Another tourism season has come and gone. Mississippi River cruise boats are done for the season, and we are gearing up for Hixon House Holiday Tours, our last special event of the year. Hixon House is on track to surpass last year’s final visitor count of 4,200 visitors!
Last month the Hixon House was featured at the state historic preservation conference, which was held here in La Crosse. Board President, Candace Brown, and Executive Director/ Curator, Peggy Derrick, led a workshop in how to develop an interpretive house tour, and how to train docents to give the tours. We are very proud of the job our docents do, and are pleased to be sharing our expertise with other museums from throughout Wisconsin.
LCHS gives tours to all sorts of groups and individuals, from senior citizens on bus tours to students from local schools. One bedroom upstairs has been redone as a gallery that tells the story of the Hixon family in La Crosse, and their many contributions to this community.
Maintaining an Historic Treasure
Besides giving tours and introducing visitors to La Crosse and Hixon Family history, we at the La Crosse County Historical Society are always kept busy maintaining and preserving what is an important part of local history. With so many visitors, you can imagine how much housekeeping we do!
The porches are doing what wooden porches always do, and this summer the floor of the front porch, under the library windows, was entirely replaced with volunteer labor and donations. It looks great, and large tour groups enjoy using it. Another big maintenance job this year was replacing the roof on the Visitors’ Center, which you may know as the wash house. That’s what the Hixon family called it, and what we still call it when we forget! Funding for that came from the now nearly-depleted campaign known as Phase II of the 2004 Hixon House restoration project. Part of Phase II funds were designated for the wash house, and we are happy to have accomplished that.
The copper roof over the Turkish Nook has been repaired, after water had come through and damaged the gold leaf on the ceiling. The repair to the ceiling is scheduled for this fall, and insurance should cover it. We have also been contending with a failing fire alarm system. With 27 smoke alarms, plus heat detectors and fire pulls, this is a crucial part of our security. A Hixon family member has generously helped to pay for replacing the fire alarm, and at the same time upgrading to an internet monitoring system. We both agreed that if Gideon Hixon were alive today he would certainly have Internet, and that we can’t do better than follow his proclivity for current and up-to-date technology.
The House Exterior
Historic Hixon House, like any other old house, needs ongoing upkeep. The next major project is to repaint the exterior. It was last done in 2005, and from the outside the house is looking pretty shabby right now, which is a downright shame, considering how magical the interiors are.
We will use Giving Tuesday- the Tuesday after Thanksgiving- to kick off a campaign to raise the $25,000 it is going to cost to paint the entire exterior of Hixon House.
LCHS is committed to preserving this historic legacy for future generations, but we need your help to do so. We are always exploring new ways to share the home's amazing stories with new audiences, and are grateful for the opportunity to do so because you can feel the magic of the place every time you step into it.
We hope you will join us in preserving this piece of the past, as well as Wisconsin's past, for future generations.
If you would like to help Paint the Hixon House you can click the Donate Now button below, that will take you to LCHS's website for donations via credit or debit card. You can also mail a check to our office at 145 West Ave South La Crosse WI 54601.