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Heritage Center

The Adams County Historical Society’s “Adams County Heritage Center” has been listed on the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places. Built in 1904 by John W. Gunning and John W Purves the building has  walls, ceilings and exterior clad with decorative pressed metal. The building registration cited “The most distinguishing feature of the building is the George L Mesker & Company pressed and stamped metal storefront”

Gunning Purves Building

The Adams County Historical Society acquired the historic Gunning-Purves building in 2011.   The building  previously was  the home of the Adams County Title Office.  In the 110 years since it was built,  the building has been occupied by a number of prominent businesses. Originally built as an office building, it has been owned by members of the Tuttle family in recent years and lovingly maintained by them.

The historical society is converting this historic building into the Adams County Heritage Center.  The center will be a focal point for the rich heritage of central Wisconsin. It will contain museum displays, meeting space, office space, archives, library, and gift shop.

The truly unique thing about this building is that the interior has always been completely covered with beautiful tin ceilings and walls. Each room on both levels has entirely different sets of patterns.  The feeling that one is inside of a wedding cake has been a common reaction to seeing it for the first time.

At the time it was built, aside from being decorative, tin covered walls and ceilings were quite fireproof! Old photos show that it originally also was covered on the outside with metal, brick patterned siding. The original front has been maintained.

To be Adams County Heritage Center

As shown in the pictures below, the building’s pressed metal walls, ceilings and front have been called  the finest example of the tinwork of the era.


6 Responses to Heritage Center

  1. Sandy Kazubowski

    What are the open hours for the Heritage Center?

    • admin

      The Adams County Heritage Center at 311 Main street in Friendship is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Noon to 5:00 pm.

  2. Karen Schultz

    What days is some one knowledgable there to help navigate all the archives?

    • admin

      We have volunteers here during our regular hours on Tues, Thurs, Sats from 12;00 to 5:00 you may call for an appointment for assisted searches. If you do that, we can be prepared if you give us the names or info you are interested in. Call 608-339-7733 during our open hours.

  3. Deborah Tender

    I was doing some long overdue genealogy research and flipped when I saw your photo of your current location. I recognized it immediately, having seen it in a photo behind my Gr Gr Grandfather John W. Gunning. (His daughter, Jennie married Fred Staples and their son, Robert Sperry Staples, is my maternal grandfather) Thrilled to see the building has been kept in beautiful shape. Are your hours still T/Th/Sat? Thanks!

    • admin

      Nice to hear from you Deborah, Especially since you are a descendant of John Gunning, who, with his son-in-law John Purves, built the building the Adams County Historical Society now occupies. Yes, our hours are still Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays from Noon to 5:00 pm. We would be happy to have you visit us. We are very proud of the way the building has been preserved and of the way the society has refurbished it. As you may know, we hope to soon be breaking ground on an addition on the rear of the building that will contain an elevator making the second floor more accessible

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