FIVE WISCONSIN FIRMS SELECTED TO BUILD A 38,000-SQUARE-FOOT VISITOR CENTER AND MUSEUM AT WADE HOUSE
Five Wisconsin firms have submitted winning bids to build a new 38,000-square-foot Visitor Center and Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum at Wade House historic site in Greenbush. The new year-round facility will overlook Highway 23, the busy Sheboygan County thoroughfare, midway between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac.
The Society has been working with Uihlein-Wilson Architects of Milwaukee since March 2010 to design a facility that will represent the principal element of a new master plan that will guide development of the site in coming years. General contractor for the project will be C.D. Smith Construction of Fond du Lac. Additional contractors are: Ahern-Gross Plumbing of Fond du Lac; Fireline Sprinkler Corp. of Appleton, which will provide fire protection; J&H Heating of Port Washington, which will install the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems; and Sprecht Electric Co. of Sheboygan, which will do the electrical work.
The project will create jobs through the awarding of construction contracts, with additional benefits accruing locally during construction. Every budgeted dollar in new state building projects benefits the local economy by more than double that amount, according to the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin.
A public-private partnership between the state of Wisconsin and generous benefactors is funding the project, with nearly half the $12 million total derived from private individuals and foundations, including the Kohler Trust for Preservation and the Mark Jung Family. The state Legislature appropriated $6.5 million through the sale of general purpose revenue bonds to private investors, with the state's share of funding included as part of the 2009-11 capital budget. The project is one of the major initiatives in the $77 million fundraising campaign, Forward! The Campaign for the Wisconsin Historical Society, which owns and operates the historic site.
Another $800,000 comes from a competitive federally funded Transportation Enhancement grant program administered by the state Department of Transportation. A special state fund for financing geothermal heating and cooling added another $150,000 to the mix.
"This project is a shining example of an enterprising state agency working with legislators, other state agencies and private donors to bring a dream to reality," said Ellsworth Brown, The Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society. "This facility will be not only an exciting addition to the Wade House experience, but also a great benefit to the community of Greenbush as well as Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties."
The project will also employ environmentally conscious building standards and practices that will allow it to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver status.
The new Visitor Center will include a multi-tiered orientation to the historic site and its themes; a large room for public and private functions; a classroom that will accommodate a variety of programs for school children and adult learners alike; and a museum store, café, ticketing and restrooms.
The Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum will bring the compelling stories within the world of horse-drawn transportation to life in vignette settings, interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences within a space environmentally designed to showcase these treasures for generations to come. The entire
complex will transform the visitor experience, offering a new portal to the site from which visitors will board a horse-drawn wagon, travel through the woods and over the Mullet River, seemingly back in time, to the core of the historic site.
Plans are underway for a groundbreaking, with construction expected to begin in November and completion expected in time for a grand opening on June 6, 2013, 60 years to the day after the historic site's original dedication in 1953.
Once the project is complete, the Society expects the improved amenities and more rewarding visitor experience to increase attendance and earned revenue for Wade House by expanding the audience, increasing repeat visitation and maximizing the historic site's educational potential.
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both a state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories.