Based out of Stillwater, “The Birthplace of Minnesota”, the Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of Washington County and its communities.  Join us on our journey through the Gateway to Minnesota History!



Writing on the Wall: A History of Graffiti on Sunday June 24 at 2pm

The Washington County Historical Society is pleased to have Alyssa Auten join us for an exciting and free presentation on the history of graffiti at the Historic Warden’s House in Stillwater.

We’ve all seen spray painted graffiti on train cars and under bridges. But did you know the act of graffiti has been present for thousands of years, in the form of carvings and writing on surfaces? Often, one even finds writing on the walls in their own homes and structures – in a basement, on the side of a barn, or behind plaster walls. At this talk, you’ll learn about the psychology of graffiti, the vast history of graffiti, why we should study graffiti and how to preserve important graffiti in your own spaces. You’ll even learn about graffiti located within the Warden’s House and throughout Stillwater/Washington County!

Alyssa Auten is a consultant with a background in historic architecture, design, and non-profit management. Alyssa received her BSAS in Architectural Studies from UW-Milwaukee and an MSc in Historic Building Conservation from the University of Bath in England. She spent the last ten years working in cultural heritage institutions like the Folsom House Historic Site in Taylors Falls and the Nicollet County Historical Society in St. Peter. She has consulted on preservation projects for the City of Lindstrom, the Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative and the St. Croix Regional Medical Center. Alyssa and her husband recently moved back to the St. Croix River Valley and she works as the Marketing and Creative Manager for Franconia Sculpture Park.

Museums are Open for the Tour Season

The Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater is available for group tours  contact Gibson Stanton, Site Manager at or 651.439.5956 to schedule.

WCHS Latest Publications

Company K in the Border War

In 1916, Company K of the Stillwater National Guard was dispatched to the Mexican Border to defend against attacks from the famous Mexican rebel, Poncho Villa. Through letters and photographs from the WCHS collection, “Company K in the Border War” details the in-glamorous reality these Stillwater men faced while stationed in Texas.

This book recently won a Minnesota History Award for publications!!

Thru the Mill

Originally published in 1915, “Thru the Mill” was written by inmate number “4342”, George Bartlett, who served ten months in the old Stillwater Prison. This book is his account of life behind the stone walls of Minnesota’s most infamous prison.

 Want to help support your local history? Here’s your chance!

The Washington County Historical Society is the only county historical society in Minnesota that receives no annual assistance from their county.

We are 100% reliant on your generosity.

Thank you for helping us save our shared stories and history!

Museum and Research Center Hours

Research Center
602 Main Street N., Stillwater
Open year-round
Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays 12:00-5:00 PM, Wednesdays 3:00-9:00 PM
Please call ahead or email to confirm research center availability.
(651) 439-5956 |

Warden’s House Museum
602 Main Street N., Stillwater
May – October: Thursdays – Sundays 1:00-5:00 PM.

Hay Lake School and Johannes Erickson Log Home
14020 195th St N, Marine on St Croix
May, September, October: Saturdays & Sundays 1:00-4:00 PM
June-August: Fridays – Sundays 1:00-4:00 PM

Eder School House
4442 Hadley Ave N, Oakdale, MN
June – August: Sundays 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM