The Phillips County Historical Society was organized May 16, 1967. The museum at the 109 South Campbell address is visible proof of the progress of the organization.
The first meeting place was the town hall at Paoli. Meetings alternated between Holyoke and Haxtun until the Museum was established. A constitution was drawn up and dues were a dollar a year. The dollar a year dues remained until 2001 when dues were raised to $5 per membership. It was the purpose of the society to collect and preserve historical documents and artifacts. Officers, with vision and foresight, interest in history, and a willingness to work, were sought.
In late 1967 the group secured a room in the old hospital annex, which was at that time the old Courthouse annex at 246 South Interocean. As they began to gather historical items the group looked for larger quarters. The County Commissioners gave the Society permission to move to the Dille building, just west of the annex. This building has been torn down and a steel storage shed has been erected in its place.
A family history book project was started in 1968. Family histories were gathered and printed in the history book, "Those Were the Days..." Volume I.
In the early 1970s the Society began to see the need for a larger building in which to meet and store the items and records they had collected. Much support and co-operation from Phillips County , the town of Holyoke , the Heginbotham Trust, and county citizens was mixed in with sheer determination on the part of the Society members to find a new home for their growing organization. The Cleo Schneller building, where the Museum is now located, was picked as their best option and they began to negotiate for the purchase. The cost of the building was $35,000. A fund drive was launched throughout the county. The building was purchased August 1, 1974. Title is held by Phillips County and the Society has a long term lease. Through the efforts of many, many volunteers the building was cleaned, painted, cases refinished, display cases made, artifacts moved, sorted and catalogued.
In June of 1975 Dennis Means was hired to help establish the procedures for setting up a museum. The Phillips County Museum opened August 1, 1975 and was dedicated on August 31, 1975.
With a grant from the Colorado Bicentennial Commission, the Phillips County Historical Society was able to close in and brick three windows in the museum and build display cases over these windows.
Another grant in 1976 made it possible to purchase a microfilm reader and to have microfilm copies made of early newspapers. A microfilm reader/printer was purchased in 2003 with a grant from the Heginbotham Trust.
The museum was expanded in 1976 when the Heginbotham Trust provided funds for a 50' x 70' addition on the south end of the museum. The Heginbotham addition was dedicated January 17, 1978.
In the spring of 1985 the Heginbotham Trust gave the Society the funds to purchase additional land south of the Museum.
On June 24, 1985 and September 13, 1985 the Colorado Historical Society awarded the local Society Local Assistance grants to copy photos and make negatives from our collection. The project was completed in December 1985.
Generous donations from private donors and the Holyoke Arts Charitable Trust enabled the Society to bind twenty years of local newspapers in 1986. The museum continues to bind newspapers from Holyoke and Haxtun and keeps microfilm of the local newspapers.
Volume I of "Those Were the Days..." has been sold out. In 1987 the museum began asking for family histories and signed a contract to print the book "Those Were the Days..." Volume II. The book was finished in 1988 in time for the centennial celebrations of Phillips County and the Town of Holyoke . This bound book is 669 pages and is currently on sale at the museum for $34.50.
Again the museum expanded on the south half of the lot behind Esther Schneller's house. A second addition of 50' x 90' was added to the east of the first addition. The expanded addition was dedicated on August 12, 1990.
In 1998 the museum acquired, from the Holyoke Co-op, the old Reimer-Smith oil station. The building was moved from 205 North Baxter to the lot south of the museum building. The building was restored and furnished as near to original as possible. The station originally sold Enarco petroleum products and lubricant. It operated from 1927 until 1991, selling a variety of brand names. The frame and pressed metal building was placed on the National Resister of Historic Places on April 21, 2000.
In 1999 a one room school house was given to the museum. It was moved to the lot south of the museum building and south of the filling station. This school was the Pleasant Prairie School , District #14. The school has been refurbished as close as possible to original. We have held "School Days" for children in the school house during the summer. We are very grateful to the original students who helped with the history of this school.
In 2000 Carl and Kathy Schneller generously gifted the house and lot just to the east of the museum to us. The address is 210 East Denver . At this time, 2005, the museum rents out this house. We thank them for their generous donation.
Many programs have been given in the museum, including quilt, afghan, needlework, wedding gown, old car, and doll, musket loaders, Indian artifacts and arrowhead shows. We've presented fiddlers, hymn sings, antique appraisals, and showing of Phillips County Roots tapes. Numerous individuals have presented programs on a variety of topics.