The Pittsville Area Historical Society (PAHS) was founded in 1981 after Clarice Pabst, a life-long resident of Pittsville, put a notice in the Pittsville Record asking people if they would be interested in a historical organization. If they were, they were directed to contact her, the anonymous organizer, at Box 9, Pittsville, Wisconsin. Enough interest was shown, and Clarice became the first president. Opal Minor was elected secretary/treasurer. Meetings were held at the Community Hall in Pittsville.
In 1987, the group helped plan Pittsville’s Centennial and sponsored a book-signing party for Bill Hiles and Sheryl Hiles, authors of Yellow River Pioneers. In 1998, a book signing party was held for Sally Winkels, author of Reading, Riting, Rithmetic and Recess.
In 1992, the Masons donated their Masonic Lodge building to PAHS.The building was formerly a Methodist Church built in 1899. The Methodist Church closed, and the local Masonic Lodge purchased the building in 1913. They dug a basement, raised the building about eight feet and installed a kitchen and meeting room.
Using contributions from private individuals, towns, matching funds from Consolidated Papers, city of Pittsville, Modern Woodmen and Lutheran Brotherhood, PAHS had the building rewired, re-shingled and re-sided. Downstairs and upstairs were painted, a used furnace was installed, handicap ramp built, display cabinets built.
As the building update was completed, members began collecting artifacts. Numerous local items of historical interest were donated. In 2004, a group of members worked for a week to accession all artifacts and began developing displays. As more memorabilia are received, they are incorporated into the displays.
At some point in the development, it was discovered that the museum building was partially positioned on the property of Laura’s Corner Café. In 2006, Laura Dolan, owner, re-surveyed her property and donated footage from the west border of her property so the museum property extends beyond the building on the east side. She also squared the back corner of her property and donated a “finger” of land that was between museum property and TDS property.
In 2008, a huge fundraiser was launched to fund the restoration of a one-room schoolhouse. With the help of grants from Mead-Witter Foundation and USDA, along with a very successful fund drive, in 2009 Scranton School was moved to museum property and restored to its 1946 glory. In 2011, PAHS began hosting classes of 3rd and 4th graders for “A Day at Scranton School,” a full-day immersion experience.
Area behind the museum was leveled in 2011 to develop a picnic area with three octagonal picnic tables and a central succulent flower bed. It is used by students participating in “A Day at Scranton School,” and is also open to the public.
A new furnace has been installed and a steel roof added.
An open lot next to the museum was donated to PAHS by Bill Urban in 2012. A double-faced privacy fence accented by flower beds now designates the west edge of museum property with the Pow-Wow ticket booth positioned near the fence. The city of Pittsville donated the booth that had been used for the annual Indian Pow-Wows in Riverside Park. It will be restored and used to display Pow-Wow and Riverside Park pictures and memorabilia.
Fund raisers are held regularly to earn money for exhibit improvements and matching funds. Memberships pay for operating expenses and maintenance. Individual donations and grants support major projects.