Kewanee Historical Museum

211 N. Chestnut Street
Kewanee, IL 61443

The society’s immediate goal in 1976 was to establish a museum, which it did in 1977 when the old Butterwick Hardware Store at 211 N. Chestnut St. was offered for sale. The society raised $5,000 for a down payment and borrowed another $14,000 to purchase the building. The mortgage was retired in four years through memberships, donations and fundraising events.

The Butterwicks started their hardware business in 1868. The current brick building was constructed in 1887.  The family operated the business until 1966, after which the building was used for storage by an electrical company and the upstairs was the location of a teen center for a year and then an adult nightclub.

After the buildings to the south were torn down, exposing the wall of the museum to the elements, the surface was plastered and painted. A “Kewanee Landmarks” mural, painted by Kewanee artist Dave Washburn, was dedicated Oct. 18, 1997.

A tremendous amount of work was needed in the late 1970’s to turn the old hardware store into a museum and Bob and Marcella were up to the task. With the help of many  dedicated volunteers the building was repaired and remodeled.  Since 1977 the current and former folks from Kewanee donated  money, artifacts, and their time to make the museum what it is today.  That said, for the fist quarter century of the museum’s existence the the driving force behind it were Bob and Marcella Richards.

Accordingly, the society’s board of directors decided in 2001 to name the museum the “Robert and Marcella Richards Museum.” The official announcement of that decision was made at a 25th anniversary banquet on Oct. 7, 2001 at which the Richards were honored for their 25 years of service.

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