H. H. Bennett Studio, Wisconsin Dells

4.6
#10 of 46 in Historic Sites in Wisconsin
The H. H. Bennett Studio is a historic photographic studio and photography museum located in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, United States. The studio building was built in 1875 by noted landscape photographer H. H. Bennett. It was operated by his family until 1998, when the studio was donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Today the studio, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as a historical museum.HistoryH. H. Bennett began his career as a photographer in 1865, when he bought a portrait studio in Kilbourn City (now Wisconsin Dells) from local photographer Leroy Gates. Although there was little demand for portraits in the area, Bennett was able to achieve fame for a series of photographs he took of the nearby Dells of the Wisconsin River. As Bennett's pictures of local scenery became popular in cities across the nation, sightseers began to flock to Kilbourn City to view the Dells in person. Bennett capitalized on this by offering the tourists souvenir postcards and portraits, and was able to build a new red brick studio in 1875. This is the structure that still stands in Wisconsin Dells today. In addition to operating as a typical photographic studio, Bennett's studio functioned as a gift shop and information center for the surrounding area, selling souvenirs and crafts to visitors.At the studio, Bennett devised a number of new technologies to advance his photography. Among the most notable of his creations was his revolving solar printing house. Printing photos in Bennett's time required light, and because electricity was not available, sunlight was needed for Bennett to print any pictures. However, in order to ensure that he had sufficient sunlight throughout the day, Bennett needed a way to move his workspace while the sun moved in the sky. In order to achieve this, he constructed a small building with skylights, and mounted it upon rollers that rode a circular track outside his studio. Then, using a cable and pulley system, he was able to move the printing house around the track as often as needed to ensure optimum sunlight for printing. Bennett's unique creation is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
202 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • August 9, 2017
    Great rainy day activity--go early so you can hog the interactive exhibits. Some of the photos become repetitive throughout the museum; however, they are presented in various unique ways...as you ente...  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    Very interesting information in this museum. Actual old cameras and the developing studio also. Friendly staff.  more »
  • July 30, 2017
    I would definitely recommend this museum. It was one of the best things I did in the dells. It is hand on and interactive. I like to know the history of places I visit and this place did that. It is a...  more »
Google
  • June 14, 2017
    The museum is small but filled with priceless artifacts, including a walk through his photo studio. My family learned so much about Mr. Bennett and his impact to society and technology. This is a MUST SEE if you ever visit this city and you are interested in life changing history.
  • July 2, 2017
    Absolute hidden gem. Historic pics of wisconsin dells. Met HH Bennett's great granddaughter. A breath of fresh air from trinket stores in the area.
  • June 20, 2017
    I lov this place, it's like time traveling back in time to the 1800's! It is incrediable to see so much artifacts inside, like old time cameras to other intresting items! I love the gift shop and can't wait to visit this place again this July of 2017!!! We are so very excited we are huge fans of the Wisconsin Dells for over ten years! We try to visit as much historical sites as we can in the area each year we covered so many and we go to them twice, every other year! I wanna buy some more new items this year and see what's new too! Thank You and see you soon! ;)
  • June 28, 2017
    really cool place...lots of great info on how wisconsin Dell's came to be...
  • March 11, 2017
    Pretty cool place to visit if your into photography

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Where to stay in Wisconsin Dells

With over 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 3,000 campsites, Wisconsin Dells offers a staggering choice in accommodations for those on vacation. You can choose anything from economical inns and motels, to amenity-rich hotels and vacation home rentals. Many visitors choose to stay at the waterpark resorts, offering comfortable rooms packed with high-tech features. If you wish to stay away from the big crowds, book a room at one of the area's cozy bed and breakfasts, providing free Wi-Wi and secure parking. If you like the great outdoors, pitch a tent at a wooded campground.
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