In 1926, Mary Livingston Griggs, a summer resident of the lake region near Cable, Wisconsin, provided funds to build a log and fieldstone community house and reading room in Cable. This building, now home to the Forest Lodge Library, has functioned for many years as the public library for the region. In 1967, the original building of the Cable Natural History Museum was built by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation of St. Paul, Minnesota, as a tribute to Mrs. Burke’s mother and a gift to the town of Cable. The Forest Lodge Library was incorporated with the Museum at this time and was physically connected to the Museum by a glass walkway.
The Museum first showcased the art and natural history collections of lifelong Cable resident Lois Nestel, who became the Museum’s first director. Lois was a self-taught naturalist, taxidermist, and artist. Her collection included paintings and drawings, taxidermy mounts, natural history manuscripts, models, and preserved specimens.
Shortly after incorporation, Mrs. Burke granted the Museum use of 40 acres of her property 10 miles east of Cable for development of a nature trail. Subsequently, the Nature Conservancy mortgaged for the Museum 40 adjacent acres that included a house, garage, shed, and apartment. The tenants turned over to the Museum their life lease in 1989, and the Mendelsohn property, as it was called, is now the site of the Jackson Burke House, a facility that provides housing for Museum interns and guests. The acreage, together with Mrs. Burke’s property, also is the site of the Forest Lodge Nature Trail, maintained by the Museum and open to the public.
The Museum has grown a great deal over the years. The Museum facility itself has been expanded and old exhibits have been rejuvenated and new ones added. More staff has joined the Museum and volunteer and internship programs have been developed. Museum programming today includes an extensive school outreach program that reaches students and teachers in 14 school districts across northwestern Wisconsin. Area residents and visitors can now take advantage of many Museum programs, including the Junior Naturalists summer program, the summer Joseph Jenkins lecture series, and field trips throughout the year.
We have reached a milestone in Museum history! Due to a combination of Museum growth and the age and small size of the original Museum building, in 2005, the board of directors decided to remove the old structure and build a new, larger facility that houses exhibits, collections, an educational classroom, and administrative offices. The construction project began in September 2007.
The new facility opened to the public on Saturday, August 23, 2008, located at our original location on County Highway M in downtown Cable.
The Museum strives to ensure the accessibility of its exhibitions, events, and programs to all persons with disabilities.
The town of Cable is located at the junction of Highways 63 and County Hwy. M in northwestern Wisconsin’s Bayfield County. It is approximately 40 miles south of Ashland, 17 miles north of Hayward, and 50 miles southeast of Superior.