Chicago Day Trip - Geneva Lake Museum - Best Historical Experience

Not all history museums are equal. The history museum in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is special. It is a recreation of main street from long ago. Complete with a blacksmith shop and anvils, dress shop, physician's carriage, fire station and much more. The floor has been recreated in brick. The building is in the old Gas and Electric Building and has the historic high ceiling and beautiful wooden beams. The museum centers around the lake and the famous sailboats. The indoor stroll is a great treat during the summer and fall too! The museum resides conveniently next to the shopping district in downtown Lake Geneva and walking distrance away from the gorgeous lakefront.

Pictures don't do this museum justice because the museum recreates the feel of the era with its brick streets and many varied shops. Geneva Lake Museum makes a great day trip for those traveling from Chicago, Milwaukee or even Madison. Downtown Lake Geneva has something to offer everyone.

The Ambiance of the Historic Museum

Besides the fact that museum has a great location and fabulous historic building that has been completely rehabilitated, the museum has character. Stay tune for the photos of the posters at the very end where you can really obtain a true feel of the era of the times. These posters give you an accurate insight into the culture at the time. Ladies and gentlemen, it gives you a better feel for the era especially when you visit in your shorts and one of the items is ladies your skirt must not be higher than 2" above your ankles!

Travel Map Chicago To Lake Geneva Wisconsin

Road Map Chicago to Lake Geneva Wisconsin photo courtesy of GmaGoldie
Road Map Chicago to Lake Geneva Wisconsin photo courtesy of GmaGoldie
A marker255 Mill Street, Lake Geneva, WI -
255 Mill St, Lake Geneva, WI 53147, USA
[get directions]

Geneva Lake Museum

Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) | Source
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) | Source

Geneva Lake Wisconsin Known for Sail Boats

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)

Private Charter Boat - Lorelei

Gage Marine's Lorelei - on the beautiful waters of Geneva Lake, Wisconsin
Gage Marine's Lorelei - on the beautiful waters of Geneva Lake, Wisconsin
Source

Geneva Lake Known for Its Nautical Influence

Geneva Lake is best known for its beautiful lake and sailboats. Even today, Gage Marine maintains a boats of every possible size for your pleasure. One of the favorite's is the mail boat - a boat that used to deliver mail throughout the shore of the pristine 5,000 acre lake. During the boat trip (or the ice cream social or the special rental boats), the captain will share with you many stories of the lake.

Geneva Lake's Public and Private Boat Charters

For my wedding, we choose to rent the Lorelei, a 41' cabin cruiser available from Gage Marine. We chose this boat because my husband loves vintage and I love the water.

This beautiful boat was crafted in Holland in 1954. Imagine an intimate cruise for two, a special group outing or my favorite - gather with your friends and time the rental for one of the many fireworks shoes. The interior is crafted of exquisite teakwood decks and mahogany trim that exude elegance. This wooden cruiser with her sleek hull gives you and your guests a comfortable ride with a million day view from every side.

I recommend planning your summer months ahead and booking this boat for your next outing as soon as possible. It is a special treat that will last a lifetime of memories.

As for the meaning of the name Lorelei, I would love to hear from its owners what the real story is. Here is some information that I found out on the Internet:

Meaning of the Lorelei

"According to German legend, there was once a beautiful young maiden, named Lorelei, who threw herself headlong into the river in despair over a faithless lover. Upon her death she was transformed into a siren and could from that time on be heard singing on a rock along the Rhine River, near St. Goar. Her hypnotic music lured sailors to their death. The legend is based on an echoing rock with that name near Sankt Goarshausen, Germany." source: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/l/lorelei.html

Oil Painting of the Famous Geneva Lake Wisconsin

Geneva Lake Museum oil painting of North Shore of Geneva Lake Circa 1880's, by John Bullokc, artist photographer, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Britton Kolar (photo courtesy of the GmaGoldie
Geneva Lake Museum oil painting of North Shore of Geneva Lake Circa 1880's, by John Bullokc, artist photographer, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Britton Kolar (photo courtesy of the GmaGoldie

Physician's Carriage

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Antique Physician's Carriage with top hat (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Antique Physician's bag (photo courtesy fo GmaGoldie)Antique Physician's Carriage - green and burgundy (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Antique Physician's Carriage with top hat (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Antique Physician's Carriage with top hat (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) | Source
Antique Physician's bag (photo courtesy fo GmaGoldie)
Antique Physician's bag (photo courtesy fo GmaGoldie) | Source
Antique Physician's Carriage - green and burgundy (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Antique Physician's Carriage - green and burgundy (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) | Source

Antique Physician's Carriage

At the turn of the century, medical care was much different from today. We must remember the communications methods were much different. Yet, a medical emergency can be a life or death situation. To help with the communication, the physician's carriage was designated much in the same way we still designate taxi cabs to this very day - by color. The color of the carriage signified that the carriage was owned by a medical physician. This helped people know the location of the closest physician. The colors were green and are shown here. Even today we equate green with health. How very appropriate. This particular carriage is owned by my husband's family. The place for the candle has been updated by me with the battery operated flickering candle.

Sock Knitting Machines and Looms

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Genenva Lake Museum - sock knitting machine (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Genenva Lake Museum - sock knitting information (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Genenva Lake Museum - loom for textiles (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Genenva Lake Museum - sock knitting machine (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Genenva Lake Museum - sock knitting machine (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) | Source
Genenva Lake Museum - sock knitting information (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Genenva Lake Museum - sock knitting information (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Genenva Lake Museum - loom for textiles (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Genenva Lake Museum - loom for textiles (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)

Antique Sleigh

Geneva Lake Museum antique sleigh (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique sleigh (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) | Source

Magnificant Museum Displays - Hair - Phone - Blacksmith Shop

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Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum antique telephone switch board (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum antique telephone switch board (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum antique blacksmith shop with anvils (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique machine for perming the hair (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique telephone switch board (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique telephone switchboard (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique telephone switch board (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique telephone switchboard (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique blacksmith shop with anvils (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique blacksmith shop with anvils (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)

GmaGoldie Quote About History

"If we don't understand history, we cannot fully appreciate the present and prepare for the future."

GmaGoldie

Baby - Have We Come A Long Way!

Children and adults alike love this display - oh, can you even imagine! Today with the advent of tiny palm size smart phones, it seems imaginable. Look at how women would add waves to their hair!

The telephone switchboard is complete with a young woman dressed in antique blouse and full skirt of course!

The black smith shop reminds us of the days before automation and how we handcrafted metal.

These items are essential to understanding who we are - if we don't understand history, we cannot fully appreciate the present and prepare for the future.

Forward Fashion for the Home Dresses and Hats

Geneva Lake Museum antique living room (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique living room (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique hats (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique hats (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique dresses (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum antique dresses (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)

Ceylon Court Special Exhibit

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Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court display (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court artifact (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court artifact (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Ceylon Court postcard photo courtesy of eBay.comCeylon Building 1904 St. Louis World Fair memoraboliaSwami Vivekananda.
Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court display (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court display (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court artifact (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court artifact (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court artifact (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum Ceylon Court artifact (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Ceylon Court postcard photo courtesy of eBay.com
Ceylon Court postcard photo courtesy of eBay.com
Ceylon Building 1904 St. Louis World Fair memorabolia
Ceylon Building 1904 St. Louis World Fair memorabolia | Source
Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda. | Source

Swami Vivekananda and The Introduction of Yoga to the Western World

Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902)

"He is considered a key figure in the introduction of Hindu philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the "Western" World, mainly in America and Europe[3] and is also credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the end of the 19th century C.E.[4] Vivekananda is considered to be a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India.[5] He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "Sisters and Brothers of America",[6][7] through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago in 1893." source: wikipedia.com

Philosphy on Learning

"What little I know I will tell you. So far as I can reason it out I will do so, but as to what I do not know I will simply tell you what the books say. It is wrong to believe blindly. You must exercise your own reason and judgment; you must practise, and see whether these things happen or not. Just as you would take up any other science, exactly in the same manner you should take up this science for study.[130]" Swami Vivekananda

Ceylon Court

The Ceylon Court is a building that was exhibited at the world's fair. It was built by the Ceylon Government and was later moved to a pristine piece of property on Geneva Lake. The architecture is Hindu as were the furnishings.

1893 World's Fair Held in Chicago Illinois

The Ceylon Building was erected by the Ceylon Government for the World's Fair that was in Chicago, Illinois. Later the building was moved to Geneva Lake and bequeathed the name "Ceylon Court".

Connection Across Continents - Across Religions

At the 1893 World's Fair, Swami Vivekananda delivered a speech for the Parliament of World Religions. Vivekananda was born in Bengal, India, lived less than 40 years and yet he had a world wide impact even at a time when travel and communication posed many obstacles. A short excerpt of his 1893 speech is provided below:

"Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realize what the separation has shown to us that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins, nor the Brahmins without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India."

Ceylon's Connection to Us Today

Ceylon is now called Sri Lanka, Ceylon was the colonial name. You have seen Ceylon sapphires often in the news. They are the best of the best in the world and yes I am biased. These superb sapphires are a vibrant blue not a dark sapphire blue. The blue in the Ceylon sapphire literally dances with joy. The author's weddings rings (both my husband's and mine) contain cushion cut Ceylon sapphires. The blue is a lighter blue than the "standard" sapphire blue. Princess Diana's wedding ring/engagement ring (now Kate Middleton's) has a Ceylon sapphire for its center stone. Jackie Kennedy was given a Ceylon sapphire cross when the Queen declared Runnymede as United States territory.

show route and directions
A markerCeylon -
Sri Lanka
[get directions]

B markerBengal, India -
West Bengal, India
[get directions]

Geneva Lake Historic Buildings

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Geneva Lake Museum photo fo building downtown that now houses an ice cream store (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) was originally the Hotel ClairKilwins in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1/2 block from Geneva Lake, down the street from Geneva Lake MuseumGeneva Lake Museum photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)Lake Geneva Towers - once the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel
Geneva Lake Museum photo fo building downtown that now houses an ice cream store (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) was originally the Hotel Clair
Geneva Lake Museum photo fo building downtown that now houses an ice cream store (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie) was originally the Hotel Clair
Kilwins in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1/2 block from Geneva Lake, down the street from Geneva Lake Museum
Kilwins in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1/2 block from Geneva Lake, down the street from Geneva Lake Museum | Source
Geneva Lake Museum photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Lake Geneva Towers - once the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel
Lake Geneva Towers - once the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel | Source

A History Lesson

History is said to be the world's best instructor. Nowhere is this more true than in beautiful Lake Geneva. Once upon a time, on the waterfront sat a stately building designed by a prominent architect to blend with the natural landscape. This architect's name is Frank Lloyd Wright. He is world famous and best known for his invention of the prairie style architecture which celebrates the prairies that dominate Illinois and Wisconsin. At the Geneva Lake Museum there is a photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel as it once stood. Sadly, today there is a - you guessed it a high rise building. Yes, the building takes advantage of the views of the lake, yes, the building is great use of space, yes, the building is very high quality and well done for modern architecture and yet the fact remains we have lost an important part of history.

Fun Items from the Geneva Lake Museum

Fun Items of History from Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Fun Items of History from Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Fun Items of History from Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Fun Items of History from Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)
Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva, WI (photo courtesy of GmaGoldie)

Famous Quote on History

"[Geneva Lake Museum is] More than just a historical museum, it is a historical experience."

GmaGoldie

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Walk the Historical Brick Streets - Feel the History

Geneva Lake Museum is more than a museum about history, it is an experience in history. Walk through the brick streets and learn why. The beauty of downtown Lake Geneva is known for its destination throughout the Midwestern United States for shopping. The lake is pristine and well known to boaters and sailors like not to mention wedding planners. The walkway along the lake is offers much more than exercise, it is an experience in a land of mega mansions and million dollar views. Yet, this tiny historical museum has captured an experience that is memorable for the entire family. See it first hand the next time you are seeking a day trip with a friend or family member.

© 2011 Kelly Kline Burnett

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Comments 9 comments

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Great hub, I am really starting to love history! Voted up.

Polly


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

Pollyannaiana,

History is a "love" once you acquire a taste for it. I have to admit, before college, I had no interest. I didn't see the purpose. Then I had a professor who taught history on the balls of his feet because he was so thrilled about it. It was from his enthusiasm that I grew to understand and appreciate and eventually love history. Thank you so much for stopping by and voting this up.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I very much enjoyed this journey to the Geneva Lake Museum. I love these sort of places and I hope to visit this one before long. It looks both fascinating and beautiful. I like the teacher's rules. :-)


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

James A Watkins,

The teacher's rules are fascinating and fun! I enjoy museums when they relate to you and they bring an experience that transcends time. Thank you so much for stopping by, I know you are traveling and your schedule must be tough. Always enjoy your comments and seeing you out here on Hub Pages.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

This museum made me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Maybe it was the teachers rules.

We are going up to Mackinaw this summer. We will either fly into to Detroit and drive up from there or fly into Chicago and drive up the Wisconsin side of the lake. It all depends on who of our friends and family is home. How far out of our way would Geneva Lake be?


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

tirelesstraveler,

Oh, I love Mackinaw - I am truly jealous. I wanted to go up there for a snowmobiling trip - still on my bucket list. Lake Geneva is the opposite end.

You made a great choice. Lake Geneva is really the playground for Chicago so when you are considering a Chicago trip it would be an ideal day trip.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

tirelesstraveler,

Lake Geneva is on the opposite side of the state. You are going to a wonderful place - enjoy! Add Lake Geneva to your radar for another trip.

You are right - Laura Ingalls Wider - I would never have thought of that - thank you for sharing. Yes, it perhaps is the teacher rules! Charming and old fashion with strict adherence to proper etiquette.


stessily 3 years ago

GmaGoldie, Lake Geneva Historical Museum and Milwaukee Public Museum are two of my favorite museums in Wisconsin. In childhood my summers were spent with my maternal grandmother in Milwaukee; my paternal uncle shared my father's love of history and so my sister and I became familiar with the history and beauty of southeastern Wisconsin.

Lake Geneva is one of my favorite lakes. My sister, brother and I once trekked around the lake; it was a leisurely stroll and took 9 hours! Every second was filled with a beautiful, wonder-filled landscape.

A favorite pastime for me in the Midwest was annual boat tours of Lake Geneva. The architecture --- what is there now, what was torn down unfortunately --- is fascinating.

Thank you for highlighting this wonderful museum.

Appreciatively, Stessily


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

Hi Stessily,

There are certain hidden gems in the Midwest and the Lake Geneva area and the historical museum are very special. I found them by walking the FREE pathway - what a treasure! I am jealous you made the trek around completely - I have visited hundreds of times from all corners but the entire pathway - the 9 hour luxury of time has eluded me.

Thank you so much for stopping by and celebrating this great American treasure in our very midst.

BTW - Our wedding reception included renting a private boat and watching the fireworks. Mid-August has a private display that is exceptional every year!

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