Public invited to Heritage Hall grand opening

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CSI Media staff | May 9, 2014

ELKHORN — The Walworth County Historical Society is gearing up for a busy season with an open house Saturday, May 10. A special grand opening program at Heritage Hall is planned from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The large meeting room in the recently acquired property of the former Betts Funeral Home, directly across the street from the Webster House Museum in Elkhorn, also will open Saturday.

A welcome will be delivered by society President Doris Reinke; a description of the history and future of the new facility by Director Pat Blackmer; a description of the County Veterans Room by Robert Webster of Sharon, head of the alliance of county American Legion posts; and finally a description of the Donor Tree on display in the main lobby by Dan Richardson, vice president of the society. The event is free and open to the public.

There will be refreshments, self-guided tours and an art exhibit of the works of Katherine Yares, longtime society volunteer from Elkhorn who passed away last year.   

The museum, which also opens May 10, is in the home of Joseph P. Webster, a well-known Civil War era musician and composer, whose most famous works are the still popular hymn “The Sweet By and By” and the love song “Lorena” that was featured in the film “Gone With the Wind.”

The home is filled with pieces that belonged to Webster and his family, who occupied the house from 1857 until the early 1950s.

Adjacent to the Webster House is the Boyd Carriage House, an imposing 1850 hand-hewn oak beam barn that houses General Boyd's carriage that transported him between Lake Geneva and Madison for his senatorial duties in the early days of Wisconsin statehood. In addition to a rare collection of Boyd family artifacts, the barn also houses a collection of antique tools and agricultural implements.

Also adjacent to the Webster House at 210 S. Washington St. is the Doris Reinke Resource Center that houses records, maps, journals, newspapers and many more documents, all available for public research. The center is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, or with an appointment by calling (262) 723-4248.

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