The Westby Area Historical Society is an educational organization that responsibly collects, preserves, promotes and communicates the history, culture and heritage of the Westby, WI area for current and future generations.
We believe that the history of the Westby, WI area is important to preserve. Since our founding in 1989, we have collected photographs, artifacts and documents outlining the history of the Westby area. Our collections are held at the Thoreson House Museum, one of the community's historic homes with an impressive pedigree.
Our museum was built as the home of Katherine and Theodore Thoreson in 1892. Their son, Bennett, became the first mayor of the City of Westby when the city was incorporated in 1920. The building was purchased by WAHS in 1993 and now serves as the home of WAHS.
As a museum, we collect artifacts relating to pioneer families, as well as preserve the genealogical and historical information of their descendants who stayed in the Westby area. The displays are planned, designed and constructed by WAHS volunteers so that adults, teens and children who visit the museum can learn from and enjoy them. The spacious grounds can be used for various WAHS and community events throughout the year. A meeting space is available and even weddings can be accommodated.
Our "History Keepers" Newsletter
Published four times a year, our newsletter tells our members about new acquisitions, volunteer opportunities, events, and highlights stories and old images of Westby.
Our Museum Displays
Our museum highlights themed displays that reflect specific Westby area history. A diorama of Westby, circa 1910, is the showpiece in a room filled with artifacts from local businesses. We also have our Veterans' Honor Room; a room devoted to Syttende Mai and ski jumping displays; a tobacco farming collection; period clothing of the area; and a "full immersion" parlor room. We also have a research library of historical materials about the local immigrants who built the Westby area. Our genealogy records and materials include information found nowhere but in the Thoreson House Museum Research Room!
Our Community Outreach
Special displays requested by members and organizations in the community; conversations and presentations at local retirement centers; providing resources to teachers in our local school district; and partnering with the Bekkum Memorial Library help to highlight some of WAHS's wonderful artifacts and share information held at the Thoreson House Museum.
WAHS is proud to hold Westby School District student grades and attendance records dating back to the 1890s, tobacco seller records from the early 1900s, as well as the Westby Sons of Norway meeting minutes and financial ledgers starting at their beginning in 1916. Our genealogy records include copies of the Coon Prairie Church records, Our Saviors Church records, Vernon County birth, marriage and death records as well as many family histories.
You can find an amazing amount of information about Westby and our surrounding area by visiting the WAHS blog, Westby, Wisconsin Remembered, at www.westbyhistory.blogspot.com.
2023 WAHS Officers
President: Blaine Hedberg
Vice President: Garland McGarvey
Secretary/Treasurer: Kathy Anderson
Additional Board of Directors Members
Dorothy La Due