The Dawson County Historical Society was founded in 1958 in Lexington, Nebraska to preserve the unique history and culture of Dawson County. The Society’s first project was the restoration of the District #55 School. In 1964, through the generosity of the family of Harley Kirkpatrick and our members, patrons and visitors, land was donated and work on the first museum building began.
In May of 1970 The Dawson County Historical Museum opened its doors to the public. Situated along Taft Street in Lexington, it now sits in a very family friendly neighborhood with the Kirkpatrick Memorial park to the north, the Lexington Family Aquatic Center west of the park and tennis courts west of the museum. There is also a small lake for fishing located on the south side of the museum. You can plan your whole day around one city block!
Since 1970, the Dawson County Historical Society and Museum has expanded its museum campus to include a new addition and several historic buildings, including the Willow Island Union Pacific Train Depot, a 1903 Baldwin Locomotive #485, the Fairhaven Baptist Church and a log cabin. Our museum is largely funded through the generous efforts of our community, members, and patrons. In pursuing our mission, the museum has seen a lot of positive changes in the last couple of years. A new parking lot, changes in landscaping, and the renovation of the depot are just a few of the changes made to give the museum more curb appeal and keep the historical structures intact. Inside the museum our exhibits are constantly changing in the art gallery so the public has something new to look forward to while the museum staff is working on other more permanent exhibits.
Currently the museum staff is working on a “Mainstreet” exhibit that will consist of a home display and business displays from the early 1900’s in Dawson County, Nebraska. We are in the process of building 14 movable dividing walls. Once that project is finished we’ll be moving our attention to the unfinished space in the back of the museum to make a loop to the other side of the building. There’s never a dull moment at the Dawson County Historical Museum!
The Dawson County Historical Society is a private non-profit education institution whose mission is to promote a greater understanding of the history of Dawson County and south-central Nebraska. The society collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets that history and its relationship to Nebraska and the wider world for the benefit of all ages and interests.
The next time you visit Dawson County or find yourself curious, drop by for a visit and let your imagination take flight because with every visit, inspiration is just around the next corner.