Mission: To preserve and share the heritage and history of the village of ephraim, wisconsin.
Programs: Preservation of historic properties: the ephraim historical foundation (ehf), with the financial assistance of its endowment, the ephraim foundation heritage fund, owns, operates, and preserves a total of seven historic buildings in the village of ephraim. In addition to the historic buildings, the ehf maintains the grounds of these buildings, a green space in the village, and an administrative building equipped with climate-controlled storage, offices, and a conference room. Each property presents its own preservation and maintenance challenges, such as ensuring the historical integrity of the properties, but under the direction of a dedicated buildings & grounds committee (made up entirely of volunteers) and the support of our membership, the ehf is able to meet these challenges in a timely and responsible manner. The committee routinely does walk-throughs of all the ehf properties and compiles a list of repairs and maintenance needed. These needs are then prioritized and completed, often through the generous donations of our members. These building serve as museums, archives, and administrative offices for the ehf so that we may continue to fulfill our mission. Pioneer school museum (1880): the pioneer school museum is the "flagship" museum of the ehf. The ehf was founded in 1949 because of community members' desire to save this historic one-room schoolhouse. Today, the school is a museum interpreted to the late 1930s. Its finished basement provides additional, climate-controlled storage for ehf archives, artifacts, and records. In 2017, a new hvac system was installed in the school to aid in climate control. Anderson barn museum (1880): the anderson barn history museum includes two exhibition areas and a hands-on hayloft area for children. This 1880s barn was purchased and rehabilitated by the ehf in the 1980s and served for many years as both a museum and the administrative center for the ehf. Now, with the construction of the arc (see below), the barn is dedicated entirely to rotating exhibits. In 2017, our featured exhibit in the anderson barn was "when johnny comes marching home: ephraim's civil war stories". Grounds of the anderson barn history museum: when the arc was constructed, a donor provided funding to create a large inviting garden and lawn at the site. The garden and lawn are enjoyed by members, the public, and local artists. It also is used for many of our children's programs. Because of the size of the garden and lawn, the donor provided the ehf with an underground sprinkler system to help maintain the garden during the summer months. The donor also provides funding for routine landscape maintenance. Archival resource center (arc) (2009): the arc was constructed in 2009 as an attachment to the anderson barn history museum. This building was fully funded through donations. It includes the ehf administrative offices, conference room, and archival storage (all climate-controlled). Ephraim organizations are able to utilize our conference room for their meetings, and many have done so since the building was constructed. Svalhus (1890): this is an unusual log building, designed in the traditional norwegian style of the svalhus or "cooling house. " the property was originally owned by an early settler of ephraim. The building later was used by a hotel as a summer cottage. In the mid-1990s, the svalhus was donated to the ehf. The ehf used the property for meetings and as an office before the arc was constructed. Currently it is used for childrens programs and for meetings. In the summer of 2017, work was started on creating a reference library in the svalhus. This is an ongoing project and is funded entirely through donations. Anderson store museum (1858): the anderson store was built in the 1850s by the anderson family (who also built the anderson barn history museum, see above) and was operated by the anderson family for 100 years. In the 1960s, it was opened as a museum and operated by the ehf. The ehf purchased the building from the village of ephraim in the early 2000s. Today, the store is interpreted as an early 1900s store, complete with a large amount of original merchandise found in the attic of the store. In 2017, two permanent exhibits (ladies' wing and shoe display) were redone. Goodleston cabin (1855): the goodletson cabin was built by pioneers in the mid-1850s. It was the family's home until the late 1800s. It later became the honeymoon suite for an ephraim hotel. The building was donated to the ehf in the mid-1970s and today is one of our museums, giving visitors a glimpse at pioneer life. Historic iverson house (1853) and the groenfeldt stable (1860s): the iverson house is one of the oldest frame buildings in northern door county and was one of the first buildings constructed in ephraim after the village's founding in 1853. The house served as the home of the reverend iverson family as well as the community's church (moravian) and school. Later ministers lived in the home and a stable was added to the property in the 1860s. In the early 1900s the property was purchased by a family and used as a private summer home until the ehf purchased it in 2001. The family, who spent summers in the home for the majority of the 20th century, was very contentious about maintaining the building's historical integrity and very few modern amenities were added to the building. It is now one of our museums and is interpreted to the 1880s because of a number of letters written by the minister and his wife describing the interior of the home and life in ephraim. In 2013, the entire exterior of the building was whitewashed (using an antique whitewash recipe) and the trim was repainted. The building has never been painted, only whitewashed, since it was built in 1853. Olga dana green: the olga dana green is a small green space located in the middle of the village. It was donated to the ehf in the 1970s with the condition that it would always remain a green area for the community to enjoy. Other ephraim organizations utilize the space for activities and the ehf uses it for children's programs. The green offers a spectacular view of the harbor and many visitors to ephraim enjoy relaxing on the green.
education and outreach programs: an important part of our mission is educational and outreach programs, all of which are designed to engage a wide variety of audience with the history and heritage of the ephraim community, and to provide a strong sense of community. We offer a wide variety of children programs, adult programs, family programs and tours. We also strive to be a cooperative member of both the ephraim and door county community; a number of our programs are done in collaboration with other area organizations. Child's play: a morning program aimed at children ages 4 and up. Children hear a story (usually historically themed) and then do a related craft. We do five programs per summer. We have established a strong collaborative relationship between the ehf and the ephraim library for this program. Teaching trunk program: an outreach program conducted in the gibraltar schools in fish creek, wi. A trunk, containing authentic artifacts and related activities, is presented to several classes. A staff member and volunteer accompany the trunk dressed in costume representing historical figures from ephraim's past. They were able to describe what life was like for their characters. Each trunk was designed to be grade-specific and related to current curriculum. In 2013-2014, the ehf visited the 4th graders and kindergarteners a total of three times with three different trunks (trunk topics relate to the history of ephraim and door county and included: early years in ephraim; the victorian era; tourism and the cherry industry). In 2014-2015, the trunk program visited the 4th and 8th graders with three trunks (topics to include: early years in ephraim; tourism and the cherry industry; peninsula park and the ccc camp (this is a collaborative effort with the peninsula park). A special holiday trunk was taken into the kindergarten class. The ehf continued to visit the these same grades in 2016-2017. Gibraltar's 3rd graders tour (started in early 1990s): we host the gibraltar school's 3rd graders for a day and give them a tour of the village and we end with an ice cream social at the ephraim moravian church. Bethany lutheran church is included in this tour as well as our historic buildings. Ehf museums: during the summer season, the ehf operates a total of five museums: the anderson barn history museum; the anderson store museum; the pioneer school; the goodletson cabin; and the historic iverson house museum. The historic iverson house can be viewed only by scheduled tour. The other museums are open during the summer and visitors are welcomed. Each museum provides a distinct illustration of ephraim's history and is furnished with artifacts from the foundation's collections: the anderson store functions as a museum store, selling local history books, penny candy, and hollyhock seeds among other wares, while also displaying many original artifacts including patent medicines, shoes, and household goods; the pioneer school is interpreted to the school days of 1939 with desks and blackboards; the one-room goodletson cabin exhibit interprets pioneer life on the frontier in 1855; and the historic iverson house is interpreted to the 1880's, with a permanent exhibit illustrating the time of anna and anders petterson, the third moravian minister and his family and with reference to pastor iverson, the builder of the house. The anderson barn stands apart from the rest of the museums as it includes annually rotating exhibits, featuring the foundation's collections and a genealogy project. Upstairs in the anderson barn our hands-on hayloft features our children's mascot, bjorn the horse. The hayloft is a place where children can engage with old-fashioned games and toys, match traditional quilt patterns, write a reproduction postcard home at the old postmaster's desk, try on old-style clothes, and play house in the homemaking area. Historic walking tour (began in early 1990s): walking tours of the village are offered once a week during the summer. Visitors take a leisurely walk around the village with a volunteer tour guide, who provides the history of the village, beginning with the founding in 1853 through modern day. Classic tram tour: tram tours of the village are offered daily when the ehf museums are open. Guests are chauffeured around the village in our electric tram and are provided a detailed history of the village by a knowledgeable volunteer driver. The ehf purchased the electric tram in 2010. Heritage tram tour: the heritage tram tours are offered on tuesday afternoons to give visitors a detailed history of the moravian religion and the moravian history of early ephraim; the village was founded in 1853 by a moravian minister and his congregation. This tour includes stops at the historic iverson house, the ephraim moravian church, and the ephraim moravian cemetery. Iverson/moravian church walking tour: knowledgeable docents give visitors an insightful tour of the historic iverson house and the ephraim moravian church on this thursday afternoon tour. History speaks: this lecture series was established in the late 1980s and continues to this day. Speakers present on a variety of topics relating to door county and wisconsin history and culture. Programs take place in the ephraim village hall on tuesday evenings in july. This is a free event and is open to the public. Sunday night singalongs: this program is open to the public at no charge. A song leader and a pianist lead attendees in an hour-long sing along of classic american folk tunes and songs. In 2017 we held eight singalong programs. Ephraim heritage day: the first day of our season is "free museum day and all our museums are opened to the public at no charge. The buildings are staffed by docents and volunteers who greet visitors and share information about the ehf mission and our programs. We work with other ephraim non-profits on this event and promote other cultural institutions in the village. Annual summer social: this is our annual fund-raising dinner, organized by volunteers. We average about 200 guests, which often features a historical theme and music. It is a wonderful way for ehf members to see friends and reminisce. All funds raised at this dinner go to support the ehf's mission of historic preservation. Holiday potluck: this is holiday potluck in early december for those members and community members to celebrate the winter holidays. Christmas in the village: collaboration with the ephraim business council. A day-long holiday celebration in the ephraim village hall for the public. The ehf provides old-fashioned games for the day and assists with the set-up and take-down. Heritage alliance of door county: collaboration with other door county historical societies and organizations. This group was first established by the ephraim historical foundation in 1998 with the purpose of bringing together the history organizations of door county to share knowledge and experience, and explore possible collaborations; it was to be a service organization for those involved with historical preservation and presentation in door county. The heritage alliance of door county has done a number of collaborative projects and programs over the years.
preservation and presentation of the history of ephraim: a great deal of work goes on behind the scenes in the ehf archives and in our artifact storage areas. The ehf is the steward for a large and varied collection of artifacts and archives. From the objects and documents in our collection we conduct research on the history and heritage of ephraim and this research is then used in programs, exhibits, publications, research requests from ehf members and the public, and to add to our own understanding of the community we represent. Archives and collection care and documentation: the ehf has a professional curatorial staff (executive director/curator and collection manager) tasked to work with an archives committee of volunteers to ensure the proper care and documentation of the ehf's collection. The ehf is the only historical organization in door county equipped with climate-controlled (temperature and humidity) storage area and the staff needed to care for the collections. The ehf staff often serves as a resource for other historic organization and history societies in door county. The community recognizes the ehf's ability to responsibly and professionally care for artifacts and as such, the ehf receives a number of interesting and important objects and documents annually. The curator and the archive committee make decisions on which items to add to the ehf collections. As items come into the collection, they are documented; however, there remain a large number of artifacts that were donated to the ehf before the implementation of pastperfect in the early 1990s. Documenting these artifacts is ongoing work and great strides are being made. Work continues on reorganizing the ehf collections in the storage areas. In 2014, a sump pump over-flow caused our basement to flood, but effective disaster planning, including flash freezing of affected materials, saved virtually all of our archival materials from the water damage during area high water in september, 2014. In 2016, repairs and improvements were finalized and collections were returned to the archival storage areas. Also in 2016, the ehf hired a third full-time staff member to allow our professional curator to focus time in the collections. Work continues on the collections and the svalhus library will be an additional way for us to share our collection. Exhibits and research: the ehf's museum exhibits are routinely reviewed to ensure the correct information is being communicated, and this information is being communicated in the most effective way. The anderson barn museum, with its rotating exhibits, provides the most flexibility regarding exhibits, and enables the staff the freedom to experiment with new exhibit ideas and forms. For several years, the ehf has conducted research on family genealogies and displayed the research in the barn. This exhibit has evolved into an ongoing research project that will continue into the future. Our rotating exhibits also enable the ehf to give the public and members access to the ehf's extensive collection. The 2017 exhibit was about ephraim's civil war veterans. Publications: the ehf sells a variety of books in the anderson store museums, all of which are related to the history and heritage of ephraim and door county. A number of these books are published by the ephraim historical foundation.