History of the Main Museum Building

The main museum building was originally built in 1899 as the Methodist Church. In 1913 it was purchased by the local Masonic Lodge, after which it underwent complete remodeling. A basement was dug and the building was raised about 8 feet. Later, the entrance was changed and the first floor windows eliminated. The first floor was used for lodge meetings and the basement was converted to a kitchen and banquet room. In 1992 the Masons deeded the building to the Pittsville Area Historical Society for the purpose of establishing a museum. PAHS then remodeled and updated the building, adding exhibits and display areas upstairs and down, transforming it into the building you see today. To learn more about the building’s history see the Our History page and also the book Yellow River Pioneers.

Masonic Temple circa 1916
The Masonic temple in Pittsville circa 1916.
Main Lodge Display Room from the Back
1st Floor Display Room from the Front
Main Lodge Display Room from the Back
1st Floor Display Room from the Back


1940s Kitchen
1940s Kitchen – features a kerosene stove, Hoosier baking cupboard, kerosene lamp, spices, dishes, pots, pans, and utensils from the era.
Pittsville Pottery
Pittsville Pottery – features 155 items of Ed Arnold’s collection that was bequeathed to PAHS upon his death. The pottery factory was in business off and on from 1931-43.
Mossing/Cranberry Industries
Mossing/Cranberry Industries – This exhibit takes one from the original sphagnum moss baling, transitioning to cranberry bogs, then into present-day practices and products.
Pittsville History Wall
Pittsville Pictorial History Wall – Ho-Chunk Native Americans, first inhabitants; Severn family, first known white settlers 1849; Oliver Pitts arrival in 1856; first school 1859; post office 1875; first general store 1878; first newspaper 1883; arrival of the railroad 1884; electricity 1924; big fire 1928; incorporated as a city 1952; plus many more. You can find more detail of the history of Pittsville in the book Yellow River Pioneers.
Household Cleaning Tools
Household Cleaning Tools – “From rise of morn to setting sun, a woman’s work is never done”. This display showcases early home laundry and floor cleaning equipment.
Military Clothing
Military Clothing – features uniforms of local residents from WWI forward. Includes a tribute to Harry Palmer, Hubert Ritchie and Larry Thomas, the servicemen for whom the Pittsville American Legion Post is named (Palmer-Ritchie-Thomas Post 153). Plus see a display of memorabilia from Don Hahn’s service life.
Native American Artifacts
Native American Artifacts – First Pittsville area inhabitants were Native Americans (Ho-Chunk). PAHS is fortunate to have on display an authentic vest and headdress that were gifted to local residents.
Christmas Room
Christmas Room – Displays of Christmas ornaments and memorabilia triggers fond memories of childhood Christmases from long ago.
Early Home Entertainment
Early Home Entertainment – includes a gramophone, slide and reel-to-reel movie projectors, musical instruments from local musicians including Margaret Worchel Gronski’s (longtime local school music teacher) player piano, plus a console radio and 7-inch black & white TV
Beauty Shop
Beauty Shop (downstairs) – Jerry & Arline Zalabsky’s beauty shop, 1940-2011
Early Competitive Team Sports
Early Competitive Team Sports
Wedding Dresses
Wedding Dresses – This exhibit features wedding gowns worn by local residents from 1914-1948, including wedding day pictures.

Deer were scarce in the early 1900s, but rabbits were plentiful and hunted for food. Wolves were hunted (to extinction, but migrated back to the state starting in the 1970s) for bounty payments while hides were sold for cash. Rivers, lakes and streams provided plenty of fish. Trapping provided income through the sale of furs. Predators were trapped to protect farm animals and fowl. These wildlife sports were later regulated by the Department of Natural Resources through seasons and licensing.

Hunting, Fishing & Trapping
Hunting, Fishing & Trapping
Logging, Lumberjacks & Lumber Barons
Logging, Lumberjacks & Lumber Barons – Learn more about our history of logging in the book Yellow River Pioneers. See also: A History of Logging in Wisconsin

Logging was the first industry in the Pittsville area. Virgin timber (particularly white pine) was plentiful until clear-cutting decimated these forests. Trees were notched on one side with an ax, then sawed through just above the notch from the other. After delimbing, trunks were sawed into logs and transported on temporary narrow gauge railroads, hauled on horse-drawn sleighs in the winter, or floated to mills on the yellow river and its tributaries. Soon after the turn of the 20th century, the vast pine forests in the area were ‘logged out’ and the great logging industry came to an end.

Early 20th Century Summer Kitchen
Early 20th Century Summer Kitchen – were lifesavers for many women. Kitchen activities such as canning, cooking and baking with a wood stove made kitchens unbearably hot. So the stove was moved to an attached screened room or separate building for the summer where it would be cooler.
Pittsville Historic Downtown Buildings
Historic Downtown Buildings – shows Pittsville buildings from bygone years. Included are a drugstore with turret, a wooden school building, churches, and businesses. You can find more about the history of downtown Pittsville and its businesses, including some devastating fires, in the book Yellow River Pioneers.
PHS Yearbooks
Downstairs: Pittsville High School Yearbooks (Ho-Ang-Ho) – from 1928-2022, are available for browsing. Jr. Panthers yearbooks from 1968-79 & Elementary School Yearbooks from 1994, 1996-99, 2001 & 2004 are also displayed. Stop in to browse through the collection OR see our digital PHS yearbooks from 1950-2018 (online) in .pdf file format.
Beds & Bedroom Furnishings
Beds & Bedroom Furnishings
Girl & Boy Scouts Display
Girl & Boy Scouts Exhibits located downstairs

A short history of Pittsville