If William S. Knight were alive, he would tell members of the Brodhead Historical Society to build something.

That’s what historical society President Jaine Winters believes.

The historical society is using money from Knight’s estate and the William S. Knight Foundation to build a 3,700-square-foot addition to its depot museum on Center Avenue in Brodhead.

The project will cost $495,000.

The museum has been in “desperate need” of temperature-controlled storage space for years, Winters said. The addition will house artifacts that are not on display, including vintage cheese-making equipment, musical instruments and broom-making tools.

Knight was an innovator who always backed projects that were “on the edge,” Winters said.

The Brodhead native was president of Knight Manufacturing, which made agricultural machinery. His father, Stanley Knight, founded the company in 1945.

The historical society considered options to upgrade the existing space, Winters said. Members thought building an addition would best honor the Knight family.

The addition will consist of an L-shaped extension that runs south behind the museum’s Milwaukee Road locomotive and caboose, and then east toward Second Avenue, according to a project presentation provided by Winters.

The addition will create a courtyard where historical Knight Manufacturing and Knight family tools and memorabilia will be displayed, Winters said.

The project broke ground in November and is expected to be finished by the museum’s opening Memorial Day weekend, she said.

The historical society contracted with Jim Gerisch of Dimension IV in Madison for the initial estimate and for construction management.

Knight Manufacturing was bought by Kuhn Agricultural Technology in 2002, according to the company’s website.

The depot was built as the Milwaukee Road depot in 1881. Brodhead was planned around the railroad and served as a hub for people coming and going by train, Winters said.

Originally a wood building, the depot was rebuilt in brick after a fire, Winters said.

The city owns the building and leases it to the historical society, Winters said. She considers the expansion a “community project.”

“We’re just so excited for another creative way for stuff to stay in our community,” she said. “We know our residents have a lot to offer.”

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