A historical building holding the distinction of being Ozaukee County’s oldest building on its original foundation could soon be in store for a renaissance.
Members of the Mequon-Thiensville Historical Society on Tuesday, Dec. 13, announced plans to develop a U.S. Post Office-themed museum within the Isham Day House, 11312 N. Cedarburg Road, in Mequon.
The building, owned by the city of Mequon, has roots going back to 1839 and was used as a cottage, built by the Isham Day family, as Yankee settlers began migrating to the region in that era.
Significant preservation efforts a quarter-century ago saved the building from demolition, though it has remained largely underutilized in recent years, save for a few days during festivals.
“We feel it could be highly successful in a variety of ways,” said Sam Cutler Jr., who serves on the historical society’s board of directors. “The house is a jewel, but it’s 177 years old. It can’t stand to be neglected much longer.”
Cutler and Bob Blazich, president of the historical society, spoke of their desire to create the Post Office-themed museum within the facility at the Mequon Common Council meeting.
While the council did not take any formal action on the historical society’s request, they emphatically lauded the proposal and conceptually gave the organization the go-ahead to meet with architects about improvements and other accommodations to bring a museum to fruition.
Alderman John Wirth said he heartily favors the group’s plans, so long as the historical integrity of the house remains intact.
“This is taking a nice property and actually doing something with it,” Wirth said. “Kudos to you.”
While the Isham Day House remains structurally sound, Blazich said the facility does need some TLC — most notably, a new roof — and a series of interior improvements, including electrical upgrades and enhanced climate controlled measures.
After discussing their plans with the council and receiving a favorable nod, Cutler and Blazich said they will meet with an architect and begin conceptual planning for the improvements.
Any spruce-ups to the Isham Day House will be done through donated funds, not through tax dollars within the city’s operating budget.
Speaking to the merits of a Post Office museum, Cutler said he believed it would fit snuggly into the extensive Town Center development, which is nearby.
As proposed, Cutler said the museum would be a seasonal destination, largely within the summer months, and would target the baby boomer population.
If the national Post Office museum in Washington, D.C., is any indication, Cutler said he believes there are people ready and willing to donate the stamps they have amassed over the years. While the hobby has waned in recent generations, some rare stamps still fetch premium prices among collectors.
“The baby boomers have collected these stamps, but their kids and their grandkids don’t want them,” Cutler said. “So we see the potential for donations.”
Based on a tentative timeline, the museum could be operational by summer 2018. Planning and potential improvements are eyed for the upcoming year.