Delavan’s days gone by on display

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007
— Delavan has always been home for Norene Joppa Nelson.

Now she’s turned her house into a home for Delavan.

Nelson has spent the last year creating the Joppa House Museum in her downtown house at 122 N. Second St. Using treasures she started collecting as a child, Nelson has packed the small, two-story, white house with a myriad of Delavan-themed icons.

Nelson, 72, plans to someday donate her collection to the city.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl,” Nelson said. “Everywhere I went I would have to collect Delavan stuff. It became more stuff, and more stuff and more stuff!”

Nelson has done the majority of her collecting in the last 10 years, she said, and has gathered Delavan antiques from across the United States. For example, Nelson found antique posters from Bradley’s Department Store, 222 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan, in Boston. Bradley’s is not a chain.

Karen Wuttke, owner of Remember When, an antiques store at 313 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan, has helped Nelson search for some of the items in her collection. Wuttke also framed some of the pieces and made curtains for many of the rooms.

“We keep telling her that she’s running out of room,” Wuttke said. “But she always seems to find another inch.”

The public is welcome to tour Nelson’s home. There is no charge, but donations are welcome.


To tour The Joppa House Museum, 122 N. Second St., Delavan, call Norene Joppa Nelson at (262) 728-7061.


Dan Costello of Racine and William Coup of Delavan were running successful circuses when they decided to go for the brass ring.

In 1871, they combined their talents with P.T. Barnum’s money to create P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome, the forerunner to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Performers and animals from 26 circuses wintered in Delavan from 1847 to 1894.

Source: “A Panoramic Exhibition of the first 100 Years of The Greatest Show on Earth,” published in 1970 and distributed, among other places, at a performance in the Dane County Coliseum.

Last updated: 4:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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