The Monona Historical Museum houses dozens of historical exhibits including a telephone switchboard, victory bell, and the original Monona city jail. Here are some sneak peeks of other exhibits you’ll find when you visit the museum.
The bell is the original Monona School bell made in 1869. The bell was mounted on the Monona School building in 1870. That building was later known as the Northside Apartments. The bell was moved and erected in front of the present Monona School building in 1942. It became known as the “Victory Bell” from 1942 until it was removed in 1987. In the spring of 2001 it was located in the old barn building at the Luana School. The bell was taken to the Verdin Bell Co., in Cincinnati, Ohio to be restored to its original form. On June 14, 2002 workers placed the bell at its new home on the front lawn of the Monona Historical Museum. Items in the time capsule were sealed into the bell’s foundation before the rededication on July 4, 2002.
In 1926, a new Monona city building was erected. Housed in the rear of this building, which also housed the fire trucks, was a metal cage for restraining individuals. It had two cells. In 1949, when the fire station addition was built this “cage” was moved to the rear of the addition. A toilet was then added to each cell. April 17, 1978 Monona discontinued use of the City Jail and since that time prisoners were transported to the County Jail in Elkader. The County Sheriff was also given custody of the “cage”. Part was sold for scrap, while part was mounted for use as an overnight ”drunk tank” in Elkader. It served this purpose until 2006 when a new County Jail was built and the Monona jail came back home. It is now displayed in the Monona Historical Museum History Center. An original lock and key are also part of the display.
This is a switchboard with two operator stations. It was used in the days of party lines with only two long distance lines. The Luana and Monona Farmers Telephone Co. was organized in 1903. It is not known when this piece of equipment, made by Leich Electric Co., of Genoa Ill., was purchased. It was used until the dial system went into use in 1962. At that time the telephone operators were permanently retired.