Being a Hixon House Docent (tour guide) is one of the most involved and rewarding volunteer opportunities at the La Crosse County Historical Society.
A typical day for a volunteer at the Hixon House begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. It is possible to do a half day as well. A docent’s job is to welcome visitors and guide them through the Hixon House, answer questions, and watch to make sure nothing in the house is damaged by visitors. (The gift shop is run by our regular staff and is not part of the docent program.)
Each tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and, unless the house is very busy, you should have about an hour off between tours. Usually we try to have two docents at the house so that no one has to do every tour. You will have to be able to climb stairs and stand for at least 45 minutes at a time. Docents must be high school age or older.
All docents receive training on how to conduct a tour, basic principles of artifact handling, and the history of the house and of the Gideon and Ellen Hixon family. Docents can give tours in period dress if they feel comfortable doing so.
We try to give visitors the feeling that they have just stepped back in time 100 years, and docents are encouraged to wear historic costumes. We can help you find a costume. If you buy or make your own costume, it can be nearly any style you like that is historically correct from about 1895 to 1913.
Some ideas include a simple “Gibson girl” high-collared white blouse and a long A-line or gored skirt, a 1890s bicyclist outfit, a vest, tie and pants for men, sporting outfits, a tea gown, a man’s smoking jacket, or a walking skirt. Women don’t have to wear a corset unless they want to! Also, no bustles or hoops are allowed inside the house. Neither is really correct for the time period anyway.
Period dress is not required however, and docents also give tours dressed in appropriately "business casual" attire.
For more information about becoming a Hixon House docent, please contact the La Crosse Historical Society at 608-782-1980.