The Fred H. Keller History Museum came into being after Sussex Village Historian Fred Keller sent a February 2001 letter to the Village Board, stating that he wanted to donate his collection of area-history items. He stipulated that a historical society had to be formed and said he hoped that a local museum would be purchased sometime.
After members of the local communities met, the Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, Inc., or SLAHS, was formed, and immediately sought a suitable location to be used as a museum to hold and exhibit Fred’s massive collection which started back in 1946 when he was only 14 years old.
After receiving the much needed funding, the old Chicago & North Western Railway depot was selected and purchased. This 1911 depot had been moved in 1978 from its original site off of north Maple Ave in the Town of Lisbon, to a small property parcel behind the former German Evangelical Church on Main Street in the Village of Sussex, to be used for small commercial enterprises.
The site, never really conducive as a successful business site, was purchased and renovated by SLAHS’ members, and opened to the general public in 2004. The building never had an official name, it was just referred to as the Depot Museum.
That changed early 2016 when the SLAHS Board of Directors and Officers voted to rename the building The Fred H. Keller History Museum. On April 28th, 2016 Fred, and his wife June, were honored with a plaque attesting to the name change.
Prior to the name change, SLAHS members were solicited by the Village of Sussex to move the museum contents to the new Sussex Civic Center that was in the early development stages. After much discussion and agreements, SLAHS sold the land property to a local developer, and donated the old depot to Sussex to be later moved and repurposed as a trail head on the Bug Line Trail.
At the end of October 2016, all of the contents of the old museum were moved in the new facility suite on the second floor of the Civic Center. Along with some old exhibits which were freshened up, several new ones were developed to capture the attention of school groups, residents, and other visitors. Some of these exhibits are shown in picture below.
We hope you will not only enjoy reading the many articles we have on our web site, but will plan a visit to our new museum and come back often.
Mike Reilly, SLAHS President
- MUSEUM [ABOUT]The Fred H. Keller History Museum, in the Village of Sussex Civic Center, holds local area objects of historical, artistic, or cultural interest, many being on exhibit. The Museum is operated by the non-profit corporation, Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, Inc. [SLAHS].
SLAHS came into being after Sussex Village Historian Fred Keller sent a February 2001 letter to the Village Board, stating that he wanted to donate his collection of area-history items. Many of Keller’s earliest pieces were collected in 1946. He stipulated that a historical society had to be formed and said he hoped that a local museum would be purchased sometime.
The Society held organizational meetings in mid 2001, and formally announced intentions for official formation as a non-profit corporation in November 2001. The Society is affiliated with the Wisconsin State Historical Association as a local society.
The Society is dedicated to the collection and preservation of historically significant artifacts, pictures, stories, and similar materials from the Sussex and Lisbon area (Lannon, Colgate, Lake Five, Marcy, Merton, Pewaukee, Menomonee Falls, and Butler).
The society had expected to spend several years collecting for a museum, but when James Taylor of Mequon was visiting Betty Mindemann, and was told of the new society he came forward with $100,000 from the family foundation.
The society used the money to purchase the old Chicago & North Western Railroad Depot, a piece of the community history in its own right, as the museum to house a collection of Sussex, Lisbon and Lannon collectibles.
Some projects planned for 2003 include painting the interior of the depot, refurbishing the outside, landscaping the front step and the removal of the box elder jungle between the back end of the lot and the adjacent Bug Line Trail county park.
The Museum officially opened in 2004.
After twelve years of operation and additional accumulation of donated artifacts, the Depot Museum had out-grown its physical capacity to create multiple long-term exhibits and host larger visiting groups.
Late in 2015 the Village of Sussex invited the Society the opportunity to move into the newly planned Civic Center to be built across Main Street next to the Pauline Haass Public Library. After much negotiation lead by then Assistant Curator Mike Reilly, the Society sold the land to a local developer and donated the depot building to the Village. The agreement stipulated that the Village would move the Depot to Madeline Park, preserving it and using it as a Bug Line Trail trailhead facility.
The Society ended up with a 50 year lease on a second floor suite in the new building which more than double the exhibit and storage space of the old Depot.
Meanwhile, at the March 2016 Annual Meeting, Society members voted to change the name of the museum to the “Fred H. Keller History Museum” to honor the man and his family.
In late October 2016, the museum artifacts were moved over to the new location, where new exhibits and expanded existing exhibits were created. On April 8, 2017 the Museum had its official Grand Opening ceremony.
On September 14, 2017, Michael R. Reilly was appointed Museum Director, by member vote.
- MUSEUM [LOCATION]
The Fred H. Keller History Museum is located at:
N64 W23760 Main St., Suite 240, Sussex, WI. 53089 Admission $4.00, Seniors $2.00, children 10 and under Free.
Telephone: Contact Fred Keller, 262-246-3603, or Mike Reilly, 414-530-3121
Correspondence should be addressed to :
Fred H. Keller History Museum
P. O. Box 2
Sussex, WI. 53089-0002
E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Normal Hours of Operation: The Fred H. Keller History Museum will be open every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from 10am to 4 PM. All Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am-5:00 PM. By appointment only requests; call Historian Fred Keller 262-246-3603 or President Mike Reilly 414-530-3121. Admission $4.00, Seniors $2.00, children 10 and under Free.
Winter Hours of Operation: Hours of operation dependent on weather conditions, please call ahead.