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Boorman Holiday Open House to feature long-lost tavern memorabilia

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Richard Rossin Jr. has begun to assemble items for the Mauston taverns display at the Boorman House Museum. 

The Juneau County Historical Society will soon be opening the Boorman House Museum for its annual holiday showing.

But this year, the 1876 Victorian mansion’s decorated interior won’t be the only thing on display.

The society’s Board of Directors voted to open up the livery behind the house for the first time. A recent re-work of the museum’s gravel driveway means that guests will be able to safely access the building and its hidden treasures.

To celebrate the space’s unveiling, board member Richard Rossin Jr. is preparing to exhibit a turn-of-the-century water wagon, memorabilia from the Gail Theatre and pieces from shuttered Mauston taverns.

“They were just iconic bars in town,” Rossin said. “Everybody growing up back in the day knew those bars.”

Books, photos and artifacts are currently stored in the livery, surrounded by “The Boorman Village” — re-creations of a school, blacksmith shop and the Boorman Mercantile Store built by Dan and Caroline Jurkowski. The village took over the storage building upon the project’s completion in 2016.

While the wagon has long been in the historical society’s possession, the theater and tavern memorabilia are new additions. Rossin was in possession of one of the signs; others were borrowed from friends and bar owners. Once he started collecting, remnants of long-gone downtown bars began to pop up left and right.

Rossin will be picking up items all week until the display is filled.

“The ‘80s were awesome. I thought it would be kind of cool to bring these things together,” he explained.

Signage and ashtrays from the Crystal Bar and Red Dot Tavern have already been moved to the livery. The Crystal Bar, which stood on East State Street, burned down in the 1970s. The Red Dot Tavern in downtown Mauston closed in the late 1980s. Pieces from the Harmony Bar and Webb’s Bar are arriving soon.

“I’m getting more stuff, and it’s coming in from all over. They’re in closets, garages, attics… and now they’re being put on display,” Rossin said.

Rossin hopes to keep bringing new treasures to the historical society and encourages residents to explore what lost artifacts they may have under their own roofs.

“This building, we have to fill it with stuff,” he added. “Why not have something that people will really get a charge out of?”

The Boorman Holiday Open House and livery display will be open for two weekends following Thanksgiving, Nov. 26 and 27 and Dec. 3 and 4, from noon to 7 p.m. each day.

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