A Historical Society is a group of people who work to preserve the history of a place.*

(updated 2/29/24)

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 area residents if they would be interested in creating a historical organization. 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 celebration 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, as the local Masonic Lodge dissolved and their meeting house was no longer needed, the Masons deeded the building to PAHS for the purpose of establishing a museum. The building was originally constructed in 1899 as the Methodist Church. After the Church disbanded and the church building was closed down, 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. There is no longer a Masonic organization in Pittsville.

Using contributions from private individuals, area townships, matching funds from Consolidated Papers, the City of Pittsville, Modern Woodmen and Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent Financial), PAHS had the building rewired, re-shingled and re-sided. Downstairs and upstairs were painted, exhibits areas established, a used furnace was installed, a concrete handicap ramp constructed, and 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 (inventory and record) all artifacts and began developing displays. As more memorabilia are received, they are accessioned and 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 (now Paulie’s Diner). In 2006, Laura Dolan, owner of Laura’s, re-surveyed her property and donated footage from the west border of her property so the museum property extends a few feet 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 the Mead-Witter Foundation and USDA, along with a very successful fund drive, in 2009 Scranton School was moved from its countryside location in the town of Hiles 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, old fashioned one-room school immersion experience.

The area behind the museum was leveled in 2011 to develop a picnic area with three octagonal picnic tables and a central succulent flower bed. The picnic area is used by students participating in “A Day at Scranton School,” and is also open to the public. Also in 2011 a new furnace was installed and the asphalt shingle roof replaced with a steel roof.

An open lot abutting museum property on the West side was donated to PAHS by local resident Bill Urban in 2012. A 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, which had been used for the annual Native American pow-wows in Riverside Park. It has been restored and is now used to display pow-wow and Riverside Park pictures and memorabilia.

In 2014 the St Joachim’s Catholic Church Steeple from the original 1912 church was donated to PAHS. In 2015 the steeple was restored, steps and an entrance were built, plus a replica of the original cross was added on top by local carpenter Steve Redmond. On display inside the steeple is more information about the history of the church.

In 2018 a 1950s hay barn was donated to PAHS by Bob and Sharon Christenson. That barn, originally located on County Road V in the Town of Cary, was built by farmers Raleigh and Rose Frost. The barn was carefully dismantled and the lumber salvaged for reuse. In the summer of 2020 some of that lumber was used to build a farm shed and in 2021 the remaining lumber was used to construct a dairy barn. Both buildings stand today as authentic model farm buildings of the early 1900s. The farm shed is used to exhibit tools, equipment and displays relating to various aspects of farm work and early- to mid-20th century farm technology and knowhow. The model dairy barn is used to exhibit typical early 1900s dairy farm operations, including an authentic stanchioned milking area, chicken coop, calf pen, and haymow.

In the summer of 2022 PAHS volunteers built a small shed to house a turn of the twentieth century Portland cutter sleigh. The shed protects the cutter from the elements while visitors can view it through the large picture window.

Today, the Pittsville Area Historical Society Museum Complex proudly presents 7 different buildings, providing visitors an amazing variety of authentic, historically accurate exhibits and displays of our Pittsville area past, plus access to a wonderful and comprehensive archive of original local histories, documents, books, and artifacts for study and research. All are welcome to stop by and visit our properties and learn about our wonderful past.

Fundraisers are held on occasion to raise money for improvements to exhibits, buildings, and grounds. Memberships help pay for operating expenses and maintenance. Individual donations and grants support major projects.

Charter Members

Clifford Gardner
Nina Gardner
Stella Christensen
Ralph Pelow
Ruth Pelow
Clarice Pabst
Chester Tyjeski
Kurt Horn
Esther Horn
Mary Feldt
Charles Soper
Opal Minor
Mayme Knapp

Nora Severns
Beryl Johnson
Ronald Dickson
Gladys Dickson
Eva Werner
Margaret Swan
Clara Christensen
Ula Kumm
Dan Ruggles
Glenna Bushman
Evelynne Donegan
Irma McNamee

Lillian Pagel
Hillis Blanchard
Lawrence Ilk
Wynona Moore
Inez Rokus
Jean Schiller
Mildred Wagner
Emil Rieck
Fred Covey
Ellis Murray
Marge Emmerick
Edith Schalla

A short history of Pittsville

*Merriam-Webster Dictionary