The Wayne County Historical Society was established in 1953. Wasson Lawrence, a local businessman and civic leader, was the founding president and guided the new organization during its most formative years. His leadership in raising funds for a new public library in 1956 also included a meeting room dedicated to the Society’s programs. In the early 1960s, a bequest from Minn Hanna Brown, daughter of T.P. and Clara Hanna, funded the construction of a museum room connected to the Fairfield Public Library’s south wall. Membership peaked in the earliest decades but a core of interested volunteers and members continue the mission of preserving and sharing Wayne County’s varied and valued heritage.
In 2005, through a cooperative agreement with the City of Fairfield, the Society leased the old Fairfield Medical Clinic at 101 E. Center. The original portion of the building was the 1874 residence of R. P. and Clara Hanna and their four children. The new Hanna House Museum houses the contemporary history exhibits ranging from the 1930s to recent events. The old museum room (connected to the public library), is now the Early History Museum for exhibits from the 1800s through the 1920s as well as the Archives.
The Society offers Annual and Life Memberships. Dues are tax deductible and are a key source of funding for the Society. The membership fees are applied to the expenses of museum upkeep, public programs, mailing, website support, publicity, equipment, and basic exhibit supplies.
Annual Memberships are $15 and run from January through December. Life membership is a one-time payment for permanent membership for $300 (also tax deductible). To join apply here.
The Wayne County Historical Society maintains a 501(c)3 status with the State of Illinois as a not-for-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible.
In addition to memberships, the Society gratefully receives donations from individuals or civic organizations, grants from community foundations, and transfers of stock for sale to benefit our mission. These gifts allow the Society to complete expensive projects such as installing temperature/humidity control equipment in the Early History Museum, buying exhibit cases, replacing worn carpet, and adding window air conditioners to the Hanna House Museum. These critical improvements would be impossible without these extra funds.
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