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Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus Listed in the State Register of Historic P | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus Listed in the State Register of Historic Places

For Immediate Release (September 21, 2021)

Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus Listed in the State Register of Historic P | Wisconsin Historical Society

Town of New Glarus, WI. - The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus (Town of New Glarus, Green County) on the State Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2021.

The Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus and Park is associated with Swiss heritage including the tradition of schuetzenfests (sharpshooting contests) and has been the site of the annual Volksfest, which celebrates Swiss culture and music, since 1929. The Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Verein (also known as the Wilhelm Tell Rifle Club) incorporated in 1870. In Switzerland, national defense was regarded as the responsibility of citizens, and schuetzen vereins (“sharpshooters clubs”) were organized to practice marksmanship in preparation for protecting the community. Schuetzen vereins reached the height of their popularity in the U.S. after the Civil War in communities with Swiss or German immigrants across the nation.

As was typical of Swiss schuetzen verein, the Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Verein was a social organization as well as one that prepared for defense. The Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Verein purchased the current site of Schuetzen Park in 1879. The men gathered at least monthly on Sunday afternoons from late spring to early fall to practice. These were family events with food, drink, music, and Swiss bowling (played outdoors). The club generally held four schuetzenfests per year and sent representatives to state and national sharpshooting events. In 1907, the year the Schuetzen Haus was built, the four-man New Glarus team was the toast of the schuetzen, winning many prizes at the five-day national competition held in Charleston that year, to the astonishment of their Eastern competitors. Among all contestants, J.M. Schmid earned the top score, and was crowned national Schuetzenkoenig (King of the Marksmen). His prize was a gold medal, reputedly a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm. To their delight, the men were feted not only by crowds that met them at the New Glarus train station on their return, but also in Switzerland’s annual “National Schuetzenfest Official Guidebook.” Tell Schuetzen Haus and Park hosted the biennial statewide sharpshooting competition in 1908, the biennial nine-state regional sharpshooting contest in 1917, and regular sharpshooting matches every year through at least 1933, and intermittently thereafter until circa 1960. The Wilhelm Tell Schuetzen Haus is one of only two known surviving schuetzen hauses in the state and is significant for perpetuating Swiss culture.

The State Register is Wisconsin's official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin's heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.

To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org