There is an abundance of history to be appreciated in the Kenosha Area. Anyone interested in yesteryear, nostalgia, or architecture will appreciate Kenosha’s four historic districts. If Kenosha’s five museums were subjects in school, the titles could read “Natural Sciences”, “Fine and Decorative Arts”, “Maritime Past”, “Industrial Heritage”, and “American History”.

Here’s a sampling of Kenosha’s historical side:

Self-Guided Tours of Durkee Mansion

This 1860s Civil War Mansion is totally restored to its original Victorian splendor. Its features include the largest suspension stairway in the state. The mansion is part of Kemper Center, which is located in the Third Avenue Historic District. Details>

Open the first and third weekends, April through October, as well as select dates during the holidays, late November through mid-January
Admission is free, donations are gratefully appreciated

Historian-Led Walking Tours of Old Northside

The tour will make its way through the old north side of Kenosha: "over the Rhine." Historically, the neighborhood was a mix of workers and business owners, primarily immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, and shows a slice of life in the self-contained urban neighborhood of the past. The tours are led by volunteer historians who grew up in the neighborhood. Details>

May through October, fourth Sunday of the month
$10; make your reservation with the Kenosha History Center

Cole-Thiers HouseHistorian-Led Walking Tours of Third Avenue Historic District

This district features Kenosha’s early 20th century mansions along the Lake Michigan shore. This area was the residential choice for many of Kenosha’s most prominent industrialists. Many of the homes in the district were designed by regionally important architects. There are homes that date back to the 1840s and the 1860s. Details>

May through October, first Saturday of the month
$10; make your reservation with the Kenosha History Center

Simmons LibraryHistorian-Led Walking Tours of Library Park Historic District

Like the other tours, the architectural and historical significance of the buildings are discussed as you walk by them. The district contains many individually outstanding examples of 19th century and early 20th century architecture. This district includes a plaque that marks a stop on the Underground Railroad; the 1900 Simmons Library that was designed by nationally acclaimed architect Daniel H. Burnham; and the home where acclaimed actor, writer, director, and producer Orson Welles was born. Details>

May through October, second Saturday of the month
$10; make your reservation with the Kenosha History Center

Kenosha Public MuseumMuseums

Enjoy self-guided tours at these venues. Volunteer greeters/docents/historians are available to provide information and answer questions.

  • The Civil War Museum – focuses on the contributions of the Upper Middle West – Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Michigan – to the Civil War. This museum is one of just a handful of venues nationwide using 360-degree movie technology.
  • Kenosha Public Museum – a natural sciences and fine and decorative arts museum. Learn about the mammoths discovered in Kenosha County that re-wrote the science books! FREE
  • Dinosaur Discovery Museum – the only museum that focuses on the link between meat-eating dinosaurs and birds. See the largest collection of meat-eating theropods in the nation! FREE
  • Southport Light Station MuseumKenosha History Center – delve into Kenosha’s early settlement and industrial history here. This includes Kenosha’s auto-manufacturing companies. Also see a Miniature Statue of Liberty. FREE
  • Southport Light Station Museum – the 1867 Light Station keeper’s house features a maritime museum with information on shipwrecks, commercial shipping and fishing, and lighthouse keepers. Climb 72 steps to the top of the 1866 lighthouse tower for an incredible view! Open May through October, Thursday through Sunday. FREE to tour house

Five Museums

More Historical Experiences

  • Ride into yesteryear! Travel on an Electric Streetcar through Downtown Kenosha and along the Lake Michigan shore. Kenosha's streetcars are authentic 1948 and 1951 President's Conference Committee (PCC) cars that once operated in Philadelphia and Toronto.
  • Bristol Renaissance FaireExperience living history! The 16th Century lives on at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, open for nine weekends each summer. The Faire is set within the framework of the summer day in 1574 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited the English hamlet of Bristol. You'll find games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music, characters, and clothing fit for the time period.
  • Behind the Scenes Tour of the Simmons Library: On the second Saturday of the month, learn about Zalmon Simmons, Daniel H. Burnham, and the history of this beautiful building. Located in the Library Park Historic District, the building opened in 1900.



Enjoy your walk – or ride – through history!

4 Historic Districts

the story behind
Our Wallace Fountain