The Museum of Pioneer History began in 1954 as part of the Chandler Historical Society. In 1959 the Society changed its name to The Lincoln County Historical Society, Museum of Pioneer History.
Members joined from all parts of the county and beyond. They gathered artifacts for housing in a central place available to the public and began to document the history of the area. The society sprang from roots first planted 1938 at the county fair, with delegates representing all communities. During World War II the organization was discontinued.
The Museum of Pioneer History's aim is to preserve records of mans first uses of the land and his life to the present in the broadest interpretation of a general historical museum.
After years of moving about town into vacant buildings for museum housing, historical society members purchased the vintage 'Mascho-Murphy' building at 719 Manvel in 1968 for $10,000. Some renovations was accomplished with gifts and fund-raising.
The building was without adequate heat or cooling and the roof often leaked, but the museum and its collection continued to be a popular attraction. A newspaper microfilm library was established and genealogical records assembled.
Expansion Project Launched
In 1982, the adjacent 'twin' building became for sale. With private contributions of more than the $27,500 purchase price, the museum space was increased to 8,000 square feet for the crowded, growing collection. A four-year fund-raising drive was accomplished to complete re-roofing and restoration of the two-story native stone buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are the oldest existing commercial buildings still in use in Lincoln County. The six remarkable Romanesque arches framing the facade are fifteen feet high.
In 1987, contracts were let to Robison-Beck Architects and Diepenbrock Construction Company for the $180,000 restoration project.
Generous contributions, ranging from $25 to $35,000 have come from individuals and organizations (including $100 from a third grade class). With the addition of a $50,000 grant from the Oklahoma Historical Society, the collection can now be housed in a modern-day, climate-controlled museum with proper lighting and ultraviolet light protection.
The building's restoration has been carried out mindful of U.S. Department of Interior guidelines for historic buildings.
Visitors to the museum are first greeted by the old-fashioned traditional 'general store', replica of the traditional small town information and supply center. The town post office and telephone switchboard is included.
Items displayed are typical of those found in general stores throughout Lincoln County at the turn of the century, shortly after settlement and nearing statehood era, 1907. Although there were specialty shops from meat markets to harness shops, the general store could have everything one needed from salve to surreys.
This room is restored authentically including the wood floor and fifteen foot high wooden beaded ceiling. This building was build in 1897 by grocer A. E. Mascho who was nearly killed here in the devastating cyclone of March 30, 1897 which demolished his first structure. Mascho set about rebuilding immediately.
This space was used most often as a general store. In 1912 for a time it became Jed Page's variety 'racket' store.
A primitive cellar has been discovered in the northwest corner. Presently it is not open for viewing. Accessible through a trap-door, it is a simple 14 x 17 foot excavation. It is presumed builder-Mascho intended to have adequate protection should another cyclone strike. After the 1897 storm, Chandler buildings were constructed of extra-thick walls in hopes of avoiding repeated destruction.
During restoration work, a large, connecting arched doorway was discovered which is now returned to an ample-sized attractive opening, between the two buildings. It had been sealed and forgotten.
The arch is similar to those constructed across the building facade. Called 'working arches', the hand- cut sandstones are placed so they support each other and the weight above. Air circulated through the interior storerooms through transom windows in the arches which swung open inward with the pull of a chain.
At the far rear of this room, an office, workroom and fireproof cement storage vault have been constructed.
North Gallery, Front
This area was also used for commercial ventures, built in 1898 by Macho as almost a twin to his first. It was long known as 'Murphy's Meat Market' in the early part of this century. J. F. Murphy was well- known for his genial nature and horseshoe pitching skill. Note the 'No Loafing' sign he left beside the stairway wall. The stairwell area originally featured an early elevator.
This gallery features rotating exhibits and provides space for traveling or visiting exhibits. Two west corners of the room feature permanent exhibits.
On the north wall hang five acrylic mural-like paintings by Fred Olds, Guthrie artist and sculptor. They are gifts of Col. and Mrs. John Embry. They depict area history in the following sequence:
1. Arrival Indians;
Tilghman, Kent Exhibit
Famed Deputy U.S. Marshal, Bill Tilghman was a county homesteader, sheriff, state senator, Chandler town marshal and known for his long career of Oklahoma law enforcement He traveled the country with a movie he made in partnership with Benny Kent, 'The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw'.
Benny Kent is known for his contributions to early photography, both in stills, stereoptican views and movies. He has provided documentation for many county scenes as well across Oklahoma and the 101 Ranch. He was an English Jeweler who settled in Chandler before 1900.
Printing, Publishing Exhibit
Lincoln County was without connection to the outside world by railroads, or telephone during its first years of settlement Communication was by word of mouth, mall delivered by stagecoach, and newspapers.
The first to be published was the 'The Chandler News' at the county seat. The printing and publishing exhibit feature a Linotype type-setting machine although first type was set by hand. Also featured is a hand operated press which printed 'Boomer' leaflets promoting opening of Oklahoma. County newspapers have numbered some 49 different newspapers or titles and mergers.
North Gallery, Rear