The Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society, Inc. was founded by a small group of women who were dedicated to the retention of the early history of Brown County, its artifacts and early buildings. The Society was formed in 1923. The Antiquarian Society is a 501c3 charitable organization accepting gifts, bequests and donations that support our mission: "To hold, purchase, preserve and acquire antiquities and real estate to perpetuate the history of the locality surrounding Green Bay and the State of Wisconsin".
Since 1957, the Green Bay De Pere Antiquarian Society has hosted yearly antique shows to fund the preservation and restoration of antiquities that are placed in local historical buildings, museums and other community facilities and projects throughout the Green Bay, Wisconsin area.
Preserving local heritage and making it accessible to the public is the mission of the Green Bay and De Pere Antiquarian Society. Over the past few years this active non-profit, charitable organization has embarked upon several ambitious projects that have taken the organization around the world.
One of these projects is the Cultural Heritage Community Campaign. With the help of many volunteers and private donors, this undertaking allowed the Green Bay & Antiquarian Society to raise the necessary $1.2 million dollars necessary to purchase historical artwork and artifacts significant to Wisconsin, the local Green Bay community, and American history.
It is from these American artifacts and art works (the "Heritage Collection") that two rare paintings were discovered and ultimately restored and conserved: the Rufus B. Kellogg portrait, and the painting that now known as the Hospitality of St. Julian (aka The Prodigal Son).
The stories, origins, and histories of these valuable art pieces was told (as much as is possible to date), during an exciting unveiling event held October 8, 2010, at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay. Entitled, "The Extraordinary Unveiling of the Conserved Paintings of Rufus B. Kellogg & Hospitality/The Prodigal Son," this exciting event was hosted by the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society, in partnership with the Neville Public Museum. Associated Bank sponsored the event.
Some of the Society's first purchases were four rosewood chairs owned by the Otto Tank family, a table belonging to the family of Zachary Taylor and the lobby mirror and table from the original Astor Hotel. In 1934, the Society filed incorporation papers with the State of Wisconsin and the first official meeting as a corporation was held June 1, 1934.
Founder, Mrs. Jessie Hurlbut Buchanan,often loaned money to the group to purchase artifacts. She was repaid after a series of afternoon teas that served as fundraisers. Over the years the Society has also paid for repairs, restoration and cleaning of artifacts and buildings. The main focus is acquisition and restoration.
A continuing policy of the Antiquarians is that the Society retains ownership of any artifact it acquires. All Antiquarian artifacts are on loan to the organization using, storing or displaying them.
During World War II, the Society was inactive to allow members to participate in the war effort. However, after the war the Society became very active again and established the annual antique show. The Society has been instrumental in furnishing and decorating the Roi-Porlier-Tank Cottage, Cotton House, Baird Law Office, Hazelwood, White Pillars and Fort Howard Hospital Museum group. This year the Society is sponsoring its “Fifty-First Holiday Antique Show” to raise funds to fulfill its mission.
To date, the Society has gifted, through a Grant Program, over $500,000.00 to the Green Bay Catholic Diocesan Museum, Brown County Historical Society (Hazelwood), Heritage Hill State Historical Park, National Railroad Museum, Neville Public Museum, White Pillars, and Woodlawn Cemetery.
In 2006, the Society completed its five-year grant pledge of $25,000 for the restoration of the Green Bay City Stadium.
In December of 2006 the Brown County Library accepted the proposal by the Antiquarian Society to purchase the cultural assets owned by the library. They include the Abraham Lincoln signed photo, presidential letters, artwork, paintings, oriental textiles, sculptures that were gifted to the library prior to a museum being established in Green Bay. By initiating a $1.3 million dollar community wide campaign “Save our Cultural Heritage” ensured the community’s cultural assets, which have national significance, would be retained and preserved locally for current and future generations. This community campaign was successful and the Society presented a check for $1.2 million dollars to the library on December 14, 2007. The campaign continues to fundraise and meet its goal of $1.3 million for restoration and conservation of the art treasures.
The Green Bay De Pere Antiquarian Society is grateful to all who support its mission!