Stepping back in time
BY TERESA DERFUS
MARSHFIELD — More than 300 Marshfield School District third graders are stepping back in time this May – Historic Preservation Month – to learn more about a man who put Marshfield on the map and experience Marshfield history.
They’re touring the Governor William H. Upham House, 212 W. Third St., the biggest artifact owned by the North Wood County Historical Society (NWCHS). The home, built in 1880 and listed in the Local, State and National Register of Historic Places, is the center for NWCHS exhibits, activities and local history research.
“All that we do is education,” said Kim Krueger, NWCHS coordinator, “and we’re happy to see students engage with history here. We’re a repository for artifacts from Marshfield and North Wood County area and we take care of those artifacts and their history; disseminate information; and preserve and promote history so these student tours are a big part of our mission.”
Student tours have been conducted for the past 30 years, initially walk-throughs. Krueger, though, has changed them to have students leave with a more memorable hands-on, tactile experience.
They see how butter is made and then get to taste it. They’re challenged to set a formal place setting, write their names using an old-fashioned ink pen, and type their names with an “old computer,” or manual typewriter.
Krueger can tell they’ve mastered their school history lessons when they quickly answer her questions about Marshfield. “Ideally this is the scenario,” she said. “With this tour, they cover local history with Mr. Upham having served as Marshfield mayor and later as Wisconsin’s governor. These students next year will learn about state history so they’ll learn more about him.
“They’re engaged, interested and really enjoy even the toys in the House’s toy room. The simpler the toys the more they are into them. It’s interesting. With all their accessibility to technology and readiness to getting on line, things here are tactile and interactive. They love them. And they learn there is interesting history in their community.”
Seeing old things through young eyes makes them new again. For example, the rotary dial phone in the kitchen. “When we talk about how the phone works, I ask if they have phone numbers memorized if they get into trouble and need help,” Krueger said. “Many don’t because they rely on cell phones. Cell phones came into their own in the 1990s and that’s not so long ago!”
The House is open year-round for tours from 1:30-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays or by appointment. Krueger, NWCHS members and volunteers, also are getting ready for upcoming events showcasing the House:
– The 44th annual pie and ice cream social from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 3, right after the Dairyfest parade in downtown Marshfield. This is the NWCHS’ biggest fundraiser of the year. Held on the lawn, people can purchase pie, sit in the shade of the yard’s trees; watch children play carnival games to win prizes and participate in basket raffles and a silent auction. Music will be provided by “Twain J” (Joe Finamore and Jill Kupfer). Also, the House will be open for informal tours.
– Hub City Days Saturday, July 29, will showcase a horsepower carriage exhibit. “The city will have all types of cars downtown, but we have the pre-cars on our lawn,” Krueger said. A lunch plate will be the food feature and new this year will be demonstrations by John Berg of Marshfield, a blacksmith who will have a portable forge for demonstrations. Berg is the great-grandson of Michael Berg Sr., who had a blacksmith shop on South Central Avenue in the 1880s.
For more information, go to NWCHS’ Facebook page or call 715-387-3322.