Historic Sawyer Home grounds

Historic Sawyer Home

Close-up view of carved woodwork in the Historic Sawyer Home


The cornerstone of the Oshkosh Public Museum is the Historic Sawyer Home, an English Tudor Revival style home built in 1908 by Edgar P. and Mary Jewell Sawyer. The Sawyers hired Oshkosh architect William Waters for the architecture.

The 17,6000 square foot home is constructed of Indiana brown brick and Bedford limestone. The Sawyers included all the modern conveniences of the time. Mary Jewell Sawyer's limited mobility required an elevator to service all four floors. The Sawyers also installed electric and gas service and a coal-fired boiler for hot water.

Since 1924, the Sawyer Home has been the home of the Oshkosh Public Museum. 

Home of Distinction

The Historic Sawyer Home includes unique and rare interiors designed and furnished by Tiffany Studios of New York. Tiffany Studios highlighted the Sawyer Den and attached Sun Parlor in promotional catalogs.

Accents included stained glass windows, wall treatments, carvings, bronze grilles, and light fixtures. The Sawyer's prominent status in the lumber industry is visible in their home. Distinct hardwoods characterize each first-floor room.

The home included many spaces within its 17,600 square feet:
These included a parlor, dining room, library, many bedrooms, ballroom, and billiard room.

Historic Sawyer Home den
The Oshkosh Public Museum


Edgar and Mary lived in the home for only around a year. While travelling, Mary passed away from heart failure. After Mary's death, Edgar no longer wanted to live in the home they had built together.  In October 1922, Edgar donated the home to the City of Oshkosh in memory of his beloved wife. His only stipulation was that the home be used for “benefit for the public.” In November 1924 the building became the home of the Oshkosh Public Museum.

Today, the Sawyer Home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior of the building underwent extensive restoration after the Museum fire of 1994. The quality and accuracy of the restoration earned the Oshkosh Public Museum awards from both the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Association for State and Local History.

Who were the Sawyers?

Edgar Sawyer was born in 1842 to parents Philetus and Melvina Sawyer in New York. Philetus and Melvina settled their young family of two sons to Oshkosh in 1849. Philetus' status rose in the lumber industry and he entered public life as a politician. He served in the state assembly, as Mayor of Oshkosh, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. 

As Philetus’s political career grew, Edgar took over much of his father’s lumber business. He too was a savvy businessman and made many investments that diversified the Sawyer family’s wealth.

Mary (Jewell) Sawyer was also born in New York in 1842 and moved to Oshkosh as a child with her parents. Mary and Edgar married in 1864. Mary was an intelligent woman known for her community involvement and Mary Jewell Park in Oshkosh is named for her.

Philetus, Melvina, Edgar, and Mary Sawyer are all buried at Riverside Cemetery, Oshkosh. 


Sawyer Family