The Waukesha Freeman Focuses On the Civil War Museum of Delafield

Dan Colton of the Waukesha Freeman Interviewed Bob Brown.

Civil War museum opening in Delafield 262-513-2661

DELAFIELD — Bob Brown just wanted an office where he could read his books.

But, starting next month, that office — or “man cave” as described by Brown — will be open to the public as the Civil War Museum of Delafield. And it’s free of charge.

The one-room museum in downtown Delafield isn’t filled with rare artifacts like muskets, uniforms and letters written by soldiers who fought in the war; instead, it is full of hand-painted wall and battle maps that catch the eye and tell a story.

Brown, 71, spent decades as a businessman before moving to Delafield with his wife last summer. Before long, he was inspired to transition the office to a museum after visiting a local arts festival. He noticed one young artist had a large collection of handdrawn maps, and after leafing through some of them, Brown stumbled upon a highly detailed map of the famous Pickett’s Charge during the battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

“So I found an overhead projector and decided to (paint) this map on my brick wall,” Brown said. It was one of the first steps towards transitioning from man-cave to educational display in what he described as a “labor of love.”

Brown moved to Delafield in June and rented a one-bedroom apartment with his wife. There wasn’t enough room to sit back, relax and read his volumes and maps which he’d spent years collecting, according to Brown.

But now, he has plenty of space to read in comfort and to share his love of history.

“I want to tell these stories,” Brown said. “I want people to learn ... I want you to come in and in 35 or 45 minutes to leave but to have learned something.”

When the museum opens to the public in March, Brown said each month will include a new battle display and educational pieces. He also said there will be presentations by authors and history experts to keep people coming back.

Another possibility, according to Brown, is to bring in small school groups for a lesson on the war.

He hopes people who come to shop in Delafield will take the time out to visit.

“The audience I want to capture ... are the couples who come to Delafield to shop,” Brown said. “If you’re going to shop in Delafield, put me on the list. Before you leave, stop in and see me.”

Brown is joined by Dick Niles, the resident historian at the museum and the driving force behind turning Brown’s office into an educational space to enjoy with the public.

Niles and Brown are clearly enthusiastic about their project. They sat around one of the big map tables and talked about the Civil War, discussing the triumphs and tragedies the war brought to the American people.

Brown said the Civil War is among the most-written about events in the nation’s history. He wants to deliver a slice of that at no cost to visitors simply because he loves it.

“How do you sum up 100,000 books and four years (of war) in an hour?” he asked. “How do you do that? You really can’t, but I can take a swing at it.”

Brown said the museum is tentatively set to open March 15 for a special event featuring the history of the war through the Battle of Bull Run starting at 6:30 p.m. Register for the event at www.civilwarmuseumdelafield. com or email

Brown said normal hours will likely be set from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.

The museum is located at 528 Wells Street, Suite F.

Visit the museum’s Facebook page for more information at

A look inside the upcoming Civil War museum in Delafield. Curator Bob Brown said the museum is opening with a special event March 15.

Photo courtesy of Bob Brown

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