Oconomowoc Area Historical Society
Committed to historic preservation and research
The museum is open Tuesday-Thursday and on Sunday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
Office hours are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
Thank You to Piggly Wiggly receipt donors! We made enough money to fund a new laptop for the education volunteers. Please keep the receipts coming!
It is the mission of the Oconomowoc Area Historical Society and Museum to serve our many constituencies as a community resource and learning center, committed to historic preservation and research; and to inspire and encourage curiosity and passion for our historic treasures.
We are a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization and there is no charge for museum admittance.
The Lins Retirement
It's been 20 years since Nancy Lins and her husband Jeff became the guardians of the Oconomowoc Area Historical Society & Museum. Their passion for preservation of Oconomowoc's history has guided them in securing the historical society's mission.
Both are from Milwaukee and developed a fondness for our Lake Country through many visits and vacations. When the hassle of living versus thriving in both locations became troublesome, they made the break to move permanently out to western Waukesha County. Nancy got a position as a village clerk while they also ran their own business. She has semi-retired from government work but stayed on to work the polls while she became the Administrator at the historical society.
Jeff, an electrical engineer, in retirement has taken on the role of preservation for the society's 102 year old building, the former National Guard Armory. He's always ready with tools (usually a specific one for each job) and with serious consideration on how to approach all aspects with respect for the Spanish Colonial building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When Nancy took on the day-to-day operation of the historical society many years past, she found it
rather disorganized with the many volunteers acting independently. She went to seminars to learn how a historical society and museum should be managed, then adapted those ideals where workable. Did she ruffle some feathers? Most probably she did, but it was for the greater benefit of building the historical resources we have in place today. She needed to be strong and assertive to be successful.
Nancy had a sign on her desk saying, “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History”. This is so true of her formula for success – spicy, driven, irreverent, organized, silly, yet dead serious. She certainly has made history with her many accomplishments proudly creating this wonderful resource in our Oconomowoc community.
Jeff and Nancy are both in their seventies and willing to continue to stay on as volunteers within our organization for which we are thankful!
A Morning with a Novelist
On April 29, 2023, author Orv Cullen paid the Oconomowoc Historical Society a visit during our
Membership meeting. He's writing a trilogy of historical fiction novels about the adventures of Ania, a Polish immigrant arriving in the US some years after the Civil War.
In his first book, 'No Gentle Rain', Ania's difficult road takes her to Milwaukee, Sussex and
Oconomowoc in the 1870s and 1880s. She encounters some unsavory characters at times but is also sheltered and encouraged by supportive, caring individuals. Orv's second book, 'All for Nothing' is in the works.
Being a novelist wasn't Orv's primary profession. He started writing as a challenge was put out to him
by a fellow professional asking him what he planned to do in retirement. He replied flippantly “I'm going to write a book!” however not really serious about this. He procrastinated until his wife gave him enough heat to get him started.
The Oconomowoc Historical Society has spent many hours collaborating with Orv to help him research houses, hotels, businesses and events providing him with the essential background information to weave through the framework of his story.
During his time with us he told stories of his childhood years living in Sussex. His happy memories were shared by a number of us in the audience. Although Orv never lived in Oconomowoc, he spent much time there with his grandpa. Often they spent lazy hours drifting along in a rowboat on many of it's lakes while fishing.
One of the stories he told was of one of their narrow escapes while fishing (relaxing) on Fowler Lake. Seems grandpa may have been napping and Orv wasn't paying too much attention to their drifting dangerously close to the dam. Grandpa shouted to Orv to jump out to the very bow of the boat and paddle as fast as he could with his hands while leaning into the water. They made headway, didn't go over and gained a new regard for miracles!
We await the completion of his second book 'All for Nothing', and perhaps he will spend another
delightful morning with us.