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The Hub of the Ephraim Historical Foundation

The center of the activities for the Ephraim Historical Foundation rests at the Anderson Barn.  It is home to the Anderson Barn Museum, which hosts the main exhibits for the season.

Be sure to experience a living history of Ephraim, Wisconsin at the Anderson Barn Museum.  General admission to the Museum is $5 for adults,$3 for children, and Children 5 and under are free.  Your General Admissioin includes an optional Walking Tour and Enterance into the Anderson Barn Barn Museum, along with our 3 other museums, the Anderson Store, the Pioneer Schoolhouse, and the Goodletson Cabin.



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Anderson Barn Loft a Perfect Place for Kid’s Play

Wisconsin HistoryLed by our mascot Bjorn, the Anderson Barn Loft is a great place for kids to play and learn.  Children have had hours of fun up in the loft.  This is truly a kids hangout; complete with dress-up opportunities, old time games, coloring, and hands on experience with history.



 Archival Resource Center

The ARC building was designed by Laura Davis, preservation architect with Isthmus Architecture, Inc. in Madison, WI and daughter of Nancy & Bob Davis. The building is over 3,400 sf and as of August, 2009, has been fully paid for – thanks to the many generous donations of Ephraim residents and foundation members!  It is the beautiful home to the Foundation’s administration offices, conference room, and archival materials and collections, which are stored in climate controlled areas in the ARC.  Please contact our offices if you have questions about the Foundation’s archival materials and collections.

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Foundation members or visitors may research family heritage at the ARC by making an appointment on Mondays between 2-4 pm, from our opening day in June through Labor Day.

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Anderson Barn History

It is difficult to discuss the Anderson Barn without first speaking about the Anderson Dock and Warehouse, and about the Anderson family in general.

Aslag Anderson was born in Arndaul, Norway in 1829.  He arrived in Milwaukee in 1849.  Aslag worked in Escanaba and Cedar Rapids, Michigan as a millwright.  In 1856, he and his friend, Peter Peterson, visited Ephraim and the Rev. Andreas Iverson.  Aslag has heard about about this fruitful town of Ephraim from his friend Cornelius Goodletson.

In 1858, Alsag and his brother Halvor bought 150 acres of shore front property from the Moravian congregation for $200 with the understanding that they would build a large serviceable pier from which lake vessels could take on cargo.

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Work began on the pier in 1858 and was of great importance to the village because the transportation lines between it and other areas of the state were poorly developed at the time.  The first warehouse was also built at this time. 

The pier enabled the settlers to supplement their meager incomes by shipping thousands of telegraph poles and fence posts to Illinois.  In time it became a port of call for many Lake Michigan shipping lines, bringing cargo and passengers alike.  It was the port for the Goodrich Transit Company, the largest of the Lake Michigan steamship companies.  However, the bankruptcy of the Goodrich Transit Company in 1934 dealt a major blow to the dock as a transportation center.  Roads became more developed and merchandise for the village began arriving by truck, and tourists arrived by bus or auto.

The original warehouse was destroyed by a storm and the second warehouse was destroyed by a fire in 1880, but was quickly rebuilt.  It is unlikely that anything remains of the original pier.  What was not burned down was tore out by ice, and what was left had to be greatly enlarged to handle the larger vessels.  The present dock with its pier and warehouse is the third on the present site.

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After the dock was completed, Aslag built the Anderson Store and then a nearby house for his growing family (there were 12 children who lived).  The house was built in 1864, and thereafter he built a small barn, and then a larger, more substantial one.  The present barn was probably built around 1880.  Here the Anderson family kept cows, horses, and chickens.  It was very much a part of the family’s large enterprise.

After Aslag died, his son Frank assumed responsibility for the barn and farm.  Frank loved animals and it was said that the animals loved him.  He enjoyed telling people that “My parents took me the barn in a baby carriage…and I never left.”  In the mid to late 1920s, this barn was Charley’s Riding Stables.  The horse stalls were in the lower gallery area, and one can still see portions of the stall structure where the horses gnawed at the wood.

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