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From: "jdent1 AT optonline DOT net" jdent1 AT optonline DOT net
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 17:03:22 -0500
Subject: Sussex, WI
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Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society to open in old rail depot
By JACQUELINE SEIBEL
jseibel@journalsentinel=2Ecom
Last Updated: Dec=2E 14, 2002

Sussex - An 1893 charcoal drawing of the village's pioneers, an 1872 map o
f
Lisbon and an extensive Kewpie collection kept in the home of historian
Fred Keller will soon have a permanent place here

The recently formed Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, with the help o
f
a Mequon memorabilia collector, has purchased the 88-year-old former
Chicago & North Western Railway depot for $74,000 from Sandy Mack

Mack owns and operates Sussex Country Printing Inc=2E inside the former Zi
on
Evangelical and Reformed Church, N63-W23811 Main St=2E The church is in fr
ont
of the depot and across the street from the Pauline Haass Public Library
and Mindy's Antiques

The depot is the only remaining of four that once operated in this histori
c
railroad community, Keller said

The 1,500-square-foot building, which needs some repairs, will provide
enough space to display all of Keller's collection and more, he said

The basement, which was added when the depot was moved from Maple Ave=2E t
o
its current location in 1978, will allow for storage

The Bug Line Trail borders the back of the depot property, and parking wil
l
be available in the Sentry grocery store lot adjacent to the depot

"Considering the history of the area, it's very fitting to have the museum

in the depot," he said

Keller, 70, has been collecting area memorabilia since he was 14 and he
purchased a Civil War musket from a "local" for $5=2E Today, his collectio
n
has grown to 300 books, thousands of photos and memorabilia from area
businesses and organizations

His Kewpie collection has drawn interested parties to hear his
presentations from around the United States=2E The doll was used as a logo

for the former Mammouth Springs Canning Co=2E, a longtime employer of area

residents

Old signs among treasures
Keller says he has one of two remaining lighted "Kewpie Pop" advertising
signs, created when Mammouth canned soda water in 1954=2E It was discontin
ued
soon afterward

Keller also has a 100-year-old ice cutter, a 1930s wool basketball uniform

from Hamilton Sussex High School and letters from the area's first female
settler

In 1976, Keller was named the village's official historian, and serves as
the sites and markers chairman for the Waukesha County Historical Society

He also has been part of the effort to install numerous historical markers

around the area

But Keller said the items he has collected, purchased or received don't
belong to him

"They have been placed in my care to look after and have fun with," he
said=2E "They belong to the community=2E"

More than a year ago, Keller told the community that he would hand over hi
s
collection if a historical society were formed and a building purchased to

hold the collection

Forty-six people from Sussex, Lisbon and Lannon met in August 2001 and
voted to form the society

Hank Carlson, former village trustee and a Waukesha County board
supervisor, was elected chairman

Purchase wasn't smooth
It has taken more than a year to purchase the building, Carlson said, and
it wasn't a simple process

The property, which doesn't have street access, needed an easement
acceptable to village officials and all of the depot's neighbors, Carlson
said

The property description needed to conclude the sale had to be rewritten a
t
least twice because of errors, delaying closing the deal for more than a
month, he said

During the delays, the society paid rent on the building so it wouldn't be

purchased by another party until the deal was complete Nov=2E 26

Through it all, Carlson said, he became frustrated at times and, had it
been his own purchase, he probably would have walked away

"It would be terrible not to preserve this items," he said

"It's really been a combined effort of a lot of people," Carlson said of
the purchase and the new society

He was joined by village Trustee Roger Johnson, who handled the paperwork
so the society could get tax-exempt status in February, and acted as a
liaison between the village and the society

Collector's arrival 'a miracle'
Betty Mindemann, the owner of Mindy's Antiques and historical society vice

chairman, also helped put the society on the track

Mindemann, who has been in the antiques business for more than 42 years,
has known James A=2E Taylor, 83, of Mequon, for 30 of those years

About the same time the society was formed, Taylor approached Mindemann
about finding a rural museum for his collection, she said

"I told him that it's a miracle that he came," she said

They began talking about the Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society and its

desire to find a home

Taylor, whose family owns Taylor Electric Co=2E, agreed to donate $100,000

once the group obtained non-profit status

"What I've done is because I think it's good for the area," Taylor said


Taylor's collections are not specific to the Sussex-Lisbon area, but are
part of American history, which could be of interest to people visiting th
e
museum, he said

He has a collection of coverlets, quilt-like covers woven in the 1850s and

used for warmth=2E He has been collecting the coverlets for about 50 years


Taylor also has a several Buddy "L" toys that he played with as a child

These rugged steel toys include a truck, fire engine and cement mixer

The Mequon man also will donate his collections of pewter, cut glass and
models of clippers, schooners and other ships

Taylor said his donation should not be the focus, but rather preserving
history should be the goal

"This is a wonderful thing for the Sussex-Lisbon area and for the future,"

he said

Mindemann, who will be the curator for Taylor's collection, said the next
step would be make the repairs so the museum can open in 2003

"I think it's going to be very interesting for the people to come in and
not just see Sussex area memorabilia, but Americana," Mindemann said
"That's what it's all about=2E"

Keller will be the curator of his collection

"Somewhere, sometime and somehow they have been entrusted to me to care fo
r
until I can give them back," he said



A version of this story appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Dec

15, 2002

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