Goodhue County Historical Society serves as the steward for county history by collecting, preserving, and promoting the natural and cultural history of Goodhue County through education and outreach.
Minnesota’s oldest county historical society, the Goodhue County Historical Society was chartered in 1869. After residing for 37 years in the basement of the County Courthouse, the Society moved into the Baptist Old People’s Home building on College Hill in Red Wing in September of 1969. Between 1989 and 1992, the building was remodeled to increase storage and exhibit space.
The History Center is handicapped accessible.
1869-“Old Settlers Association” was founded – the first county historical society in Minnesota. Rev. J. W. Hancock was elected president. The purpose of the organization was “preserving the memories of old times and keeping up the fond relations of the old-time boys.” (Goodhue County Republican)
1905 – The Association was reorganized and added “collecting and preserving records and artifacts” to the previously stated purpose of “awakening and maintaining interest in the early history of Goodhue County.”
1906 – The Association was given space in the new Carnegie-Lawther Public Library in Red Wing. It consisted of one cabinet to display artifacts along with basement storage.
1927 – The name was changed to Goodhue County Historical Society
1932 – The first museum was opened in the county courthouse. A two-day “white elephant” sale was held to raise funds.
1938 – The Society hired its first paid employee – a curator.
1954 – The Society incorporated.
1963 – When county government needed more space in the courthouse, the Society relocated within the building. This prompted a search for a more permanent site for the museum.
1966 – County commissioners allocated funds through 1/2 mill levy for 1967. This helped fund the Society and the position of curator.
1967 – The Society started its Oral History Program in an effort to record the personal stories of county residents.
1968 – The Society moved into the former Baptist Old People’s Home. Work began on preparing exhibit space and the museum opened on November 1.
1983 – Planning began for a museum expansion project. After in-depth planning, the Society was able to receive the required funding through county appropriations (1987-1991), a one-time mill levy from the state legislature, and Society fund-raising.
1989 – The Society moved out of the old building in preparation for museum expansion.
1991 – The groundbreaking ceremony takes place on April 16 for museum expansion project.
1993 – The Grand Opening of the expanded Historical Museum takes place
1995 – Museum hires first paid director.