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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.

Much of the conversion work has been made nearly complete in the last few years. Most recently (fall 2022)  museum displays and an elevator to reach them were installed on the second floor.   Meeting space, office space, archives and library have been up and in use for several years.  The gift shop has been decorated to closely resemble the Friendship State Bank, the first bank in Adams County, which operated in that same location from 1910 to 1936.

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.


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