WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Birthplace of a Great State

WELCOME BACK

FIRST CAPITOL OPENS AUGUST 7

This season, we are excited to welcome visitors to First Capitol for general admission. See below for more information.

Opens on Aug. 7 | Saturdays & Sundays | 10 AM to 4 PM
Free admission

The Wisconsin Historical Society is committed to prioritizing the health and safety of our guests, members, and staff. Read the information below to learn about our 2021 health and safety protocols.

Our Story

WELCOME!

Discover the rugged origins of the first capitol of Wisconsin Territory, where legislators built the framework of law and order that evolved into our current state government.
Learn More

Explore the Site

Kids standing in front of a building at First Capital

Before Madison became the state capital, it was in the picturesque hamlet of Belmont where the first territorial legislature met in 1836 to build the framework for Wisconsin statehood. President Andrew Jackson signed the bill creating the Wisconsin Territory and appointed Henry Dodge as its first Territorial Governor. On July 4, 1836, Wisconsin Territory came into existence. In just 46 days, from October 25 – December 9, this legislature put over 40 laws on the books which established a judicial system, called for roads and railroads, and established Madison as the permanent capital city. At First Capitol, you’ll immerse yourself in the world of these founders, walking through the buildings where these important decisions were made.

When the legislature moved to Madison, Belmont’s political prominence faded. After the promised university and railroad bypassed the town, people and businesses moved from Belmont and the first capitol site was largely forgotten. In 1908, the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs began raising money for the site’s restoration, and in 1917 the state legislature purchased the Council House. The Council House was restored in 1924 and the Court House followed in 1956

Learn more about its history!

Explore

EXPLORE FIRST CAPITOL


COUNCIL HOUSE

See the Council House where territorial legislation was debated and voted on in 1836.
LEARN MORE!


COURT HOUSE

Visit the Court House to learn about early Wisconsin history.
LEARN MORE!


ABOUT US

Learn about the birthplace of the Wisconsin Territorial Government.
LEARN MORE!


PLAN YOUR VISIT

Begin planning your trip today! Tickets, Hours, Directions and more.
LEARN MORE!

For Your Health & Safety

reserve a spot. Tickets.

Advance
Registration

Advance registration is required for some events

Face Masks required. Mask.

Face Mask
Policy

Continue to wear face masks if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19

We're cleaning. Cleaning spray.

Daily Cleaning and Sanitizing

Daily cleaning & sanitizing enhanced at all facilities

Maintain Social Distance. Two people 6 ft apart.

Social Distancing Guidelines

Please practice social distancing while on-site

2021 Site Protocols

Effective June 1, in accordance with current state guidelines
  • To protect your safety and ours, if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 please continue to wear face masks while on-site at our historic sites and museums.
  • Please practice social distancing at our historic sites and museums.
  • Disposable masks will be available on-site.
  • All facilities will adhere to increased daily cleaning and sanitation requirements and there will be cleaning stations in each building.
  • Each location will follow strict guest engagement protocols, including parking, food preparation, and the use of shared facilities such as a public restroom.
  • Staff and guests, per CDC guidance, are asked to stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for COVID-19 test results, have COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for or who has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • As we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 our hours and guidelines for access may change. Please continue to check our website for the most up-to-date information.

Site Accessibility

Explore Other 2021 Experiences

This season, we are excited to welcome visitors to some of our historic sites & museums for general admission and special experiences. Click the button below for more information on how you can safely explore history in a new way through our 2021 programs and events.

GET INVOLVED

BACK TO TOP