The town of Thorp has historical roots dating back to the earliest days of Wisconsin’s founding. Now, thanks to a collection of locals, those roots are on display.

“In 1994, the Historical Society was first begun. The founding members met and set up the museum in the old rectory out by the Saint Hedwig’s Church out in the country.

Sue Klapatauskas is the President of the Thorp area Historical Society, though that wasn’t always what she had in mind.

“I first became a member after I had retired from teaching. I was invited to one of the meetings and when you go to a meeting, sometimes you become the president.”

Aside from housing items from Thorp’s history, the historical site also houses a telephone museum, an American rarity according to Klapatauskas.

“When we first decided to lease this building, Dave and Connie Keating approached one of our members and said, would you be interested in sharing the building with us? And so, in this side we have the Telephone Museum, it’s one of only two or three in the nation.”

Working alongside Klapatauskas are Kyle Alger and Lindsey Nalechek. For the Thorp natives, joining the society was a combination of passion for history and hometown pride.

“I just always have been fascinated since I’ve been young. I’d like to come up here when I was younger too. I just feel like a lot of people don’t take pride in where they live. It’s good to get involved, and you kind of see what the community has to offer and get out there and get with the people. And then you realize that hey, this is really a special place to live.”

I recently had the opportunity to relocate back to thorp and just the family history of what we’ve done, along with the names that you hear throughout the years and the stories of working retail and getting to know people, it’s just really neat to be a part of something that is so much bigger than yourself.”

As younger members of the society, Alger and Nalechek emphasize the importance of youth involvement with organizations like the Historical Society.

“Younger people get active, get involved, otherwise groups and organizations like this will just fall by the wayside and die out. So, we need more younger blood. Get involved.”

According to Thorp residents, Sue and the Society’s efforts are paying off, even inspiring some to volunteer themselves.

“Sue was really good, very gracious about giving us the time that we needed here. That’s one reason I wanted to volunteer because like I told Sue, I can help when people do want to see it. I want to be here to help them.”

“We’d like to see it continue to go on for people to know the history of Thorp and the businesses and people that are here and others that aren’t here today that are going to keep it going.”

Klapatauskas says it’s these types of interactions that inspire her to keep things going and reinforce her belief in the museum’s importance.

“It has been so heartwarming. Different people would come and bring their families or bring their parents., so it’s been so rewarding. Rewarding seeing the joy that it brings people. I’m very blessed.”

Due to their limited numbers in staff, the historical site and museum is open by appointment only.  More information on how to become involved or to schedule a tour can be found on our website.