Browsing the Archives

Dust off the Agency House archives with us! Explore curiosities from old scrapbooks, fascinating documents, and more! Installments will be posted at the middle and end of each month in 2021.

January, Part 1: Snapshot of a Survivor

Time, nature, and human intervention too frequently conspire to end the lives of our nation's historic buildings. After the Fort Winnebago complex at Portage was sold in 1854, the process of disintegration began in earnest. Its stately buildings quickly began to disappear from the landscape. On the Agency hillside, over half a dozen outbuildings met their gradual end, leaving the Agency House as the lone survivor. By the turn of the century, the fort's commissary building was looked upon as the corresponding lone survivor among the military structures, although the clapboarded surgeon's quarters would be rediscovered in due time. Once housing the region's most valuable military stores, the commissary entered the 20th century housing cattle, its outside walls advertising Portage's latest new wares to horse-drawn travelers. Unfortunately, this structure is no longer in existence, but this photograph documents its tenacious grip on survival. The picture was recently rediscovered in an envelope which has been sealed for the past 60 years. It is one of few extant photographs of the ruins of Fort Winnebago!


Fort Winnebago Commissary Photo (circa 1898)

January: Part 2


Watch for this post at the end of January.

Coming soon!

History Rediscovered 2021

The Historic Indian Agency House

1490 Agency House Road, Portage, WI 53901


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