Although history is written by the victors, defeated forces console themselves with graffiti describing how the victors cheated. Get the full story with today’s Groupon: for $7, you get two tickets to The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton (up to a $15 value). Children younger than 5 are free.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its storied past as a Masonic temple, The History Museum at the Castle preserves Appleton’s history and heritage with a slew of artifacts. Explore the life story and routines of regional legend Ehrich Weiss, better known as Harry Houdini, in the AKA Houdini exhibit. Guests can learn secrets behind the magician's most famous accomplishments, such as the escape from a water-torture cell and the invention of surfing. Meanwhile, the Sports & Spirit exhibit (open through September 11) highlights the bonds between organized sports and the Fox Valley community with local relics such as Alex Rodriguez’s bat from the Appleton Foxes and a 1920s Freedom baseball uniform. Or visually relive the past in Picturing Main Street (also through September 11), a collection of postcards chronicling the glory days and flirtatious traffic lights of Appleton’s College Avenue, Neenah’s Wisconsin Avenue, and Little Chute’s Main Street.
The History Museum at the Castle
Harry Houdini was legendary for his daring escapes, but he's still never escaped the public's imagination. To wit: AKA Houdini, whose artifacts offer a hands-on glimpse into some of his most infamous tricks. Along with the Appleton-raised illusionist, The History Museum at the Castle's award-winning exhibits focus on other notable Fox Valley natives, including Senator Joseph McCarthy. Dating back to the 1840s, the museum's collection of Fox Valley artifacts includes 35,000 photographs and 20,000 pieces, such as parts of a vintage gas station. At an exhibit tracing the origins of the area's most famous foods, such as frozen custard and fish fries, visitors can even spear sturgeons inside a life-size virtual ice shanty.
These pieces of Fox Valley history are housed inside a Masonic temple listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1923, the temple exemplifies the medieval, Norman Revival style with rough-hewn stone, vaulted ceilings, and fire-breathing dragons guarding its entrance. Designed as a community center, the temple continues to serve that function by hosting the museum's year-round events, including papermaking programs and magic workshops.