Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum - Atlas Obscura

Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum

A hidden gem that highlights the life and innovations of Les Paul, the "Wizard of Waukesha." 

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One of the most famous residents of Waukesha County, located just outside of Milwaukee, is a wizard. But instead of potions or spells, his magic came in the form of music. The Wizard of Waukesha, better known as Les Paul, was a guitarist, songwriter, and inventor. At the Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum, you can learn about his early life, his insatiable curiosity, and his lifelong quest for the perfect sound.

Paul was born in Waukesha and discovered his love for music there. He began playing the harmonica at eight years old, then learned piano, guitar, and banjo. He invented a harmonica holder that could be worn around the neck, so he could play the wind instrument without letting go of the guitar. Announcers introduced him as the “Wizard of Waukesha” until his death in 2009.

The Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum celebrates Paul, and features several of his guitars and some of the recording equipment he used.

The museum also has rotating exhibits exploring other elements of the area’s history. These include Waukesha Springs Era, a period from the late 1800s to the early 20th century when the county’s springs were thought to have healing powers. People throughout the Midwest would come to the area to partake in the water and stay at its fancy hotels.

The museum and historical society are housed in the refurbished 1893 Courthouse.

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February 13, 2024

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