By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 26, 2023 at 9:01 AM

As the city continues to grow and prosper, the West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce is delighted to introduce its Doors Open event, a celebration of the vibrant and dynamic buildings and institutions that define the City of West Bend.

The debut event takes place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13 and 14, and will include more than two dozen area schools, museums, historic sites, and more, all of which will welcome visitors inside for a peek.

Among the many sites are a couple that I’ve written about and love: the Washington County Courthouse – designed by Henry C. Koch, who drew Milwaukee’s City Hall – the 1886 Jailhouse Museum, and the restored West Bend Theater.

The Bend Theater.

The opening celebration kicks off with tours of the restored Bend Theater from 3 until 5 p.m. Then at 6:30, the theater opens for a free concert by The Jimmys that will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is free.

Since the first such event appeared in France in 1984, cities around the globe have embraced the idea, including Milwaukee’s beloved Doors Open, which launched in 2011, and Chicago’s Open House, which also takes place in October.

Folks love the chance to see the interiors of buildings that they’ve long experienced only from the outside, and to learn about what goes on inside, behind the scenes.

The West Bend event – which is expected to become an annual affair – will showcase the arts, culture, history, education, industry and more of this Washington County gem.

Here is a list of the participating venues, but check back as more are expected to be added:

  • The Tower Heritage Center 1889 Courthouse Museum
  • 1886 Jailhouse Museum
  • St. Agnes Historic Site
  • Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA)
  • The Historic West Bend Theater (The Bend)
  • West Bend High School (East & West)
  • Badger Middle School
  • McLane Elementary School
  • West Bend Farmer's Market
  • Kettle Moraine Ice Center
  • West Bend Community Memorial Library
  • Kettle Moraine YMCA
  • Downtown West Bend Walking Tour
  • Historic Barton Walking Tour
  • West Bend Sculpture Walk
  • Silver Linings Auditorium
  • UWM at Washington County Theatre on the Hill with the Musical Masquers
  • Westbury Bank
  • Holy Angels Catholic Church
  • Serigraph, Inc.
  • Working Wheels Experience for Kids with the City of West Bend & Lynch Buick GMC
  • The Frisby House
  • Witte's Vegetable Market West Bend

Learn more about the event and find updates online at

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.