By Melanie Rossi
GREEN BAY – The Howard-Suamico Historical Society (HSHS) is a nonprofit organization that looks to the past, preserving the history of Howard and Suamico for the residents of today.
According to their mission statement, the HSHS hopes to “promote awareness” of both villages’ histories through preservation, specifically “identifying, recording, managing and providing access to their information.”
HSHS members approach this preservation work in many ways, but some of their biggest projects involve the maintenance of historic buildings in the villages.
Tim Rasmussen, president of the HSHS, said, “We’ve got a house, a barn, a granary and now we’ve just moved a school. So, we’re saving some old buildings which we are hoping to make open to the public.”
Their Ancestry Acres project focuses on restoring Robert and Elizabeth Vickery’s house, barn and grounds from the 1870s, and for their work on the project, the HSHS won the Brown County Historical Society’s Historic Preservation Award in 2019.
The Tremble School project is focused on renovating the one-room Suamico school that was originally built in 1916 and held classes until 1964; it is the organization’s current biggest project.
“For a lot of this, once it’s gone it’s gone,” Rasmussen added. “The house here is an 1870s house, the barn is 1870s and it was in very poor shape, but we were able to restore it and get it back to its original glory — actually better. The school we just moved was a 1960s, and it was the last one-room school that the Howard-Suamico School District still owned; there were 13 or 14 one-room schools that were in the district at the time. So, we were able to move it here, and we’re working on restoring and repairing it.”
Because of the differences in modern education as compared to the past, Rasmussen noted that opening the school room to the public can be especially valuable for Howard and Suamico residents.
“The one-room school is really unique because all the kids today go to class, and they have like six first grade classes in one school. Well this was first through eighth in one room, so they’ll learn how it was done back in the old days.”
By repairing these buildings and restoring them to their original look and feel, the group allows the public a glimpse into their village’s — and their ancestors’ — past.
“We’ve got about 7,500 photos in our collection right now… and we make those open to the public,” Rasmussen said. “Let’s say you want to see your grandparents and we have pictures of them, that building is open twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesdays. We have a lot of genealogy… and we open that so people can come in and read about people in the old days.”
The group’s annual banquet, held on June 1, involves the election of their officers and a celebration of another year of the HSHS — Rasmussen explained that “it’s more of a party” than a meeting.
The banquet is open to visitors, allowing them to meet with members of the HSHS and learn updates about the group’s projects and upcoming goals.
For more information on the Howard-Suamico Historical Society, visit https://hshistoricalsociety.org.