Wisconsin Historic Preservation and Archaeology Month | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Wisconsin Historic Preservation and Archaeology Month

Wisconsin Historic Preservation and Archaeology Month | Wisconsin Historical Society

May is Historic Preservation Month and Archaeology Month in Wisconsin when we celebrate the preservation of historic places that help us understand our past. Each year, we release original posters and bookmarks featuring interesting historic places in Wisconsin.

Upcoming Events

    More Events

    Submit your Local Event to our Calendar

    The Wisconsin Historical Society promotes community events that meet our criteria for promoting historic places during Historic Preservation and Archaeology Month. You may submit your event to our calendar through our online form.

    2024 Historic Preservation and Archaeology Month Posters and Bookmarks

    Sardinia Shipwreck, Door County

    The 2024 Wisconsin Archaeology month poster is a color photo of an underwater archaeologist in scuba gear documenting the visible remains of the Sardinia shipwreck.

    Photograph by Tamara Thomsen

    Sardinia was built by the William Pidgeon shipyard in Penetanguishene, Ontario in autumn 1855 and launched into the Coldwater River in 1856. The vessel’s early career was in Canadian waters, but Sardinia later came to Lake Michigan where the vessel was homeported out of Chicago and then Milwaukee.


    As a work-a-day Great Lakes schooner, Sardinia had a turbulent history before it sank in 1900. In the fall of 1864, the vessel was wrecked on Lake Ontario and later rebuilt by George Goble. In 1869, the rigging was damaged in a storm on Lake Michigan. During its career, the vessel collided with other ships or piers four times. In one of these collisions, Sardinia nearly sank after colliding with the steamer Nebraska. On April 28, 1875, Sardinia was raised, rebuilt, and relaunched.


    Sardinia was a frequent visitor to Door County ports, where the schooner picked up cargoes of lumber for Chicago. On June 29, 1900, Sardinia stranded in Hedgehog Harbor near Gill's Rock in Door County. Though anchored in deep water and tied to Voight’s pier, a northwest wind blew up, causing the schooner to slam against the pier. The crew tried to prevent further damage by releasing both anchors, but the anchors dragged and the crew was forced to shorten the anchor chains to keep the ship from hitting the shore. After the winds increased to heavy gale force, the anchor chains parted and the schooner crashed into the rocky shore, driving two holes in the vessel’s hull. Plum Island Lifesavers tried to refloat the ship but were unsuccessful and Sardinia was abandoned.


    When launched, Sardinia was 105 feet long with a beam of 24.7 feet. Today, the schooner is broken up and lies on a sand/cobble bottom in 10 feet of water in Hedgehog Bay. Visitors to the bay may spot a centerboard trunk and centerboard next to a small dock crib, west of Weborg's Wharf. After the vessel was abandoned, Sardinia was used as a platform for fishing and diving and a tourist attraction as a relic of the days of sailing ships. Today the schooner’s remains are completely underwater.


    EnlargeThe 2024 Archaeology Bookmark features a color photo of the archaeological remains of the shipwreck H.D. Coffinberry exposed on a wooded beach.


    H.D. Coffinberry 

    The 2024 Archaeology Month bookmark features the wreck of H.D. Coffinberry. The hull of the steam screw H.D. Coffinberry lies exposed on the Lake Superior shore near Red Cliff, Wisconsin. The H.D. Coffinberry carried iron ore, grain, and lumber for nearly four decades. It was abandoned in Ashland in 1912, and gradually sank at dock. Wreckers towed the H.D. Coffinberry to Red Cliff Bay in 1917 and abandoned it there. The H.D. Coffinberry is one of many shallow water wrecks that visitors can enjoy in Wisconsin waters. 



    The 2024 Historic Preservation Month poster is a color image of the Grandview historic site which includes outdoor sculptures, the most prominent is a peacock in the foreground.

    Photograph by Dan Smith

    Designed by Nick Engelbert, Grandview is a museum and park space dedicated to educating and protecting folk art. The site contains the residence and folk art environment of Nick, an Austrian immigrant who was self-taught, and his pieces were highlighted by the plantings of his wife, Katherine. The property contains two buildings and 23 concrete sculptures or tableaux that adorn the lawn between the house and State Highway 39. Several sculptures have been partially reconstructed due to exposure to the elements; they were repaired or reconstructed closely following Engelbert’s original design and materials. Today, Grandview stands as an example of a vernacular landscape art environment from around 1937 to 1961.


    Nick’s artistic endeavors began around 1932 when he started creating sculptures following an ankle injury. His artwork utilized concrete embellished with readily available material that included clay, rocks, pottery, and glass. The family visited the nearby Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, which is most likely the inspiration behind his design. As the Engelberts children left home, Nick and Katherine’s artistic pursuits increased while their dairy herd slowly decreased as he neared retirement.


    In 1937, Engelbert directed his attention to the farmhouse after testing his technique on small sculptural pieces. He applied the same technique of concrete adorned with salvaged local materials onto the wood wall cladding of the house, covering all four sides in their entirety. Additionally, he attached a large, one-story pergola to the front of the house, using the same embellishment. After its completion, Engelbert continued to create individual sculptures and sculptural tableaux, populating his property with his designs. Katherine complemented the art with expansive flower gardens and plantings that surrounded each piece and provided buffers to protect them. The placement of each tableau was designed to create various viewpoints around the yard and connect each sculpture. As the Engelberts expanded their yard art, Nick’s sculptures and Katherine’s gardens grew to envelop the farmhouse and extend along the state highway, becoming a roadside attraction. As described by a local newspaper, “visitors come from far and near to see [Nick Engelbert’s] beautiful works of art . . . it is worth one’s time to see for oneself, as words are inadequate to describe their beauty.”


    The preservation of Grandview has been guided and executed by the Kohler Foundation beginning in 1991. When the Foundation acquired the property, the house was in fair condition, the barn had been demolished, the garage was dilapidated, and the landscape was overgrown. The Foundation initiated a restoration program that focused on stabilizing existing buildings and sculptures, recovering damaged and fragmented sculptures hidden in the landscape, creating an inventory of resources, and documenting the property history. After 1996, trained conservators began to restore, reproduce, or replicate sculptures.


    In 1997, the Kohler Foundation gifted the Engelbert property to the Pecatonica Educational Foundation (PEC), a local, non-profit organization created to be a steward of the property and operate the museum. PEC remains the current steward of the site and continues to work with the Foundation to hire qualified professionals to continue the conservation efforts.

    EnlargeThe 2024 Historic Preservation Month bookmark features a vertical, color photo of an outdoor sculpture depicting a reading figure.

    Reading Figure

    The 2024 Historic Preservation month bookmark features a Grandview sculpture that depicts a reading figure. 

    Learn More

    Submit Your Local Historic Preservation and Archaeology Month Event

    Archaeology Programs and Services

    Preserve Your Homes and Properties

    Have Questions

    Contact Amy Wyatt at amy.wyatt@wisconsinhistory.org.