Welcome to the Old Courthouse Museum and Jail
The MUSEUM features the original 2nd floor courtroom, six rooms of local history, & the old jail next door.
The Courtroom on the second floor recalls the feeling of a hundred years ago better than any other room in the building. It was used continuously for 110 years for community activities, teachers' symposia, and, of course, as the center of justice. Jury trials were held here from 1874 until 1984.
The southwest wall of the Center Hall is devoted to the building itself, which is the subject of the numerous drawings, photographs, paintings and three-dimensional works of art displayed. The hall also features: an interesting exhibit of millennia-old arrowheads, spear points and artifacts from the area’s earliest inhabitants; a farming display, copies of very old maps of the region, and an exhibit of the infamous shooting and lynching which occurred in Durand in 1881.
Room One displays are devoted: to America's greatest female educator, Helen Parkhurst; to the City of Durand's founder, Miles Durand Prindle; to the bridges crossing the Chippewa River at Durand; and, to a local artist, C. H. Gleason. Other artifacts of interest include statues and a crucifix carved by Michael Anibas in 1886; a Catholic eucharistic service set for the homebound, Mrs. Ethel Rayburn’s Papal Cross, and a replica of the one-room Maple Ridge School.
Room Two honors Pepin County’s men and women in uniform and the everyday lives of its citizens. Items of interest include: a rare, nearly complete collection of History of the War of the Rebellion (Civil War); photos and artifacts from the Civil War to the Viet Nam War and Civilian Conservation Corps; a display of children’s clothing and toys; an antique baby stroller; a log cabin doll house modeled on a 19th-century log cabin that stood in the Town of Waterville; the Dorwin's Mill 3-dimensional artwork by Vera Hawke; vintage police and fire-fighting equipment; a 1901 football helmet and sports uniforms; and a display featuring musicians, musical instruments and the still-working hand-crank Victrola record player.
Room Three is the household room featuring a 19th-century "Handy Washing Machine", plus products, tools and appliances used in and around the home, vintage clothing, a hand-pump vacuum, and a parlor stove.
Room Four focuses on health care professions with equipment, furnishings, and other artifacts from a doctor's and a dentist's offices, a former local hospital, a pharmacy, and a barbershop; also, the "politically incorrect" mile markers for Durand Drug Co. from the early 1900s.
The Tool Room and the adjacent hallway include tools used in construction, shoemaking, river rafting, farming, logging, and carpentry.
Room Five features artifacts from the former Durand railroad depot and old post office. Items of interest include the telegraph/Morse Code equipment, old scales, a hand-powered rail drilling tool, a boxcar mover, and a railroad car portable heater; plus numerous photographs, paintings and a scale model replica of the depot. Just outside the door to Room Five is an old hand-crank telephone.
The Jail next door to the Old Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and is significant for its original lattice-work iron cellblock which are rare in Wisconsin. The jail was still being used in 1984 despite having been determined by the state Division of Corrections as unfit for occupancy by prisoners.