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Where it all began...

J.R. Watkins House Watercolor

For 17 years, J.R. Watkins called Plainview “home”. It was in his house that he began his world famous business, mixing the first batch of liniment in a wooden barrel right in the middle of the kitchen! And now you can experience the humble beginnings of J.R. Watkins, “where it all began”.

The house, originally located on Broadway, was moved in 1911 to its present site to make way for a new home. In March of 2008, the Watkins house was purchased by the Plainview Area History Center with the purpose of showcasing the early years of the Watkins’ story. Displays and exhibits have been designed to be portable, allowing multiple uses of the facilities.

J.R. Watkins House Room One- The Front Parlor
This room features the Watkins family and also provides a sample of what life was like in Plainview during the Watkins stay. The furnishings are not original to the family, but added to give visitors a feel for the era.

J.R. Watkins House Room Two- The Side Room
This room was added after the Watkins left Plainview. It features the Watkins business and the legal battle between Watkins and the Plainview firm of Landon & Burchard over the right to use the Dr. Ward’s name. It also contains a display on Plainview’s “Watkins Man”, Charlie Venables.

J.R. Watkins House J.R. Watkins House Room Three- The Back Room
This room was the original kitchen where J.R. Watkins mixed his first batch of Dr. Ward’s liniment in a wooden barrel. The bay window was added after the Watkins family left in 1885. The room features a replica of the wooden barrel as well as a replica of J.R. Watkins’ desk. It also contains displays of Watkins products.

The Watkins House is located at 140 3rd St. NW, Plainview, Minnesota and is open Saturdays from 1-4 PM. Admission is by donation.

Other related sites about the Watkins family:
Winona County Historical Museum- Winona, Minnesota
The museum has several items of the Watkins family including J.R. Watkins’ original desk, a bottling machine, daughter Grace’s carriage, and other memorabilia.
Open Monday – Friday 9 AM – 5 PM, Saturday & Sunday Noon -4. Closed weekends in January & February.
Located at 160 Johnson Street, Winona, Minnesota 55987. Telephone 507-454-2723

Watkins Museum- Winona, Minnesota
The museum offers a glimpse into the past with its extensive historical collection of Watkins bottles and wares and is a sales outlet for the current line of Watkins products.
Open Monday –Friday 10 AM-4 PM Saturday 10 AM- 2 PM
Watkins Museum
East 3rd St. (between Chestnut & Liberty Streets)
Winona, MN 55987 (507-457-6095)

Greenwood Cemetery- Plainview
The graves of two of Watkins’ children are found here: an infant and son, George.
The cemetery is located at the north end of Fifth St. NW. Information on the site can be obtained from the Plainview Area History Center.

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  • Hours

    • Open - Saturdays, 1-4 PM
    • Other by Appointment
    • Closed on Holiday Weekends
    • The History Center is closed January and February
    • The Watkins House is closed January through April
  • Contact Information

    • Correspondence:
    • 40 4th St SW
    • Plainview, MN 55964
    • Phone:
    • (507) 534-4173 (Center)
    • (507) 534-2670 (Ron Manzow)
    • E-mail:
  • Photos

      This is a Flickr badge showing public photos and videos from Plainview Area History Center. Make your own badge here.
  • Genealogical Information

  • Watkins Information

  • Plainview Information