It’s my job to know a lot about our community – I work at the Visitors Bureau for goodness sake. Some of the things I know are really useful: the streetcar schedule, operating hours for Kenosha HarborMarket, and how many steps there are to get to the top of the Southport Lighthouse. On the other hand, some of the things I know are just useless information that would make me a shoe-in for first place in a Kenosha Trivia contest.
One of my favorite random pieces of knowledge, though, involves the building that is currently the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. I think I have a soft spot for this building because I can remember riding my bike with my neighbor from our Southport neighborhood to visit my mom while she was at work. At that time, this building was the Kenosha Public Museum and it was filled to the brim with stones, fossils, animals and dioramas. Yet, the exhibits were only part of my fascination with the museum.
This one-story building is in the Beaux Arts style – a decorative style that was popular in tandem with the Neo-Classical Revival – and sits on a limestone base that is faced with granitstone. Translation: It’s a huge stone building that is really heavy and very sturdy. In fact, it weighs 1,200 tons. As it should be, a federal architect designed it. But why would a federal designer be creating a plan for a museum? Simple: this building was not a museum originally. Nor was it located on the west side of Tenth Avenue.
Do I have your attention? The former Kenosha Public Museum, now the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, was originally the United States Post Office in Kenosha. It was located on the southwest corner of 56th Street and 8th Avenue (behind the current post office). The building was sold to the City for one dollar around 1933, when the new post office building was finished. So how did it get to its current location? This building was literally moved using giant wood rollers and screw jacks to raise it over a dozen feet in the air then slid on a rail system.
We get excited in our office when summertime rolls around and boats make their way down the streets of Downtown Kenosha toward the marinas. Can you imagine how crazy it would be to see a whole stone building rolling down the street?
For more information about the Dinosaur Discovery Museum building or other buildings in the Civic Center Historic District, visit this Historic District Tour.
Dinosaur Discovery Museum
5608 10th Avenue
Kenosha, WI 53140
Kenosha Public Museum
5500 1st Avenue
Kenosha, WI 53140