To enter the Online Tour for one of our rooms simply click on its name. Thank you for virtually visiting the Pioneer Museum!
Everywhere in the MCHS is full of Martin County’s rich history and our lobby is no exception. Our main display is set up on the west wall and features many pictures from the impressive and gorgeous historic homes of Martin County. The south wall holds our Martin County Music display that pays homage to the local and regional musicians who entertained us and the places they played at, such as the famed Interlaken Ballroom. The east wall is home to our gift shop, the Kickin’ Chicken sign, and one of our newest displays, the Paul and Linda McCartney display. The McCartney couple came to Fairmont in 1994 to launch Linda’s line of vegetarian TV dinners. The display features some boxes from her dinners and several quality photographs from their visit to Fairmont. So even if you only make it to the main lobby on your trip to the Pioneer Museum, it will still be very fun and educational!
The Walter Carlson room is on the lower level of the Pioneer Museum and is dedicated to the man whose life work was serving the museum. He earned the title, Mr. History, for his significant contributions to the MCHS between 1949 and 1975. The Carlson Room is home to many of our larger display items such as the first motorized fire truck in Martin County, a 1923 American LaFrance Fire truck (Learn more about it here!). We also have on display an Iron Lung which was used to combat the Polio virus in the 1950s. We have displays dedicated to the histories of our local fire and police departments as well. Other artifacts include vehicles dating back past the 1920s, a weaver’s loom, and one of the first color TV sets in Martin County. The Carlson room promises to be an exciting experience with history’s BIG artifacts!
Modern day Martin County would surely be a different place today if the brave, hard-working pioneers who went before us never came and settled the land we now call home. Our Pioneer Room here at the museum is filled with the tools and items that those courageous forerunners used to make early Martin County their home. Currently the room features a bedroom area and a dining room/kitchen area that are both filled with interesting pioneer artifacts that range in origin from the late 19th century to the 1950s. In the bedroom we have such items as an 1895 rocking chair given as a wedding gift to Rev. & Mrs. Albert Fillmore of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and an 1865 cradle from Silas Mills, the first settler of Waverly Township. There is also a picture of Sam Carver (from the Tuttle-Carver dispute) and his wife. In the dining/kitchen area we have things like an 1880s Cast Iron stove, the predecessor to the refrigerator-the Icebox, a 1920s electric toaster, a kitchen cupboard set with built in flour sifter ,and a hand powered vacuum. These are just a FEW examples of what we have in our Pioneer Room; come and glimpse what life was like before the Modern Age!
The Brodt Room is home to many items and pictures from Martin County’s Business and Industrial past. The businesses and industries featured in the Brodt Room were critical to the growing and thriving of our county and thus represent a significant portion of our history. Historically, one of the most important industries was Fairmont Railway Motors who were among the first companies in America to produce motor-powered railway cars for use in maintaining railways; these and Railway Motors’ other railway maintenance products can be found all over the world today. From there we have several picture albums, a large switchboard, stamps, catalogs, and a myriad of other items. Railway Motors celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2009! Along with them Park Motor Co. (now Fairmont Ford) also celebrated their 100 year anniversary which makes them the 4th oldest Ford Dealership in the nation. Along with pictures and news clippings of Park Motor’s history their original time clock is in the Brodt Room. While these businesses were and are certainly important, the Brodt Room also holds many other items such as a blown-up copy of the Sentinel’s 1958 Martin County Centennial issue, a jewelry maker’s workbench, aerial pictures from the Fairmont Canning Co., and a host of other artifacts from Martin County’s industrial past!
Martin County has never been an area that shirks its military duties and many heroes from our area have participated in our country’s conflicts from as far back as the Civil War to the present day Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Our Military Room is lined and filled with numerous items and mementos from our heroes’ time in the armed forces. On the north wall we have display cabinets full of artifacts from Fort Fairmount and the Civil war including, for example, officers’ swords, a wooden canteen, muskets, and discharge papers. On our east wall we have a host of uniforms lining the walls from several conflicts: The Spanish-American War, World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Iraq War. The Iraq War uniforms belonged to the Posivio boys who proudly served Martin County; Daniel was killed in a car accident while Robert lost his life in battle. On the south wall we have several things including a display for Capt. Frederick Wherland, an early pioneer best known as being the first roaming weatherman of Martin County. These are just a few examples; there are many more items in our Military Room that the MCHS is proud to display!
As is the case throughout the museum every nook and cranny is filled with Martin County’s rich history and our hallways and staircases are no exception to this. In these areas we have placed many artifacts such as a model of the lake cruiser, Concord, which use to ferry and entertain passengers across Fairmont’s lakes and a rare egg collection put together by Martin County native Archie Whitman. There are also several old flags, a Wooten Patent Desk, fainting couch from the Martin County Courthouse, and weapons used by early Martin County Pioneers. So while you walk from room to room enjoy the many items that tell of the heritage of our great County.
The Hunt Room, named for Dr. Roscoe Hunt who donated the museum’s current building to the MCHS, is filled with a variety of historical artifacts and displays. One display features several of the tools the early Martin County settler William Budd (For whom the school, street, and lake are named) owned, used, and worked with in early Martin County. We also have an Annabelle Webb display that shows the former KSUM personality’s eccentric hats and a painting of her. There is also both a dentistry section and a medical section, each with examples of tools that would have been used. We also have a Ku Klux Klan uniform displayed, an object from Martin County’s darker past. As well, there are many old typewriters and cameras, which are a far cry from the modern equivalent! The Hunt Room has a wide variety of objects throughout the room as well from antique toys to an x-ray machine to a picture of Fairmont’s own Miss Minnesota, Marlys Lee Reed Stanley. Head to the Hunt Room for an interesting and varied display of more historic objects!
The Welcome Room is the MCHS’ display of Martin County’s historic fashions, finery, trinkets, and culture. Within visitors will have a chance to see the numerous fine items once possessed by early Martin County residents. Along the east wall is our display of Ladies’ Fashion from the 1920s through the 1950s. The central displays of the room are filled with many items such as quality silverware, different styles of hats, fine dishware, and daguerreotypes and tintypes-early photographic processes very different from today’s digital and high quality pictures! The Welcome Room also has a beautiful display of dresses ranging from an 1898 wedding dress to a ball gown worn at the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are also different styles of child’s clothing and some ornate baby carriages on display. The south wall has pictures of Alfred Welcome, for whom the room is named, and his family; also with this display are many old documents and articles including one about Sherburn S. Merrill, the namesake of the town of Sherburn. A list detailing the amount and variety of the Welcome Rooms fabulous trinkets would be much too long to detail here; for anyone interested in fashion or finery the Welcome Room will certainly not disappoint!
Education was an important part of an area’s transition from frontier life to more civilized life. Thus the School Room is dedicated to showing the evolution of that vital area of society throughout the decades beginning with Fairmont’s very first teacher, Mrs. Lorraine Swearingen, who began teaching in 1860. The School Room features a large bookcase full of annuals from the county schools on its west wall while in the front of the room, the east section, we have a teacher’s desk display with items Martin County instructors used. The middle is dominated by our collection of historic desks gathered from some of the county’s “One Room Schoolhouses.” The North and South walls are filled with other artifacts such as band instruments, homecoming buttons, pictures, trophies, and many other things. We also have a display dedicated to renowned Fairmont football coach Tom Mahoney with memorabilia from his athletic career. The School Room will bring back memories of your own educational experience while teaching you about other eras of education!
At MCHS one of the main reasons people come to visit is to research on a wide variety of topics from family genealogy to business history. The Pioneer Museum houses many, many resources from all eras of Martin County History to help accommodate these research requests. In the research library the walls are lined with Fairmont Sentinels dating back to 1874, which are also available on microfilm for the years 1900-Present. Photos, City Directories, Primary Documents, Church Histories and much, much more can be found here. An island counter and historic meeting table provide lots of room for researchers of all ages to use our resources. The Reading Room also houses newspaper from all corners of Martin County. The Genealogy Room is the most recent addition to our research resources. The Martin County Genealogical Society moved into our building and brought with them their immense collection of records and information. The room was redone into a nice, bright workspace and filled with all sorts of genealogical items. There is so much interesting and useful knowledge floating around these rooms!