Whether you’ve got a slight interest or you’re a hardcore
history buff, dive deep into Douglas County’s history. Our museums and other
historical attractions give visitors the perfect mix of fun and learning.
Fairlawn Mansion Built in 1890 as the family residence of Martin and Grace Pattison and
their six children, this Victorian House Museum recalls the gilded age of
wealthy industrialists in American history. Martin Pattison made his fortune in
the mining and lumber industry. He served three terms as Mayor of Superior and
was considered a generous philanthropist in the community.
In 1920, after Martin’s death, Grace donated Fairlawn to the
Superior Children’s Home and Refuge Society. The mansion served the next 42
years as a place of shelter and care for disadvantaged children and young
women, making Fairlawn’s history unique among house museums.
Open to the public since 1964, Fairlawn’s main floor and
exterior were restored in 1999. Guided tours of the mansion include 14 of the
original 42 rooms. The main floor living area and select bedrooms on the second
floor are elegantly appointed in the Victorian style, with several original
pieces donated from the Pattison family. The large ballroom on the third floor
now features two exhibits showcasing the Children’s Home era, and presenting
significant steps in the restoration of the mansion.
Today, Fairlawn also serves as host to favorite community
events such as the Ice Cream Social and Holiday Sampler & Wine Tasting. The
site is also available for private rental, hosting weddings, anniversary and
birthday parties, dinners, luncheons, teas, murder mysteries and much more.
S.S. Meteor Maritime
Museum The S.S. Meteor, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the
last remaining of the innovative ships (called whalebacks for their rounded
hulls) designed by Captain Alexander McDougall. Launched from Superior in 1896,
she carried a variety of cargos on the Great Lakes, including iron ore, grain,
cars, and oil. In 1972, she was brought home to Superior and is now permanently
berthed on Barkers Island. Hear the ship’s whistle and see the original 1896
steam engine as you tour from pilothouse to cargo holds. The Museum also
features exhibits on Twin Ports shipbuilding history and Great Lakes
shipwrecks. Open seasonally.
A World of Accordions
Museum and Harrington ARTS Center If you think “polka” when you hear the word accordion, you are in for a
surprise! Housed in a stately old church of majestic brick and stained-glass
windows is the internationally renowned A World of Accordions Museum.
One-of-a-kind in the United States, and perhaps the world’s largest, the Museum
boasts a unique collection of more than 1,200 accordions, concertinas, button
boxes and other accordion family instruments—from the most rudimentary antique
instruments to the most intricately designed instruments from all over the
world. The museum also features technicians’ training, research libraries,
world-culture displays and performances by world-class artists in its
800-person concert hall.
Historical Society Tracing its roots back to 1854, the Douglas County Historical Society
serves as guardian to the history of immigration, industry and daily life in
Superior and Douglas County. DCHS resides in the historic Swedish Vasa Hall and
continues to provide education to Douglas County residents through its archival
research, community programs and history-based theatre on its renovated stage.
The Old Firehouse
& Police Museum Built in 1898, the Old Firehouse originally housed five horse-drawn rigs,
including the City’s first steamer. Home of Wisconsin’s Police & Fire Hall
of Fame, the museum offers a unique look at historic and present day
firefighting equipment, a toy fire engine collection and police memorabilia.
Each year the Hall of Fame honors Wisconsin police officers and firefighters
for outstanding acts of bravery and community service. Open seasonally. Free
Richard I. Bong
Veterans Historical Center Named for America’s Ace of Aces, the Veterans Historical Center honors the
men and women whose service and sacrifice have ensured our freedoms. Exhibits
include a rare P-38 Lightning World War II fighter, military vehicles and other
extraordinary artifacts that provide insights into the experiences of our
veterans. The Center is conveniently located on US Highways 2 and 53 along the
Superior Bay, a short drive to accommodations and other area attractions. Group
tours welcome. Glensheen Mansion Glensheen Mansion, perched on the north shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, is the most visited historic home in Minnesota. The 7-acre estate features gardens, bridges, and the famous 39-room mansion built with remarkable 20th century craftsmanship, telling the story of the Duluth region.
Chester and Clara Congdon built Glensheen between 1905 and 1908 as their home. This influential family is known for opening up iron mining in this region and setting aside land for public use, such as the North Shore Scenic Highway and Congdon Park.
Gawboy Murals at the
Superior Public Library Thirty-five colorful murals by talented Anishinaabe artist Carl Gawboy, a
member of the Bois Fort Band of the Minnesota Ojibwe, depict Douglas County’s
history beginning with the Ojibwe Nation’s Story of Creation and spanning the
next 150 years of development.
Historical Museum & Depot Explore our area and its ties with the railroad, lumber era and early
settlers. Originally a storehouse for the supplies and furs of trader Antoine
Gordon, founder of the Town of Gordon, the museum displays the collections of
the Historical Society of photos, government records, personal narratives and
items from the area’s past. The town’s Soo Line Depot built in 1912 was moved
to a site across from the Museum. Open Saturday and Sunday, Memorial Day to
Historical Museum Moved from the country to its current site, the John Beck Log Home has been
restored with turn-of-the-century furnishings and houses old ledgers and maps,
photos of Solon Springs (ca. 1900), logging photos, family photos and other
The Chamber and Convention & Visitor Bureau of Superior-Douglas County | Superior-Douglas County, Superior, WI 54880