates its towing service from this location.


Vaughn Avenue Texaco

Vaughn Avenue & 2nd Street

his corner of Ashland has seen several changovers. First it was a drugstore with the American Express Office located in the building and the Ashland Press in the back. Later it was a gas station for many years. Moore's Clothes'n Things has occupied the corner since 1992.


Ashland County Home

1319 Beaser Avenu

This building has served area seniors since 1928. It operated as the Ashland County Home until it was sold to private ownership in 1960. It has since operated under the names of Ashland Nursing Home, Ashland Health Care Center and presently is known as the Ashland Health & Rehab Center.


Powers & Fossage Grocery
720 West 2nd Street

Built in about 1890, this building has been a grocery store, clothing store, hotel and restaurant, dry good store and is presently Tim & Sandy's Bar.


Chicago & Northwestern Depot
419 7th Avenue West

This Depot served Ashland residents for many years, ending its passenger service to Chicago about 1971.

After sitting vacant for several years,the building was restored and is now the Chequamegon Health & Fitness Center


FW Woolworth

506 West 2nd Street

Photo shows the Grand Opening in 1907. The first location of the business. This building, along with the adjoining building now house the Robert Oien Furniture Co.


Vaughn Library
500 West Main


Built in 1888 in memory of SS Vaughn, the building housed the library on the second floor and rented out business space "to pay the rent." As the library grew, it moved to the first floor and now rents out space on the third floor.


Dodd Hospital

610 Ellis Avenue

Originally a "House of Ill Repute"

Dr Dodd bought the building for his hospital - it was all set up with many individual rooms plus a large room for a dining hall. When Dr Dodd closed the hospital and joined St Joseph's, he tore down this building and built his family home on the same property. 

The family home is now Frost Home for Funerals.


Wallie Motor Co.

2nd Street & 9th Avenue West


Since this building was a garage/Car Dealership, it has been a floor covering business, produce store and presently is the home of both "Star Liquor" and "Northern Photographics"

Can anyone ID the vehicles and/or their year?


Wilmarth Block #1, 808 West 2nd Street

Wilmarth Block #1, was the first of five blocks built by LC Wilmarth in downtown Ashland. This building housed the Wilmarth Grocery with apartments upstairs. It later housed OK Auto Parts and is the present home of the Deep Water Grille.


The Security Savings Bank at 212 West 2nd Street

The Security Savings Bank was built in 1889 by JS Ellis. By 1901 it was realized that there was no need for another bank in Ashland. Since then the building has been used for various offices. The facade was remodeled many years ago.


The Menard Hotel was a section of the original Hotel Chequamegon which was moved to 2nd Street and 7th Avenue West when the Chequamegon was dismantled. The Menard burned to the ground on New Years Eve 1956. Today the Menard Park graces the corner.


Columbia Furniture - 700 West Main St

Originally the Glass Block Department Store run by Schutt & Rowe. The name of the block (Wilmarth Block #4 - built by Lewis C Wilmarth) was changed to Sherbocov block after Sam Sherbocov bought it and started the Columbia Furniture Co.


Fountain Theatre 

108-110 2nd Avenue West

Originally the Olympic Theatre, it became the Fountain Theatre in 1891 and existed for only a year or two. Located about where the parking lot of the old A&P & Super Valu Grocery Stores.


City Hall - 215 2nd Avenue East

Built in 1888 as Ashland High School, then became Ashland City Hall. Demolished in the early 1960's to make room for Telephone Company Building.


The Colby House was one of Ashland's first hotels, operating from 1879-1901. It was located on the corner of Vaughn Avenue and 2nd Street. That corner has seen a variety of businesses over the years. The Cash Store is on that corner today.


The Elks Town House stood where the New China Cafe is now. The club house was built in 1906 and dismantled in 1968 to make way for the Tastee Freez. The Elks no longer used the building since moving to their new clubhouse at the golf course.


The Platter Restaurant, as we know it today, was originally built in 1880 by Frederick Prentice as a brothel to accommodate visiting businessmen and wealthier locals. Note the outbuildings clustered in a U-shape to discreetly "hide" their buggies.


This building has been home to various gas stations and a trolling service office. It is presently Heritage Realty.



Ashland’s Beginnings

By Sharon Manthei

Ashland, Wisconsin is located at the head of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. When the Chippewa people came to this area, about the time when Columbus discovered America, they named it Szah-guh-wah-mih-koong, which was later translated as Chequamegon. By breaking down the syllables, translators of the Chippewa tongue say that the word means the “region of shallow water” or “shoal water”. Anyone who has been on Chequamegon Bay knows that description aptly applies to Chequamegon Bay. The Chippewa people lived in the Chequamegon Area only about 120 years, and then moved to the “Soo”. While at the Soo, the Chippewa people often returned for the great hunting and fishing at what they regarded as their Chequamegon Resort. It wasn’t until about 1690 the Chippewa returned to Chequamegon permanently.

The first white men to arrive on Chequamegon Bay were voyagers and missionaries. The French fur traders Radisson and Groseilliers were the first recorded white men to visit the area. They set up a camp at the head of the bay between the mouths of Fish Creek and Whittlesey Creek. They spent the winter of 1659-1660 exploring the area and trapping beaver for their prime pelts. At this time in history; the bay was encircled by several nations of Indians, which included Hurons, three branches of Ottawas, Ousakis or Sauks, Outagamies or Fox and Illinois.  Radisson and Groseilliers camp was between the Hurons and an Ottawas camps. A Brownstone marker was erected at the site in 1929. Because of Highway reconstruction, this marker has been moved to Maslowski Bathing Beach closer to Ashland.

When priest-explorer, Allouez, arrived at Chequamegon with a half dozen other Frenchmen in 1665, they found the Indian nations still in the area. With 4,000 Indians of seven nationalities, Allouez established the mission of the Holy Ghost between two of the larger villages, very near where Radisson and Groseilliers camp had been. Father Marquette followed closely behind Allouez, arriving in 1669 and continuing the Mission of the Holy Ghost. He remained here for two years until the Sioux forced everyone out of the area.

Text or graphics may not be copied, rewritten or distributed in any manner whatsoever unless specifically noted, and may not be reused, reprinted, or reposted without written permission.


A Short History of the Ashland  Museum

The existence of the Ashland Museum was first noted in 1909 with a letter written by the director of the Historical Museum of the city of Ashland. It was located in the Ashland High School building on Ellis Avenue between tenth and eleventh streets. The letter states that they had valuable donations of historical and archeological material from Beloit College, the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Milwaukee Museum.

The next evidence of efforts in preserving Ashland’s history came from the minutes of the Old Settler’s Club of Ashland, organized in 1924. They were diligent in staging picnics and gatherings where old stories could be told and re-told. They also worked to document the events of early Ashland. In 1925 their meetings were held in the community room of the First National Bank.

In 1954, Miss Cora Angvick put together a historical display in their furniture store in connection with the Centennial of the founding of Ashland. She gathered old photographs, and artifacts to create an exhibit in Anvick's old storefront. When the celebration was over, the exhibit was moved to the new store’s basement to be enjoyed by all who dropped by.

In about 1962, the Museum was moved to the Vaughn Library building, under the advisement of Dr. John Kreher. This proved to be a wise move when the Angvick’s Store burned to the ground in June of 1967. The Museum was housed at the library until the 1980’s, when the Vaughn Library was remodeled. Following the remodeling at the library, the Museum was housed on the second floor until 1993.

The next home for the Ashland Museum was the Wilmarth Mansion at 523 Chapple Avenue. This spacious home with its beautiful woodwork was a wonderful setting for the Museum until problems with the roof and leakage damage caused the Historical Society to once again search out an appropriate and affordable home for its vast collections.

In February of 2000, the Ashland Museum moved to its present spot at 509 West Main Street, housed in the historic business section of Ashland. Due to space restraints, not all the collections are out at one time, but displays are rotated to provide interest throughout the year.


King’s Official Route Guide

By Sharon Manthei

  Today, when planning a trip, we might go to a Travel Agent, check with AAA or surf the internet for the best way to find or travel to our destination. Back in the early days of motor cars, motorists could purchase King‘s Official Route Guide to plan their trip. This interesting book, written for the motorist (the Ashland Museums copy is from 1917) traveling throughout Wisconsin, NE Illinois & Eastern Minnesota, guides you mile by tenths of a mile from city to city noting the types of pavement, R. R. crossings, bridges and buildings, businesses, places of interest, dangerous curves and intersections, crossroads and grades of hills along the way.

.0 Leave the Court House on right on West Second St following trolley on asphalt pavement, to 4 corners (immediately passing Post Office on right), (Public Park on near right corner).

.3 Turn left with one branch of trolley on Seventh Ave. (asphalt pavement), to 4 corners.

.4 Turn right on Third St. (leaving trolley).

.5 Pass fire engine house on left.

1.0 Cross R. R.

1.2 Cross R. R. switch, straight ahead, through cross roads, cross trolley.

1.4 Shortly bear right with road, down easy grade, towards Chequamegon Bay.

            This description of the “Kings” recommended route from Ashland to Bayfield continues bringing you along the Bay Front, passing the road to Iron River, to Nash  station, Barksdale, Washburn, Sioux River, Chequamegon Springs, Pikes Bay and Quarry, passing the road to Cornucopia, Salmo, Pikes Creek, State Fish Hatchery and into Bayfield.

            It is interesting to note that the trip from Ashland to Bayfield begins and ends at the County Court House, yet the trip from Ashland to Mellen begins at the County Courthouse and the return trip brings you either to the County Courthouse or to the Ashland Garage. Maybe the trip to Mellen and back was harder on the motor car and maintenance  was required. The Ashland Garage even had an advertisement on the page.

            Note that in 1917, the County Court House was just two years old and is the Court House that still stands today on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues West, and the Post Office was located at 601 West Main Street, which is now the Ashland City Hall. The Ashland Garage stood on the corner of 2nd Avenue East and Main Street, which is now a part of Zifko Tire and Battery Supply.