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The Adams County Historical Society, an incorporated nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in January of 1974, as a University of Wisconsin Extension project to organize local historical societies throughout the state in honor of the United States Bicentennial. 

The mission of the society has always been to collect, preserve and display the history of Adams County. Its early projects included establishment of a small museum at the county fairgrounds, publishing a photographic history of the county, preservation of the Lecy pioneer log cabin, and preservation of the Niebull one-room country school.  The fairgrounds museum is now open once a year during the Adams County Fair in August.

Restoration of the historic 1889 McGowan house, acquired in 1994, has been a major  project of the Society.  Until recently, the  McGowan house  served as the Society’s headquarters, museum, library and archives.  It remains a museum of Victorian era living in Central Wisconsin and a venue for historical programs.   It features period furnishings and depicts the lifestyle of a prominent rural doctor and his family of the Victorian period.  In 2000, the Society published From Past to Present, A History of Adams County. In 2002, the Niebull Schoolhouse was moved from the fairgrounds to the McGowan House property.

In 2012, the society acquired the historic 1904 Gunning-Purves Building at 311 Main Street in Friendship.  The society headquarters has been moved to the building and the Adams County Heritage Center has been established there as well as the Heritage Book & Gift Shop.  Temporary historical exhibits are displayed in the building on a rotating basis and various presentations are conducted in the center’s meeting room.  On completion of restoration, the building’s second floor will be used for historical displays, research, archives and educational activities.

The Society operates through donations made by the public and local organizations, and from fund raising activities. If you would like to make a charitable contribution to the Society, please visit our donations page which explains all of the details needed to do so.

Membership is open to anyone interested in the collection, preservation and dissemination of Adams County history. E-mail us for more information on joining.

Member Information

Society Officials

President: Michael Goc
Vice President: Matt McLaughlin
Secretary: Mary Jo Meyer
Treasurer: Jerry Jaquith

Board of Directors

Pat Kierstyn
Michael Goc
Karen Church
Carol Alford
Matt McLaughlin
Marilyn Baggs
Sherry Sherd
Jerry Jaquith
Mary Jo Meyer

Hours of Operation

Heritage Center:  Tuesdays and Thursdays Noon to 5 PM

McGowan House Museum:  Tours by appointment only. Call 608-339-7733 to schedule or call numbers below. During the Summer months, June through September, the McGowan House Museum is open for tours every Saturday from 1 to 4 PM.

Donations appreciated!

For Appointments Call:

Patricia Kierstyn……608-339-2199

Karen Church……….608-339-3400

The Adams County Historical Society is always looking for new members and workers. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact us. To join, please use our Membership Form.

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