Port Washington, Wisconsin, is a community founded in 1835 by immigrants and Yankees looking to establish a new beginning on the western shore of Lake Michigan. They came from the eastern United States, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland and other European countries, hoping to escape famine and poverty to settle in a land of forests, water, hope and possibility. Many came as entrepreneurs. One such early arrival was Leland Stanford, who practiced law in Port Washington from 1848 to 1852, and later went to California where he founded what is now Stanford University. Over generations these settlers built homes, established businesses and raised families.

The Port Washington Historical Society strives to preserve the stories of the community, its people and its rich history. Since its founding in 1991, the organization has restored three significant historical buildings:

  • An 1860 lighthouse now open to visitors depicting the life of a keeper of the light that guided seafarers
  • An 1852 commercial building that serves as its archive center and office
  • A 1907 commercial building to be used as a local history interactive museum

Oral history recordings, walking tours and historic markers provided by the Historical Society give glimpses into the area’s fascinating past.

We invite you to experience the past and present of this picturesque community on the beautiful Lake Michigan shore. Information about Port Washington can be found at the Port Washington Historical Society Resource Center, 205 N. Franklin Street, and at www.visitportwashington.com.

Click here to visit our Galleries!

1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Museum
Port Exploreum
Resource Center




Currently at the Resource Center, an exhibit on World War I tells the stories of some of the men and women that served overseas and of those that stayed behind to support their efforts. One such story is that of Pvt. F. W. Boerner, a wagoner with the Supply Company of the 127th Infantry. Boerner recorded his time in France and Germany through diary pages and a calendar. Click here for an interactive account of his time overseas.